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Babbo (First 6 Years)


macrosan
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Madziast, I was being facetious.

Unfortunately, there isn't an emoticon for that.

he he, there should be!

I find Esca hit or miss as well, crudo is impeccable and always good, other dishes vary. fritto misto veeeery heavy.

Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin.

P.G. Wodehouse

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

No, don't be.

You raise a couple of valid questions that other posters have responded to, with more finesse than I could express. (Also because I was actually doing work today. :blink: )

I'm sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience at Babbo, one which hopefully the passage of time will alleviate, and which might, hopefully allow a second chance.

Soba

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but I'm looking for some shorthand.  Perhaps someone has a better term?

Perhaps "mainstream" would work?

Think of it as in, cutting edge/avant-garde which tops off and stablizes once the rest of the crowd catches up?

Not as pejorative and can be extended into many, many fora, not just foodism.

Soba

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but I'm looking for some shorthand.  Perhaps someone has a better term?

Perhaps "mainstream" would work?

Think of it as in, cutting edge/avant-garde which tops off and stablizes once the rest of the crowd catches up?

Not as pejorative and can be extended into many, many fora, not just foodism.

Soba

Soba, I do have to think that a restaurant owned and run by a chef who struts his stuff on the Food Network is mainstream by definition. Babbo serves recognizable food and drink, charges what the market will bear and will let pretty well anyone in as long they are presentable and their credit cards work, correct?

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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True, but I believe Matthew was looking for an alternate term that might have less of a pejorative connotation than say "tourist" or what's been discussed before, to define the sort of person who patronizes a restaurant long after the intensely food-devoted crowd has moved on (not that people who love Babbo intensely have left for greener pastures, but you get the idea, I think).

As to whether Babbo has truly been mainstreamed, well that's another story for another evening. :blink:

Soba

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I agree with MatthewB. I disagree with SLK.

I just had an awful experience at Babbo. July 20 @8:30 p.m. Four of us tourists from Puerto Rico, reservation made way in advance. Properly dressed but males wearing neckties. No straw hats or guayaberas and we all had socks. Arrived 10 minutes early. At 9:00 p.m. not seated yet. Left. No place to wait. No explanations. No apologies. Just a lot of frequent bumps, excuse mes, and promises to be seated as soon as the next table was readied ("lots of customers are paying their bills!!!").

Incredible behavior for a restaurant of this supposed caliber.

By the way, I have never seen Mario on Food TV. I have seen Emeril tons of times but never been or care to visit any of his restaurants.

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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.

Yes. If that is what you think, then you are totally and completely misunderstanding me. What I was saying was that I thought certain cultural differences, certain expectations that are by and large different for most out of town visitors to NYC than they are for NYC high-end restaurant habitues might, in part, explain the rise in the number of complaints about Babbo.

Let me give one example completely removed from restaurants: In New York City supermarkets, we don't tend to talk to the checkout people, and they don't talk to us. It is quite common that the only word that is exchanged between the cashier and the purchaser is the price of the groceries. We like it this way. It's efficient and we get out of there as quickly as possible. On the other hand, in Texas is is quite common for customers to chat a bit with the cashier -- to chat with the cashier to the extent that it takes you just a little bit longer to go through the checkout line. In Texas, this is all part of being polite. Now, let's say that one of our Texans is in a New York grocery store. He expects that the cashier will chat with him. But she doesn't. In fact, she doesn't particularly respond to the Texan's overtures to engage in banter. Our Texan is angry now! That cashier was rude to him! He writes an angry letter to the manager of the grodery store, and posts on eGrocery about how much the customer service must be slipping at Fairway because he had a simply awful experience where the cashier was unbelievable surly to him.

Do you see what happened? The cashier was not, in fact, rude to the Texan. The cashier acted in a way that is perfectly fine for a New York City grocery store. The fact that the Texan had a bad experience was due to cultural differences between the Texan's understanding of what is expected at a grocery store, which is based on his experience in grocery stores in Texas, and the New York City grocery store culture, which is completely different. More to the point, neither one of them is right or wrong or better or worse. They are just different.

I never said that one was better in the other. That was all read into my posts by other people. The closest thing I said to that was that I thought NYC people tended to behave (and I used this in the general sense, which includes reactions, perceptions, etc.) more appropriately in NYC restaurants. If you understand the foregoing, this hardly seems like a radical statement. And, as I said numerous times, one could say the same of New Yorkers in other environments.

