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Babbo (First 6 Years)


macrosan
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errr...Tommy plays drums.

Nick

not with this fucking lot i don't. only with friends.

...

Tommy, I've got a pretty good idea of the only beat you know. It's nothing I'm into so just keep it amongst your friends.

Too much, perhaps.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Too much, perhaps.

Perhaps. Nick#1 said something in what i thought was was an innocent post. Tommy had to turn it to BS. :angry:

easy there captain. i'm friends with nick and i'm sure he took it the "right" way. and that is to say, i was busting his balls. not my problem if you're too sensitive. i thought we cleared this up a while ago?

and i can assure anyone who can't figure it out: i know how to "take it."

warm regards,

tommy

Edited by tommy (log)
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the sommelier...steered us toward the cheese plate and the coach farm cheese in particular.

Isn't Mario married to one of the Coach Farm family?

Yes. His wife is the daughter of the owner, who was the owner of the Coach leather and handbags company. From time to time you might see her and her kids at the Union Square Greenmarket stand. She's struck me as a very charming woman.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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tommy is the in-law of the brother of the drummer for the ads for the cough syrup that the guy married to what's her name takes. So when he said that to them there it was about that. Jumping to conclusions usually concludes in, you know, jumping.

Anywho.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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easy there captain.  i'm friends with nick and i'm sure he took it the "right" way.  and that is to say, i was busting his balls.  not my problem if you're too sensitive.

Tommy, I was the one who turned this into a jam session when I tried to draw Mario in on page 5 - "Mario, you got anything to say? Jump in and when (if) I get down that way to see ngatti, I'll bring my Telecaster along and we'll play some blues. Chicago style."

Then we got Plotz, Nina, Dave, and Robert S. ready for a jam. So, it seemed to me you were busting our collective balls - with apologies to Nina :smile: .

"not with this fucking lot i don't."

What "lot" were you refering to? Rest my case.

Now let's take it back to the top - Babbo.

Edited by Nickn (log)
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Without getting into it too many specifics, these are occasions when I know the chef, he comes to the table, ascertains my satisfaction, let's me know why we're getting these dishes, etc.

When're we going?

:biggrin: If I come back from New Mexico, some time in January perhaps?

(Apologies for veering dangerously off topic)

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My wife and I went to Babbo last night to celebrate our anniversary. It was pretty funny to read through the recent thread about Babbo and then go so soon afterwards.

I was looking forward to speaking with the infamous Maitre'd, but I think I may have gotten someone else. I spoke with a very nice, witty, bald gentleman when I arrived. I asked for a table upstairs to which he replied "that won't be a problem."

Upon being seated we were handed menus by a person who could only have been the "cocktail waitress at a midwestern hotel". I admit to a small chuckle at the thought. I didn't give the menu too much though because we had previously decided to go with the pasta tasting menu. We did however make one substitution that I will explain later.

I spoke with the sommelier for a little bit and decided to go with the riserva wine pairings. We discussed my likes and dislikes including the fact that I don't particularly care for a heavy hand on the oak treatment. I also told him that most of my Italian wine experience was with Tuscany so I would welcome new things. I think that I made a mistake by mentioning that I was much more familiar with French wines than Italian. I think that comment may have come back to haunt me later.

We started with an amuse bouch of small pieces of chick pea bruschetta. We have both enjoyed the white bean version many times before at Po. It's very tasty and a nice way to begin the evening.

The next course was black tagliatelle with parsnips and pancetta. There really is an art to making pasta. Al dente takes on a whole new meaning with fresh pasta. Again a relatively simple dish served in a butter based sauce that offset the saltiness of the squid ink and the pancetta.

This course was paired with the 99 Manicor Sauvignon Bianco "Lieben Aich" from Alto Adige. The sommelier spent a good deal of time telling us about this wine. I found it all interesting but one thing stuck in my mind. He mentioned it was fermented in small oak barrels. I had already mentioned that I didn't like oak so I was surprised at this choice. The wine turned out to be a well balanced Sauvignon Blanc that paired well with our dish. The acidity cut through the rich butter sauce well.

The second dish on the tasting menu was a fennel and potato ravioli. However we substituted the pumpkin lune with sage butter. I'm not a huge fan of sweet vegetables in my pasta, but this worked well. My wife really enjoyed the dish. I found interesting that the filling was pureed to smooth instead of left with some chunkiness for texture.

Paired with the lune was the 00 Damijan Collio Bianco from Friuli. This was a blend of several grapes including chardonnay also fermented in small oak barrels. Again, although I didn't say anything this was a surprise and I began to wonder if the sommelier had misunderstood my initial comments about my aversion to oak. This wine was atrocious. It reminded me of a California Chardonnay with its burnt, buttery profile. It didn't add anything to or complement the dish either.

