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Babbo revisited


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Restaurants & Bars 6

Babbo revisited

Martha Gehan | Apr 20, 1999 03:35 PM

When Babbo first opened and it was possible to get a
reservation without engaging in major tactical planning
weeks in advance I went there frequently and was
consistently wowed. I returned last night for the
first time in a couple of months and the food is as
wonderful as ever. Four of us had the tasting
menu(everyone at the table must order it) with
accompanying wines. Seafood salad-good but not
great-crab,calamari,etc. w/greens in a lemony
vinaigrette, two excellent pastas-heavenly, ethereal
really, agnolotti w/asparagus and gnocchi w/rabbit
ragu, gnocchi chewy but not rubbery, ragu deliciously
spicy w/meat shredded like rillettes (I think that
Mario Batali's kitchens consistently produce the best
pasta I've ever had outside of Italy), knockout grilled
quail w/fennel and blood oranges-lip-smackingly
fabulous, we all ended up sucking the bones it was so
yummy, yogurt sorbetto (a weird idea that
works)w/roasted mango, then instead of the billed
chocolate hazlenut cake we were each given a different
dessert (at the request of one of our party). I lucked
out and got my all-time fave Babbo sweet (and one of
the best I've had anywhere) the saffron panna cotta.
Chocolate hazlenut cake was also good, a rhubarb
concoction I found rather wet-tasting and the other I
don't remember. But I'm not a sweet-lover and the
others liked it very much. Wines were all excellent
with a couple of stand-outs-and all were thoughtfully
paired with the foods they were offered with. Another
plus was that although at the end of the meal one had
certainly had enough to eat and drink we were neither
stuffed nor drunk. I'm made more than a little crazy
by restaurants that have prix-fixe and/or tasting menus
that present you with enormous plate after plate of
rich food ( Aureole, for one). It ruins my appetite.
This was just enough, and the three men I dined with
agreed, and two I know are considerable trenchermen.On
the downside, I didn't like sitting upstairs-too hushed
for me, I like the buzz downstairs better, and the
service of the wines lagged the food. The server
apologized for it about a hundred times and I don't
think it was her fault-the usually wine steward was I
think a bit off his game. But at $400 bucks before tax
and tip it was an annoyance. But a minor one, and
otherwise the service was excellent. I love this
place, and I think you all who haven't been there
should give it a shot.

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