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Another Barbounia report (long)

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Another Barbounia report (long)

JulesEV | Dec 9, 2005 12:07 PM

Another poster recently reviewed Barbounia, and here's another perspective:

Barbounia recently joined the crowd of new restaurants on or around Park Ave. South, and it stacks up well: Mediterranean with a bit of Vegas flair. Like its brethren, it's not a place to kick back & relax, but rather a more festive scene where (more importantly) you can get good chow.

For those of you (unlike myself) who knew Patria, whose space this restaurant now occupies, gone is the mezzanine that apparently crowned the room. It's now a high-ceilinged, airy space with billowing white curtains and four large pillars. In the center (here comes the Vegas) is a large, unusual showgirl-as-chandelier: a glittery globe surrounded by large white feathers. The kitchen in the back is open; the long bar to the right didn't get too crowded during my visit.

For a new restaurant, there weren't many service glitches, aside from some confusion at the hostess desk. The six of us sat about 10 minutes after our 8pm reservation, at the long table in front of the kitchen. Luckily, we didn't suffer from the sauna-like problems experienced by the poster who sweated through his dinner at Upstairs at Bouley. We started with some excellent, unusual cocktails, including ouzo with lemonade and fresh mint for me, and an apricot-orange concoction for one of the other girls.

The menu begins with a list of dips; four can be ordered for $14 and come with a salty pita-like flatbread that's a good complement. We ordered the apricot yogurt (very good & not as sweet as it sounds); taramasalata (not strong enough for me); spicy feta (good); and hummus (fine).

We moved on to more formal appetizers, and the best dish of the night: charred octopus confit over fava beans & topped with chopped olive relish. The namesake barbounia, ie red mullet/rouget, was a tasty fillet in some kind of unmemorable sauce. Other starters ordered included the chicken & prawn souvlaki, baked saganaki cheese and an architectural-looking Greek salad.

For mains, my boyfriend & I shared the crispy red snapper, which come to think of it, wasn't that crispy. But it was flavorful & tender, over small black lentils, roasted red peppers, tomatoes & artichokes. Our friends devoured the other main dishes -- a whole grilled dorade, and veal medallions with roasted cauliflower over a decadent marscapone polenta. We opted out of desserts, but small triangles of baklava came with the check.

The service throughout was fairly attentive: our water glasses were filled regularly, and our friendly waiter frequently came by to check on drinks. At the end of the meal, managers gave us comment cards to fill out.

Happily, I can't comment on the overall price since I was treated, but as I remember, appetizers were in the $12 range, and mains were $20-$25 or so, with grilled meats topping $30.

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