Do you see how similar situations might arise when someone from a different part of the country, with a different set of expectations as to dress, modes of interaction, etc. and who has perhaps never been to a fine dining establishment goes to a high end New York City restaurant like Babbo? I can. And I've seen it happen plenty of times. I have also seen similar things happen with people from the Northeast in Southern barbeque places, etc. It's no big deal. Gosh, people tend to have cultural paradigms that are formed largely by the culture around them. What a revelation! Sometimes issues arise when people with certain cultural paradigms find themselves in settings that do not share those paradigms. What?! Tar and feather the guy who said that!

Now... I ask you, does that seem like I'm calling everyone in the Midwest a slack-jawed yokel?

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

In my usage, it means someone who doesn't live here who comes to visit. Period. Nothing pejorative about it whatsoever.

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.

In my usage, they are the same thing. I'm not using it in the "high culture versus low culture" sense, but in the social science "American culture versus Elbonian culture" sense. 5b and c here.

--

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Bravo Felonius, that's a great post :biggrin:

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

When you have had a few people on these boards publicly accuse you of slandering 90% of the American population when such was not your intent, then you can lecture me on whether or not I should be ashamed. Until then, please keep it to yourself.

--

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In New York City supermarkets, we don't tend to talk to the checkout people, and they don't talk to us.

The UWS must be in a different city than Nolita. I talk to the checkout people in the Met, although I don't get into the conversations about their kids like other people do down here. The problem with generalities is that they sound like stereotypes. As often as not, generalities will get you in hot water faster than analogies. Of course that might seem truer to someone who speaks of generalities a lot.

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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Probably in some way the tourists are ruining Babbo but not in the way you think.

Babbo has a national reputation that is enhanced by Mario's TV presence. Therefore, one somewhat small, highly touted restaurant in NYC has attracted some small percentage of a population of 280 million people or so.

That is a huge pressure on a place if only in the sheer volume of interest in acquiring a reservation and ultimately in serving all of those reservations. It has been done sucessfully in some places but it certainly is no mean feat.

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Bravo Felonius, that's a great post   :biggrin:

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

When you have had a few people on these boards publicly accuse you of slandering 90% of the American population when such was not your intent, then you can lecture me on whether or not I should be ashamed. Until then, please keep it to yourself.

You started out by saying that people who have not had the benefit of your unique set of experiences were somehow not fit or qualified to dine at a place like Babbo. Now you are extending that to people who post on eGullet, and specifically, to the person who kicked off the whole Babbo debate. That makes the people who are qualified to post a pretty exclusive club.

Has there been some dramatic change in eGullet policy that no one has told us about?

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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maybe we can all just cut sam some slack this one time. i haven't seen a history of sam putting his foot in his mouth, or offending groups of people with a single comment, so i have a feeling this might be an isolated case. or at least i'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.

i think everyone has made their points. i don't think anyone is going to get an "i'm sorry" from sam, because i think he didn't mean it the way it sounded. i always find it distrubing when others tell people what their intent was. now whether or not he should say "i'm sorry" or "i was wrong" to help everyone get past this isn't really the point. it takes 2 to tango. if we can just get back to the other issues, this one will become a non-issue.

the next time he does it, however, send him over to that heartland board. those people are like a hungry pack of wolves over there!

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What I was saying was that I thought certain cultural differences, certain expectations that are by and large different for most out of town visitors to NYC than they are for NYC high-end restaurant habitues might, in part, explain the rise in the number of complaints about Babbo.

Let me give one example completely removed from restaurants:  In New York City supermarkets, we don't tend to talk to the checkout people, and they don't talk to us.  It is quite common that the only word that is exchanged between the cashier and the purchaser is the price of the groceries.  We like it this way.  It's efficient and we get out of there as quickly as possible.  On the other hand, in Texas is is quite common for customers to chat a bit with the cashier -- to chat with the cashier to the extent that it takes you just a little bit longer to go through the checkout line.  In Texas, this is all part of being polite.  Now, let's say that one of our Texans is in a New York grocery store.  He expects that the cashier will chat with him.  But she doesn't.  In fact, she doesn't particularly respond to the Texan's overtures to engage in banter.  Our Texan is angry now!  That cashier was rude to him!  He writes an angry letter to the manager of the grodery store, and posts on eGrocery about how much the customer service must be slipping at Fairway because he had a simply awful experience where the cashier was unbelievable surly to him.

