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Babbo (First 6 Years)


macrosan
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I'm not really pissed, just more annoyed that there is the sense that Midwestern=Rube.

For fuck's sake, people. Get a grip.

If you want to interpret what I wrote as saying that "Midwestern = Rube" then you're on your own there. That's your own interpretation. Nothing I have said in this thread necessarily lends itself to such an interpretation... unless you are highly invested in taking offense at my suggestion that the "restaurant experience" paradigm of most visitors from the Midwest is not the same as thhe "high end NYC restaurant experience" paradigm of most New Yorkers who patronize such establishments. And, frankly, I think one would have to be completely oblivious to such differences to suppose this were not the case, which of course runs in the opposite direction as well.

And that's all I have to say about that. Back to the topic.

Sam,

This wasn't directed at you or this thread in particular, just the overall sentiment.

If there is a non-restaurant equivalent to "being in the weeds" at work, I am in them the last two days and am a little touchy in general.

Why am I spending my time on eGullet if I am so busy at work, you might ask? Not sure I have an answer to that one :blink:

OK, enough midwestern rube vs cosmpolitan NY stuff.

QUOTE (macrosan @ Aug 12 2003, 05:25 PM)

I'm waiting to hear an explanation of how and why a restaurant of the pretension, standing and price-point of Babbo might deliberately or inadvertently "cater for" a "New York crowd" and not be able to provide high quality service to the "non New York crowd".

As for this point - I didn't get the feeling at all that they were catering to a New York crowd as opposed to an out of town crowd. THey are catering to a crowd that has the money to afford the bill at Babbo (and for out of towners, those who have the money to travel to New York City).

Besides, part of the allure of going to a high-end restaurant in New York City for an out of towner (speaking as someone from out of town who just spent five days dining around New York last month) is the feeling that it is a little different experience than eating in your home town.

Bill Russell

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[At] Po, Mario's first restaurant,  there is always some kind of "downtown music" blaring over the sound system at a very loud level. ...

Now, sound levels like this could (and did) impact the experience of Po customers who did not have the cultural expectation of loud downtown music accompanying their dinners.

This is argument by deflection :biggrin:

The fact is that Babbo does not play loud music. The fact is that Babbo is just a pretty regular high-class restaurant in New York. It's "culture" is no different from scores of others. It's style is no different from scores of others. Its market is no different from scores of others.

Babbo should provide a certain (pretty high quality) level of service to its customers. As someone already pointed out, that includes making a whole variety of sizes and shapes and colors and cultures of people happy and comfortable, and that includes helping their customers to have the best possible experience of their food and wine, whether they're foodies or oenologists or eccentric billionaires or folks having a celebration of a lifetime.

Because high quality service can and does do all of those things.

Now I want to refer for the third time to many postings on this board of the last six months, and say that I have detected a growing volume of complaints about the service at Babbo. Most of those complaints are from experienced New York diners, all of them are from experienced diners. Large numbers of the complaints are from regulars at Babbo.

So either tell me I'm wrong in my conclusion about the thrust of recent posts here, or else agree with me that there are indications that Babbo's service has been going downhill.

Edited by macrosan (log)
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The fact is that Babbo does not play loud music.

marcosan, in my experience, the downstairs room can have some reasonably loud music. and to sam's point, if you're not used to that at all, i can see how it might detract. personally, i think it's great. but everyone isn't is wonderful as i am.

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As far as I'm concerned people are people, dining is dining, money is money, no exceptions - you treat the customer with respect not insolence upfront. If the customer is rude then you find a diplomatic way of handling it. The restuarant staff especially the host should not start off the experience with a "you're doing us a favor" attitude.

To address the dress code and behavioral code (without stereotypes), do unto to others as you would like others to do unto you. You want respect dress and act with respect. If the establishment does not act in kind then in my humble opinion :rolleyes: they are simply wrong and need to clean up their act.

I'm almost sorry I started this thread. Smile, be happy.

