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Restaurants & Bars

Baby Bo?

dbird | Oct 22, 2006 01:49 AM

I moved to Murray Hill about 18 months ago & have followed press on Baby Bo, which evidently had many fans who defected when the owner changed the menu following an inspirational stint at CIA or somewhere. At least that is what I recall of the explanation he offered--I thought here but now can't find it--in response to legions of disappointed fans. In the same post, this owner also announced that he had heard his customers and was reverting to the former and more straightforward Mexican menu. This open and considered response drew enthusiastic praise. I was among those impressed and looked forward to ordering, and often.

But when I finally saw the new (old) menu, it was all nachos and fajitas and burritos with cute names and salads in tostada shells. When I asked a waiter if they ever had cochinita pibil or tamales or other specials, he had no idea what I was talking about. On several occasions when I wanted Mexican food nearby, I resolved to order there but couldn't find anything that answered.

Tonight I checked again and their menu had changed, and included fish tacos! Excited, I phoned to place an order. The person who took my order asked if I wanted corn or soft tacos. Of course, I said I wanted soft corn tacos. She said you can have corn tacos which are hard, or 'wheat or flour' tacos. Really? I asked. I have never had wheat or flour tacos and don't actually want them. Then they are probably corn, she said. Actually, we aren't allowed to try them but if they are supposed to be corn then I am sure they are corn. Not allowed to try them? I asked. Could you at least check then? She checked as I pondered the prohibition on staff tasting the food, and returned to confirm that the tacos were indeed corn. And no, they don't make them.

I should have quit already but I got the tacos and they were just weird. Three fish tacos, double wrapped but not really as the tortillas were flat and not clinging together, more like lining for the aluminum container. Almost no corn flavor. The fish was like fish sticks, with a kind of uniform and uncrispy crust that peeled right off the fish, and they were topped with julienned red cabbage, carrots, and something white that might have been celery root in a different context but can't imagine that is what it was here, that would be yet a further dimension of strange. None of it had much flavor. Also unusual: they were served with a large side of pinto beans and rice that seemed parboiled.

All in all I have to say I don't understand this place or much like it, and am mystified by its seeming appeal. I generally revert for Mexican to El Parador which has its limitations including price which is why I wish Baby Bo would be a better alternative but is certainly more focussed and coherent both up front and in the kitchen.

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