Up next was the garganelli with funghi trifolati. It was a triangular pasta rolled up into tubes that was served with a porcini butter sauce. So far this was my favorite dish. The porcinis were so rich a flavorful. Once again, I'm impressed with the texture and the taste of the pasta itself.

However, I'm now surprised that the first three pastas were served with butter based sauces. I looked at the remaining dishes on the menu and realized that the next dish was served with a butter based sauce too. Even the fennel and potato ravioli that we swapped out was supposed to have a butter sauce too.

The funghi trifolati was served with a 98 Carlo Giacosa Barbaresco Montefico. This was very tight and although it helped to have with the food, I was really beginning to become disappointed with the wines. The wine service and the sommeliers explainations of the pairings and profiles of the wines was excellent. Unfortunately I hadn't tried anything yet that warranted another glass or second thought.

Up next was Alejandro's pyramids with butter and thyme. Esentially it was a stylized ravioli filled with braised short ribs. While interesting I couldn't help think about my grandmother's homemade kreplach.

As the sommelier approached with the next wine, I was gearing up the courage to mention something about the wines when he surprised me with the 95 Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico. I talked about my experience with a 85 Quintarelli dessert wine and the sommelier seemed to perk up a bit. To this point he had been friendly and professional. However, now he seemed excited too. While we were talking about the wine, he kept pouring so we received very large pours of this wine. Very deep and rich it paired well with the kreplach. :wink:

For our last pasta, we had the pappardelle bolognese. Originally we were going to swap this out for this evening's special pasta which was chestnut tagliatelle with rabbit ragu. This sounded great to me, but you are only allowed one substition, and we were interested in trying one of the signature dishes like the lune. As expected, the bolognese was very good.

With the bolognese I expected a Brunello di Montalcino. Instead we got the NV? Morgante Nero d'Avola Don Antonio from Sicily. I was prepared to go back to being disappointed with the wine selection, but this had a distinct nose of black cherry and a richness that I didn't expect. It paired well with the bolognese and I found this to be an intellectually stimulating wine as well.

A theme to the main meal was butter sauce (way too much of a good thing) and the high quality of the homemade pasta that is difficult to reproduce at home.

The stylized cheese course consisted of apricot and carrot "marmellata" (marmalade) with goat cheese curd (a ball of wet goat cheese). While there was nothing wrong with this dish, it just didn't do it for me.

The cheese was paired with the 98 Col d'Orcia Moscadello di Montalcino. The sweetness of the wine worked well with the creaminess of the cheese.

Onto the dessert course. It was panna cotta with kumqwats although the menu said saffron panna cotta with pears and cardamom. My wife was served a cranberry tart with ice cream. Both were a disappointment as was the wine paired with it, the 99 Antinori Muffato della Sala, Castello della Salla from Umbria. I didn't find any complexity at all to the wine.

A few petit fours and a check and we were on our way. We discussed the meal in depth on the way home. The service which was a concern in the back of my mind was fine. It's not to the level of a Gramercy Tavern, but I had nothing to complain about in that regard.

As mentioned before, the pasta was excellent as were the combinations, i.e. parsnips, pancetta, and squid ink tagliatelle. However the rich, heaviness of the butter sauces was too much. I can see serving one or even two dishes with this type of sauce, but four in a row was repetitive and late last evening and this morning I've been slightly queasy. While the sommelier's presentation and professionalism was good, I was disappointed with the wine selections. Several of them flew in the face of my stated preferences and several more were servicable yet unispired. Two choices were outstanding, however you don't get into the Hall of Fame by batting .285. Well, maybe if your an old time shortstop. :biggrin: The wine selections were the biggest surprise of all since several friends who are well versed in Italian wine told me that this was an excellent way to enjoy our meal. They also told me of some outstanding wines that they were poured.

Before I rushed back to Babbo I would eat at Lupa, especially when you factor in the prices.

Edited by mikec (log)
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mikec,

thanx for the update. I agree with you that four butter based sauces are too much.

I am surprised that the reserva wine pairings were not that good.

I have never gone that way. I usually ask him to just pick out whatever he pleases - usually with good results.

How do you compare this meal with other tasting menus that you might have had in other top places in NYC. I am not asking you to compare Italian vs. French meals. Just the totality of the meal (satisfaction with taste, complexity, creativity etc) balanced with price.

cheers..

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Thanks, mike. I'm very surprised at the succession of butter sauces.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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First, Happy Anniversary to you and Allison!