Everyone enjoy life, food and going out!!!!! :biggrin:

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For what it's worth, I sent my 20-something unemployed sister and her boyfriend to Babbo for her birthday. This is was in March. They had a great time and a great meal, and a great wine suggested by the staff. They're not foodies, but they're not unsophisticated either. They would certainly have told me if the service was problematic. There was also no mention of any difficulty getting reservations.

Now, I have noticed that otherwise intelligent people are surpisingly prone to geographical determinism. It is remarkable how frequently "midwesterner" is in fact conflated with "rube," or "lamé tracksuit habitué," or worse. Just last week I watched a librarian from DC (which, IMO is a pretty provincial town) insult a Texan to her face at a party and laugh as if that were some kind of socially acceptable conversational gambit. The supreme irony: this librarian was herself from Orange County, or the valley, or some other godforsaken wasteland.

note: that's a JOKE. I'm sure SoCal's great. Just a little humor.

I advise those of you from the places singled out for such ridicule to do what I do: smile and nod, then find someone more interesting to talk to. I have no personal stake in this: I'm completely bicoastal, and only set foot in between to change planes.

Having said that, I think there is a very valid point about the rubes in the fancy restaurant, but it has nothing to do with geography. Mario is a TV star. He attracts an audience of people who do not spend all day thinking about food, or arguing about it on message boards, and who are not accustomed to eating at expensive restaurants in NYC or elsewhere. Those people, whether they be from NoLiTa or Nashville, are going to find that Babbo is not like Hardee's (or Hot and Crusty). They may or may not be disappointed, or boorish.

There is, however, no excuse for the rubes in SF. I would tell the spandex-shorts-at-Chez-Panisse story here if I could bear it.

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So either tell me I'm wrong in my conclusion about the thrust of recent posts here, or else agree with me that there are indications that Babbo's service has been going downhill.

Oh, you very well may be right. All I was doing originally was speculating about reasons why the volume of complaints might be increasing. Then I got hijacked by people who took offense at my use of the word "midwestern" to make an example. Frankly, I rather imagine that Mario pulled all his really good people over to Otto to get it going well and that he doesn't have his head in the game over at Babbo the way he used to. AND, the influx of out-of-towners may be adding their reactions to NYC "rudeness" to the mix of complaints.

--

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As a newbie, I have quite enjoyed monitoring this thread. Interesting display of the open forum as sociological experiment, particularly for a Midwesterner. Anyway, to the point.

I have never been to Babbo so my opinion comes purely from afar, reading board comments about declining service. Since the service problems appear to be felt most acutely in the front of the house, I wonder if the problem is simply that they are experiencing the downside of the gain in popularity of their celebrity chef owner. The television shows, the cookbooks, and the fact that the kitchen in Mario's home was featured in the NYTimes would cause the sort of stir (within and without NewYork) that might crush the part of the staff that deals with reservations, seating, and a general drive to turning over tables.

The crush of people should never be an excuse for poor service, regardless of the customer, so it seems that the folks at Babbo should take heart when they receive letters from customers (and they should be monitoring boards such as this one) because they are indications that work needs to be done in order to maintain high quality experiences of the customers. Those willing to pay for the experience of a meal at Babbo have many options in New York the same price range.

Hope Mario is reading and hope they get they pull it together, for the sake of the food.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Hope Mario is reading and hope they get they pull it together, for the sake of the food.

I always hope that the "targets" of our criticism are reading here, but it's more hope than expectation :sad: Some restaurants just get slammed once at eGullet and are never mentioned again. That's because no-one here cares too much whether they succeed or not.

