Our party of six sharers got to try lots of things at Baraka over the weekend. We enjoyed the food very much, particularly the stuffed dates with frisee salad, the prawn and melon salad, the seared scallops on a bed of lightly creamed corn, the Moroccan meatballs and the veal cheek tagine, as well as the nougat mousse with wild raspberry dessert. We enjoyed the '02 Donhoff Qba Riesling, and the sommelier steared us right with the '95 Monticello Rioja Gran Reserva.
But as my sister put it, "they want you to have their experience, not yours." The service was professional but the upsell was more than annoying. From the the offer of "still or sparkling water" (no tap proferred) from the moment we sat down, and the the waitress's rundown of her recommendations as she passed out the menus (are the other items not good? should we be wary that her recs tipped the scales for price and perishability?), to the sommelier's introduction ("this wine list is my creation") and push to top-tier wines, to the coffee/tea push: "I make the mint tea, I will be sad if you don't try it... you'll try it? Good, how about a pot [rather than a glass]," we felt like we were managing against the staff the whole time.
Two of us had dined at Kabul on Friday night, where the waiter convinced us to try an extra app and his cardamom tea. Yet his manner was so inviting, and his choices so dead on, that we felt well taken care of rather than managed.
The bit with the service won't have me running back to Baraka, as I make a mean chicken tagine and now there's Medjool to try...