Do you see what happened?

Yes, I totally get what you're saying. Especially since I came to NYC and the rest of the planet via the South. However, in my humble opinion, this analogy isn't particularly relevant to the problem Fireislanddish experienced at Babbo. Babbo is not a supermarket or BBQ joint. Babbo is high end restaurant in a very competitive city. I don't think it matters if it's located in NYC, London, Paris or Timbuktu - customers of all cultures are going to expect the staff to treat them in a polite and deferential manner. I don't expect the checkout person at the 68th St. corner deli to ask me how my day was, and I can spend 10 minutes(and usually do) talking about family, the weather, and fishing to the guy behind the counter at my favorite BBQ joint in Birmingham, AL.

I do however, expect the folks at Babbo to say "please", "thank you", and apologize out the wazzoo if they make a customer stand in their packed bar until past 9pm when the reservation was for 8:30. This is not what they do, in my experience (and that of the fellow egulleteer from Puerto Rico). Here is what happens. The jerky host glares at you because you made his life difficult by showing up 10 minutes early. Then he tells you to stand in the bar until a table is available. Then you proceed to get run over by busboys and waitstaff trying to service the tables up front by the window. Then you try to get a drink and the bartender ignores you for 5 minutes. Then you order something and the bartender lectures you about what you should really be drinking. Then you run back to the host and are scolded for bothering him when a table is not ready yet. And on and on and on. I know. I've been there many times.

Here is how it should work at Babbo, as it does at other restaurants in that league. You walk in and are seated within 10 minutes. If not, everyone apologizes profusely. If you wait another few minutes, a waitperson or bartender seeks you out and offers a complimentary glass of champagne or whatever. If you aren't seated within 30 minutes, the manager begs you to stay and brings you some amusees at the bar.

So long as Babbo is as "hot" as it is, I doubt the second scenario will ever happen. They don't care, and don't have to care. That doesn't make it right for people in a service business to behave the way they do.

So can I beat this dead horse a few more times? Babbo is not a supermarket, Babbo is not a supermarket.......

P.S. Sam, from what I gather you are an opera singer? Not sure if I've heard you (where do you perform?), but I suspect you've got a promising career as a lawyer if the singing gig ever gets old. :raz:

Edited by Felonius (log)
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maybe we can all just cut sam some slack this one time.

I agree with that. There really is no need, nor justification, for people getting hot under the collar over some perceived but unintended slight, and certainly no reason to start personal attacks on Sam. I disagree strongly with some of what Sam said, but if I can't disagree without getting emotionally worked up about it, then I'd be better off not reading at eGullet.

I don't know Sam from Luciano Pavarotti, but from what he writes I would deduce that he's an intelligent, reasonable, interesting guy. What more could we want ? He sure beats the hell out of his predecessor :laugh:

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tommy, you're absolutely right. Sam does need some slack. I don't think he had an ill intent. Nor am I willing to ascribe *any* intent to Sam.

The issue here is that "intent" is very difficult--if not impossible to near impossible--to ascribe to someone's writing. Thus, we will always have a gap between our "words" & our "intent." My concern has been with Sam's *words,* not Sam's intent. In many (& most, if not all) ways, Sam's intent is irrelevant. What is relevant--in the context of a public discussion that utilizes the written form--are the words that Sam chooses to post here.

Choose your words wisely for others can only read your words, not your intent. :wink:

(And this isn't about the Midwest nor the Heartland. It's about words concerning an exclusive "we"--a "we" that seems especially troublesome to use in a public discussion--that dismissed the original poster. If anyone deserves an apology, it's FireIslanddish. I believe that eGullet can extend much better welcomes.)

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Yes. Thank you, Tommy.

I would like to point out a few things, and then I am going to absent myself from this conversation:

1. I have never said that "tourists are ruining Babbo" or that "people who were not from NYC are not qualified to eat at Babbo." In fact, I have quite clearly explained several times that this is precisely not what I have been saying. If certain participants on this thread decide that they want to deliberately interpret my remarks as having that meaning, there is nothing I can do about that. I have clarified my thoughts to the point where I think they would be clear to any reasonably intelligent person reading with an unbiased eye (never mind the charity to give me the benefit of taking me at my word when I explain myself).