But the reason that places like Babbo and GT and Blue Hill get regularly criticized is that we do care, we do want them to read and respond. I am reminded of a great line in "Heaven Can Wait" when the baddie, following a nasty comment to Julie Christie, says to her "I hope I didn't upset you" and she replies "I don't know you well enough to be upset by you". That's another way of saying that we always tend to find most fault with the places we love, because we want them to go back to being what they were like when we first loved them :smile:

Last November I was sitiing at the bar at Babbo after my meal, sipping an espresso, when Joe Bastianich (who was sitting beside me) engaged me in conversation. Really pleasant guy, although I didn't realize it was Bastianich until later. We spoke about football and New York, then he told me about Otto, and its projected opening in a few months. I said to him that I hoped Mario wouldn't take all his good people, and himself, away from Babbo to staff Otto, and Joe replied basically that he would indeed be doing that for as long as it took to get the new place up and running. He was quite straightforward about it. So maybe that has been the problem, and maybe the good staff haven't come back !

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If you want to interpret what I wrote as saying that "Midwestern = Rube" then you're on your own there.  That's your own interpretation.  Nothing I have said in this thread necessarily lends itself to such an interpretation... unless you are highly invested in taking offense at my suggestion that the "restaurant experience" paradigm of most visitors from the Midwest is not the same as thhe "high end NYC restaurant experience" paradigm of most New Yorkers who patronize such establishments.  And, frankly, I think one would have to be completely oblivious to such differences to suppose this were not the case, which of course runs in the opposite direction as well.

But you did state this in response to my direct question:

It's just cultural differences. Get a feel for the place and try to fit in. Understand that things won't be the way they are for you at wherever you are from. It's no different, really, than the adjustments a New Yorker would have to make coming to your town.

Right. And you interpret this as saying that New York is better than everywhere else rather than pointing out the fact that people from everywhere need to make these kinds of adjustments? For Christ's sake, I specifically mentioned that New Yorkers would have to do the same thing in your town! How, could you please explain, does this imply that the people from your town are rubes compared to New Yorkers?

What you have to understand, Matthew, is that people like you and the other eGullet members are not typical in terms of your ability to make these kinds of adjustments. With your interest in and understanding of food, restaurant culture and high-end dining you are far better able to fit into NY high-end restaurant culture smoothly than 95% of the people from your area who visit NYC every year. The typical out of town visitor to a place like Babbo is operating with significaltly less advantages than you will be when you visit Babbo. The typical out of town visitor to Babbo watches Molto Mario on TVFN and thinks it would be really cool to bring the family to his restaurant while in town to see the Lion King, etc. The same thing works the other way around when the tyical New Yorker comes to your town.

You also said this:
Cakewalk, all I am saying is that midwesterners who go into an NYC restaurant and expect their midwestern behavior to be met with a response that meets their midwestern expectations is a recipe for disappointment.

You still haven't explained what these "cultural differences" are. What is it that you, Sam, *do* in places like Babbo that I wouldn't do? What is it that I would do, that you wouldn't do? (Remember I've lived nearly all my life in the Midwest.) Share your secrets.

I lived in the Midwest myself for five years. Presumably you understand that the words "Midwestern behavior" means "social interactions typical of people from those areas of the country and different from those in NYC" and not "behavoir" in the sense that one's mother uses saying "Matthew! We will have no more of that behavior!"

A few things here. As I pointed out in an earlier post, it is naive to take the position that there are no cultural differences with respect to restaurant culture between different parts of the country. It's too bad that people chose to interpret my example as badmouthing the Midwest, but I think it is only pointing out that there are cultural differences that may lead to some dissatisfaction. If I had said, "Sri Lankan" instead of "Midwestern" would you have taken offense? Somehow I rather think not. I also rather think you would not have taken offense if I had said something similar about New

Yorkers fitting in to restaurants in Grinell, Iowa or Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

As for some of the cultural differences -- keeping in mind that they do not necessarily apply to you and other people on eGullet, nor do they all necessarily apply to all people from the Midwest -- here are some examples:

- The dress in NYC tends to be much more formal than other parts of the country. The staff may feel like you aren't showing the restaurant the proper respect if you show up in the same outfit you'd wear to Bennigans. This means slacks (and not Dockers), an ironed shirt, leather shoes, perhaps a sport coat of some kind.