Second, thanks for the report. I too am surprised by all the butter and the overall low level of the wines served. I'm sure you spent a decent amount of money for this "experience" and wonder how much you really have to spend (wine-wise) to have a great one.

Overall, it seems that your Babbo experience was underwhelming.

Having never been to Babbo, I will continue to eat at Lupa. :cool:

-yb

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Steve Klc:

The standard wines paired with the pasta tasting menu are printed on the menu and they cost $45/pp for the seven wines. The riserva wines are selected by the sommelier based on the impressions he takes away from our discussions and any substitution that I made to the menu. Thus, our table could be having the riserva pairings and the table next to us could be having it as well, yet we might have different wines from that table. The cost was double the standard pairings per person.

Vivin:

Regarding the wine selection, see what I wrote to Steve above. The sommelier had free reign to choose the wines. The things he did have to take into account were my stated preferences and the fact that the cost for the pairings is fixed. Thus I can't imagine him pouring me wines from Angelo Gaja, etc.

It's almost unfair to compare other tasting menus that I've tried to this one since it was limited to pasta (by our own choice). However, if pressed I would say that I was more impressed with the tasting menus at March, Jean Georges, and the vegetable tasting menu at Gramercy Tavern. The main tasting menu at Gramercy (the last time I had it) included two dishes that I didn't enjoy including the turbot and the fresh bacon.

The pasta tasting menu at Babbo was the cheapest that I have tried at a high end restaurant.

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Mike--you mentioned receiving a large pour at one point--if you had to estimate the normal pour to accompany the tasting menu--would it be the normal pour if you ordered something by the glass--or were the portions described as smaller, tasting portions at that given price point?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Steve:

I would say that the "generous" pour was the equivalent to the pour that one would get when ordering wine by the glass. The other pours were about 2/3's of a "wine by the glass" pour.

Yvonne:

I would think that inserting a non-butter based pasta into the mix early on might be helpful. If you decide to go, I'd be interested in hearing about your experience especially since most of the menu would be the same.

Yaacov:

Thanks bud! I would say that I was underwhelmed by the overall experience. While we had a very nice time, and enjoyed ourselves, given the cost of the meal, I would do things differently in the future. Clearly I would have ordered a bottle of wine rather than the wine pairings. Given the breadth of the wine list, I could have done pretty well. This would have probably brought the cost of the meal down. Plus, I would probably not do the pasta tasting menu again. As we discussed I would be interested to see what the chef at Craft could have come up with at the same price point as this meal.

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Interesting that you would be served any butter sauces, given Mario Batali's quoatation below. When asked why there was no butter on his list of "pantry essentials", he replied:

"Butter is strictly for unsophisticated palates," he scorns. "Use olive oil instead."

This is taken from Epicurious.com:

http://eat.epicurious.com/eat/chef/index.s...ariobatali.html

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As we discussed I would be interested to see what the chef at Craft could have come up with at the same price point as this meal.

Any reason why you chose Craft (and Gramercy Tavern) as a point of comparison? I mean, neither of them are Italian restaurants.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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rbm90:

I guess that they must have run out of olive oil. :wink:

Charles:

LOL. I love how discussions can cross pollenate. For everyone else out there, Charles and I are avid baseball fan's and the topic of whether or not Barry Larkin is a first ballot hall of famer has been making the discussion rounds amongst our friends. Maranville was served up as a comparison. If any of you are even more curious, Larkin doesn't stand a chance of making it to the HOF, regardless of Maranville. :biggrin:

Jason:

The comparison to Gramercy was made because its one of the other restaurants that I've eaten at where I've actually ordered the tasting menu. I've been blown away by their vegetable tasting menu. Yet, I've enjoyed, but not been as impressed with the seasonal tasting menu.

The comparison to craft stems from a phone conversation with my buddy Yaacov. We were just imagining what the chef would have cooked for us if we spent the same kind of money there. All conspiracy theories should be put to the side. :raz:

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I had lunch at Lupa yesterday with Jaybee and Suvir and I liked it much better then Babbo. Aside from some of the food being overly salty, all of my food was good. I had a raw fish platter, a salumi platter, shaved brussel sprouts with pecorino and ceci and leeks. I also had the bitter greens but I could have done without that. We also had a crispy duck with those garganzo raisins and I liked that too. Cheeses were sort of ordinary except for the fresh ricotta with honey. Dreamy stuff. And Suvir ordered all of the desserts! They were mostly fair. Best one was a cardemon panna cotta. I've had better cups of espresso.

This proves out the lunch is better then dinner theory for Italian food. This was a much more interesting meal then anything at Babbo. In Italian, simple is better. Nice bottle of 2001 Sylvio Felluga Collio Tocai Fruiliano for $34. Went great with the food I thought.

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