2. What did do was speculate about whether the recent huge increase in visitors to Babbo who came to the restaurant with different sets of cultural expectations than typical NYC high-end restaurant-goers might explain part of the observed increase in complaints. The fact that New York City culture -- which is to say "the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits characteristic of that place" -- is different from mainstream medium-to-small town Midwest culture (or West Coast culture or Southwest culture or Deep South culture or Sri Lankan culture, etc.) is quite clear. It is, frankly, ridiculous to suggest otherwise. It also seems to me quite naive to assert that cultural differences don't or can't ever play a part in a customer's satisfaction at a restaurant. I see this happening all the time with Americans in European restaurants.

3. As Tommy surmises, I am not going to apologise for my remarks. I don't think there is anything wrong with what I said or with what I intended to say. That said, I am sorry and disappointed that certain people have chosen to interpret my remarks as having a different meaning and underlying motivation. Perhaps there is some history there of which I am not aware, but I really don't care. I don't think there is anything in my history here that would suggest that I share the sentiments that have been ascribed to me by these individuals. At this point all I can do is decline further interaction or discussion with these individuals and abstain from future participation on this thread -- and that is what I will do.

--

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Has there been some dramatic change in eGullet policy that no one has told us about?

The answer to that question is yes, about once a week. Information is available on a need to know basis. :raz:

For what it's worth, There's always a learning curve when you enter a different culture or environment, or when you deal with someone from outside your culture. For all that, there are overlapping "cultures." There may be a new York culture--or several that may or may not overlap in places, such as a west side culture, an east side culture, an uptown culture or a downtown culutre and the last two are relative to how far north you live on the island of Manhattan--and there may be a "midwestern culture or cultures, but there are also restaurant cultures including one that defines behavior in a stratum of cutting edge Italian restaurants across the boundaries of other cultures.

eGullet is a culture and one in which I might point out that the word "tourist" has a loaded meaning that is never going to be fully apparent to those who arrive this year. I can tell you that it has something to do with eating starches, and trust me that it won't make much more sense if it's further explained.

Long before eGullet came into being, a stranger on the Internet asked me to recommend some restaurants in Paris. Not even knowing if the stranger was a person or a dog, (that's not going to mean much if you never saw the cartoon in the New Yorker years ago) I wasn't sure if she'd like the ones I liked so I asked what kinds of restaurants she liked at home. She answered "Applebbee's." I was stymied. At the time, I had never heard of Applebee's and assumed it was a local restaurant in her home town. I asked for a kind of restaurant and she gave me the name of a local restaurant or so I thought, but she thought she was replying in terms of a type of restaurant everyone would recognize. When I figured it all out, I realized she was a rube from the midwest and that she'd only be an embarrassment to sophisticated Americans abroad and I talked her into going to Italy. Now, If I needed a smiley for that last sentence, for anyone to understand I am kidding around with people I consider my friends and intellectual equals, as well as my socio-economic superiors, this place is in trouble. This site is rampant with leg pullining. Newbies should not be quick to take offense and people shouldn't push for retractions. At the same time, a simple apology for a statement that was too easy to take out of context will go a lot further than a detailed defense. I am a supporter of the midwest. I have eaten very well in Chicago and Philadelphia. :biggrin:

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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Sam,

I think it is all water under the bridge.  In fact the water is a day or so downstream now.

I've noticed that eGullet has an uncanny knack of stepping into the same river twice, and even three or four times. But we can space it properly. :wink:

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I am a supporter of the midwest. I have eaten very well in Chicago and Philadelphia.  :biggrin:

Hey! Watch it. The midwest doesn't start until Pittsburgh... after you pass through the Deep South's northern annex, a/k/a/ Pennsylbama (or Pennsyltucky in some local patios)...

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I am a supporter of the midwest. I have eaten very well in Chicago and Philadelphia.  :biggrin:

Hey! Watch it. The midwest doesn't start until Pittsburgh... after you pass through the Deep South's northern annex, a/k/a/ Pennsylbama (or Pennsyltucky in some local patios)...

Some of them patios can be rough-spoken places. :biggrin:

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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I am a supporter of the midwest. I have eaten very well in Chicago and Philadelphia.  :biggrin:

Hey! Watch it. The midwest doesn't start until Pittsburgh... after you pass through the Deep South's northern annex, a/k/a/ Pennsylbama (or Pennsyltucky in some local patios)...

I demand you retract that implied slight against Kentuckiana.

:wink:

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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