- Yes, it really is that expensive. 60 - 70 bucks is not considered a lot to pay for drinks and dinner at a good mid-level restaurant like @SQC. Expect to spend $150 - $200 a person. Expressions of surprise/dismay (joking or not) at the prices are not likely to be well met. Also, unless you are into this kind of thing, it may not seem like it was "worth it" to you.

- There may be a lot of things on the menu that you have never/will never eat: brains, liver, thymus, stomach, feet, intestines, etc.

- Children may not be particularly welcome. You may be asked to leave if you let your kids run around, or if they make a lot of noise. Accomodation for strollers is likely to be minimal. There is no kid's menu.

- The waiters tend towards "efficient" rather than "friendly" in demeanor. New Yorkers in general are not as demonstrative in these situations as in most other parts of the country. They are not being rude. This is the way people act here. Your waiter will not give you his/her name and may balk at giving it to you if you ask. It is not appropriate to call the waiters "honey" and other such endearments. If you flirt with the waiter or attempt to "loosen her up" by saying things like "why don't you give me just one big smile" you will not get the response you are looking for. Likewise, the waiters are not likely to respond well to comments such as, "so... I bet you're an actor or a singer or something, right?" They are there to help you select your food and to serve you your food, not to pretend be your friend, which you may be used to.

- Reservations may be very difficult to get. They only accept reservations one month in advance so people can have a chance to get a reservation -- not to make life more difficult for you. Otherwise they'd be booked solid for 5 years in advance. It may also be very difficult to change your reservation as to time and number. If it is more than 30 minutes and 1 person, you are bascally starting from scratch. They do not "owe you" the right to make changes like this just because you already have a reservation.

- Even though your reservation is for 7:00, you may not be seated until 7:30 or later. This is the reality of a busy Manhattan restaurant. It is not something to get upset about unless they are pre-theater reservations (that they know are pre-theater) or until you have been waiting 45 minutes to an hour, at which time you should reasonably expect some kind of compensation.

- If your reservation is for 7:00 or earlier (and many people from the Midwest like to eat dinner at 5:30 or 6:00), they will need to turn your table at some point. You can't hang out there all evening.

- The food is served primo/secondo. That means that there will be no pasta with your veal chop.

- According to the restaurant's philosophy, you may be corrected when you refer to Prosecco as "Champagne" or they may try to get you to change your mind about putting grated cheese on your seafood pasta or they may say things like "risotto... is a starch -- it doesn't really go with spaghetti." They are not talking down to you when they do this.

- They probably won't accept your Discover card... and they may not accept any cards at all.

- There is no smoking section. They are very serious about not allowing smoking. If you light up and resist putting it out immediately, you may be asked to leave.

- The portions may be significaltly smaller than what you are used to. You are not being stiffed or deceived. This is the way it comes.

- There is likely to be a lot less room at your table and between your table and the next table over. Again, you are not being given a "bad table." They are all like that.

- Even though you may be important and have clout with the restaurant people in your home town, you cannot bluster or bribe or ingratiate yourself into a better table or a seat with no reservation.

- There may be famous people there. Leave them alone.

- Etc.

Now... do most of these things apply to you? No. Do they apply to most eGullet readers from around the world? No. Do many of them apply to a significant percentage of the out of town visitors to a place like Babbo? Absolutely. Anyone in the business will tell you that. Do some of then apply to New Yorkers that eat at these restaurants? Sure. But not nearly so many nor so often.

--

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After pushing several buttons and waiting on the phone for a person, a man abruptly answers the phone (as if I had interrupted him during his morning constitution) and I kindly tell him I need to cancel.  Then without any grace at all he continues to speak to me with a very annoyed tone and without even a "thank you for calling", hangs up on me. 

My husband and I decide to make another go of it and call in for the lottery reservation and we win.  We call-in dutifully (I now feel like I’m an employee on call) to confirm our reservation and this time I feel I interrupted a woman doing something because I am clearly annoying her by confirming.  But she delights in telling me that I indeed don’t have a reservation.  I tell her that I do and spoke to a person with an “English accent”, she in turn reprimanded me and said, “The person is not English but Australian.”  .

I asked for champagne (my first mistake) and was given another lesson without warmth or a smile and meekly agreed to the “Sparkling wine”.  We then asked to order some appetizers until my husband arrived (my second mistake).  “We are unable to take any orders that are not complete.” 

When we finished our meal the tables on either side of us had remained empty. 

I happen to like midwesterners despite the fact I'm now a "212", and would like to bring things back to Fireislanddish's original post for a moment.

Above are some excerpts from the post, which plainly describe employees behaving in ways that are completely inappropriate in a service business, let alone an expensive and reknowned restaurant like Babbo. Even at Joe's Burger Shack you get a free coke if someone forgets to say "have a nice day" - yet the reservationists/hosts at Babbo think nothing of cutting people off on the phone, neglecting to say "thank you", and generally acting as if you are a serf attempting to gain admittance to the Lord's banquet table. Fireislanddish is not making this up, I have received the same treatment in the past from Babbo staff, as have friends of mine who live in the city.

The corrections about the sparkling wine vs. champagne, the absolute refusal to be flexible in any way on order timing, the pushiness to turn a table when there were open tables available, etc. are just other symptoms of a staff that is poorly managed. So the kitchen can't be too flexible on order timing due to the high volume on a busy night? Fine, bring the table some amusees or whatever to keep them happy until the other guest arrives. Someone orders Champagne and you only carry sparkling wine? Fine, the server can merely say "I'm sorry we don't have any French Champagne, but I'd be happy to suggest some Italian sparkling wines you might enjoy." This is not rocket science, just basic good service.

When someone of Fireislanddish's level of sophistication (I don't know the person, but clearly they love great food and seem to have traveled the world in search of it) leaves the restaurant feeling a sense of "angst" - someone is wrong, and it is not the customer! This is not about Midwesterners, New Yorkers, music preferences or whatever. It's about a restaurant that has gotten so much hype and demand that they have either forgotten the need for gracious service or are too damned overworked to provide it. I'm just amazed that the food hasn't suffered along with the service.

This kind of attitude isn't unique to Babbo, it can be found at many NYC restaurants. I just don't see why anyone should make excuses for it. Gramercy Tavern has got more business than they know what to do with, and they don't treat people this way. Daniel and Cafe Boulud have equally crowded schedules and have to turn tables to make a profit, yet they don't harrass you if you're 15 minutes late or overtly pressure you to turn a table.

Babbo has amazing food and in some cases excellent service, but I for one am not going to regularly patronize a restaurant that pulls the crap that Fireislanddish experienced. I just wish they'd fix the problems, because I do love Mario's food.

Finally, they haven't bothered to answer Fireislanddish's letter after 3 weeks. I think most restaurants deserve a second chance, since even the best ones can have an off night now and then. However, when someone takes time out of their busy schedule to write a letter to the owners, it should be answered with some sort of apology or explanation, and preferrably an invitation to return and give them another chance to get it right. If Babbo doesn't bother replying, how can I not believe that Mario & Co have either gotten too big for their britches or are stretched too thin to do their jobs properly? (and in case he thinks he or his staff are too busy to respond to their customer's letters, I've seen two thoughtful written responses from Daniel Boulud in similar circumstances and he manages 3 packed houses in NYC).

Edited by Felonius (log)
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As for some of the cultural differences -- keeping in mind that they do not necessarily apply to you and other people on eGullet, nor do they all necessarily apply to all people from the Midwest -- here are some examples:

- The dress in NYC tends to be much more formal than other parts of the country.

Not sure if this is a generalization (wouldn't want that now, would we? :rolleyes: ) but in my experience, the Northeast (Boston, NYC, Washington, Philly) is more formal in dress than the West coast, or Denver and Austin, to name two states in the middle that we've spent a lot of time in. Washington DC is a very formal town. Men go to nightclubs wearing ties, ferchrissakes. I have always percieved NYC to be far more casual than where I'm from.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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As for some of the cultural differences -- keeping in mind that they do not necessarily apply to you and other people on eGullet, nor do they all necessarily apply to all people from the Midwest -- here are some examples:

- The dress in NYC tends to be much more formal than other parts of the country.

Not sure if this is a generalization (wouldn't want that now, would we? :rolleyes: ) but in my experience, the Northeast (Boston, NYC, Washington, Philly) is more formal in dress than the West coast, or Denver and Austin, to name two states in the middle that we've spent a lot of time in. Washington DC is a very formal town. Men go to nightclubs wearing ties, ferchrissakes. I have always percieved NYC to be far more casual than where I'm from.

You fucking snobby DC people! Always calling us New Yorkers shitkickers and yokels! How dare you make a comparison?!

Oh, wait... :wink:

--

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As for some of the cultural differences -- keeping in mind that they do not necessarily apply to you and other people on eGullet, nor do they all necessarily apply to all people from the Midwest -- here are some examples:

- The dress in NYC tends to be much more formal than other parts of the country.

Not sure if this is a generalization (wouldn't want that now, would we? :rolleyes: ) but in my experience, the Northeast (Boston, NYC, Washington, Philly) is more formal in dress than the West coast, or Denver and Austin, to name two states in the middle that we've spent a lot of time in. Washington DC is a very formal town. Men go to nightclubs wearing ties, ferchrissakes. I have always percieved NYC to be far more casual than where I'm from.

You fucking snobby DC people! Always calling us New Yorkers shitkickers and yokels! How dare you make a comparison?!

Oh, wait... :wink:

I wouldn't call DC snobby. Just uptight. :biggrin:

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Ouch. (I'm coming to this thread from the Midwestern mess up from page 3, not directed at you, T.)

Have to catch up on my reading I see. All day in a conference room and no eGlutton makes Soba...well let's not go there.

In my experience, the upstairs tables are preferable to the downstairs seating -- the room's more sedate, the music isn't loud (not that it's loud to begin with) -- although its a bit curious to hear Pink Floyd from the speakers at 10:30 pm in what is supposed to be an enoteca/Italian-focused restaurant :raz: (j/k btw) -- and the atmosphere isn't as cramped (but that's my perception, other views may certainly vary.

Haven't been back to Babbo since earlier this year with the Perlows and Suzanne/HWOE, so I can't really comment on the quality or lack thereof of service. As noted in our posts, we found the service to be pretty good, but as people have also posted, there seems to be a certain level of service that's lacking in some respects. Now, as to the cause of this, who can say? Time will tell as to whether things rise to the occasion, if enough people complain, will management take steps to address the issue? One certainly hopes so.

Babbo remains on my list of places to go (and there's so much to have there!!! besides the pasta tasting menu). I suppose if worse comes to worse, you could always try Lupa, or failing that, Otto. :blink::hmmm:

Good luck,

Soba

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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In Ottawa we always get free back bacon, eh? So what's with the "no free back bacon" in New York, eh? Eh?

So. You call this "beer", eh?

"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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A few things here.  As I pointed out in an earlier post, it is naive to take the position that there are no cultural differences with respect to restaurant culture between different parts of the country.  It's too bad that people chose to interpret my example as badmouthing the Midwest, but I think it is only pointing out that there are cultural differences that may lead to some dissatisfaction.  If I had said, "Sri Lankan" instead of "Midwestern" would you have taken offense?  Somehow I rather think not.  I also rather think you would not have taken offense if I had said something similar about New

Yorkers fitting in to restaurants in Grinell, Iowa or Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

As for some of the cultural differences -- keeping in mind that they do not necessarily apply to you and other people on eGullet, nor do they all necessarily apply to all people from the Midwest -- here are some examples:

- The dress in NYC tends to be much more formal than other parts of the country.

  [snip]

Now... do most of these things apply to you?  No.  Do they apply to most eGullet readers from around the world?  No.  Do many of them apply to a significant percentage of the out of town visitors to a place like Babbo?  Absolutely.  Anyone in the business will tell you that.  Do some of then apply to New Yorkers that eat at these restaurants?  Sure.  But not nearly so many nor so often.

I think we're finally getting at the issue.

FWIW, I'm not--& wasn't--taking this personally. Rather I found it odd that you choose the examples that you did for the type of customers that may be causing Babbo to not be the experience that you desire it to be. I would have pursued the issue even if you had substituted "Sri Lankan" for "Midwestern." I'm cosmopolitian in that way, I guess.

I'd prefer to term the "differences" as social rather than cultural. That's another issue, but if we need to pursue it, we can do so. I'll use social differences for now.

For me, my charitable interpretation of what you're saying is this:

"Tourists" are ruining Babbo because they don't understand the social etiquette of Babbo (i.e., the social etiquette of eating out at finer dining establishments.)

If I'm misunderstanding you, please help me along.

Now "tourist" still comes across as perhaps unnecessarily pejorative but I'm looking for some shorthand. Perhaps someone has a better term?

I'll use "tourist" for now.

The upshot of this is that I believe Babbo has encouraged the "tourists" to visit. Mario has been engaged in a lot of self-promotion & Babbo is the most often named of his eateries. I'd say that he's gotten what he's asked for--if "tourists" are really the problem.

I'm all for--and quite familiar with--the forms of social etiquette that you've described, Sam. But I guess unless I'm in a private club, I don't expect that everyone will heed those unwritten rules. (And even in private clubs, unwritten social rules are either re-written or broken all the time.)

I guess I feel that we have to cut the "tourists" (or perhaps, the "masses") some slack. If we don't, we infer that we're calling for public places that only allow entry by those deemed to fit into some form of new aristocracy.

Perhaps we're back to that notion of inclusion that we touched on yesterday.

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Babbo remains on my list of places to go (and there's so much to have there!!! besides the pasta tasting menu).  I suppose if worse comes to worse, you could always try Lupa, or failing that, Otto.  :blink:  :hmmm:

babbo is very uneven in my opinion and although i did have good meals there, the last time, which was about a year ago, a greasy braised fennel app made me sick. i don't think i had ever sent the food back before (or since) in a restaurant. had to cancel the rest of my order and leave. not much inclination to go back, but then again, there are so many restaurants in new york. in terms of service, i think that in some cases, mario's star status makes some staff members feel like they are special/stars too.

but, Soba--Otto??? Otto????!!! if all else fails go somewhere else! Otto is great for wine or even gelato but unless the food has vastly improved lately please don't go there for dinner. Mario's touch is there (lardo, etc.) but you can't call it Mario's food and it's just plain bad.

by the way, you can always eat at Babbo at the bar or get one of the walk-in tables they save in the bar area, best to go on the early side though.

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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I agree.  And please, slkinsey STOP, STOP, STOP, ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :shock:  You should be ashamed. :shock:

ehh, don't worry about him. He gets annoyed when the checkout girl in North Carolina starts a conversation with him (he thinks she's talking on her cell phone, like they do at the West Side Market). :rolleyes:

I'm KIDDING! Everyone relax. BREATHE! :laugh:

I'm somewhat shocked to hear about the behavior of the waitstaff at Babbo--as Sam mentioned, we've always had lovely luck with them (and then there was the time that the waitress for the table next to ours was an old college buddy of mine from AZ, THAT was something!). As the one in charge of making our reservations, though, I have to agree--the hosts and whoever is answering the phones there have always been just inexcusably rude. I keep wanting to throw a glass of ice water on them, or send them to charm school.

K, originally from the SOUTHWEST. That's the SOUTHWEST.

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Madziast, I was being facetious.

Unfortunately, there isn't an emoticon for that.

Lupa seems to be "the go-to" place for people who dislike Babbo (and vice versa). Me, I like almost anything. The two have certain similarities, and yet are different enough such that people who dislike Babbo have ethereal experiences at Lupa.

Can't recommend Esca because I've never been there.

Yours,

Soba

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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