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tetsujustin

Eating New York

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A question for those of you who frequent Jewel Bako:  if tetsujustin went back tonight, would he get a similar meal or would all of the courses be different?

i had the omakase back in september and it was nearly identical to everything tetsujustin had. there may have been slight differences in the specific pieces of fish served, but the rest looks really familiar. at morimoto's in philly, if you tell them you've already had the omakase on a previous visit, you will absolutely get different dishes the next time around. not sure if it works the same way at JB since i've been there only once.

i would also agree with earlier sentiments that you must compare to yasuda (my favorite) and/or kuruma before jumping to any conclusions.

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A question for those of you who frequent Jewel Bako:  if tetsujustin went back tonight, would he get a similar meal or would all of the courses be different?

i had the omakase back in september and it was nearly identical to everything tetsujustin had. there may have been slight differences in the specific pieces of fish served, but the rest looks really familiar. . .

I can second that. I was there in December, had omakase and the meal was very much the same as is pictured here including grilled giant prawn, mushrooms in parchment and broth flavored with yuzu. It was an excellent meal. Also, compared to restaurants with which JB competes, I found it very well priced. That said, for about the same price, Sushi Seki cooks the pants off of JB. I did omakase at the bar there (at 2am no less) last week. Unforgettable.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Thanks for all your replies.

When it comes to my rating, I've just got to say that I really, really take into consideration service as it pertains to my meal. Probably a lot moreso than any diner would just because I've had the pleasure of really going to some top notch restaurants and in my lifetime, eaten a lot of great food. That being said, there are some times in which a dish could be good, but taste just like any other dish of the same product and cooking technique used. However, I believe if the service really sells me the product, tells me how long an item was braised, tells me how fresh the product is, tells me this and that and makes my mouth water over it, it really helps the taste. Which is why I don't mind the power of suggestion as I stated in the above post. I really felt educated in my experience at Jewel Bako thanks to Shimizu-san and staff, and that's why the rating "was so high" even if not everything was on level.

Soba: No sake, sorry. I would have loved it but I usually to take into consideration that part of the meal I'm not paying for. I'll splurge fully when it's all on my tab. I'll be looking forward to it though.

As for Yasuda and other sushi bars.... so little time, so many restaurants. Worry not though, they're all on my list. The same goes for a kaiseki dinner. Oof... so many places... so little time. We'll see how things go though.

Sakana, I hope I'll be able to make it to another sushi bar before you come up to the city so I can give you a reccomendation.

A little thing I'd like to say however, Masa and probably Essex House (though I really would like to go) are not on my list at the moment for the only fact that I know I would not enjoy it. I must say that if I ever have to worry about how much I am paying for this food and expecting so much out of service and ingredients and everything, I'm just asking for a bad time and I don't want to take a shot in the dark. However, I did mention this to my father (who is the one I negociate with when it comes to eating matters) and he said he'd love to go. So! Lets just hope that he comes up here one weekend before I leave New York so we can eat at Masa on Saturday and ADNY on Sunday. (ooh what a weekend.)

Time is running short though, I graduate in the not-so-distant future.

Don't worry though, I'll tear through your city as fast as I can.

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Justin,

Really interesting thread. I would fathom a guess that your "more than average" experienced palate has helped you in school?

What are your plans after graduating?

Where else are you hoping to experience before your time expires?

ducphat


Patrick Sheerin

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Great report again. My favorite photo was the shrimp with the salt. It is simply a beautiful image. I'm sorry the dining part of it was somewhat disappointing. I think you must go to Yasuda and Kuruma. We need to see your impressions of these fine places, especially in the context of this review.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Great reviews, Justin! hanks for takin the time to post them.

Chad


Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.

-- Aristophanes (450 BC - 388 BC)

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interestingly enough, I was back looking for this thread in the history so I could post my newest report before I realized that it was up here.

Sorry for the week off folks, I came down with a bug a couple weekends ago and couldn't make it to Balthazar. I've had some schoolwork to catch up, but here's this week's report on Babbo.

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Babbo

After being antsy from a week off from eating in the city, I was highly anticipating my reservation at Babbo (which I secured a day before, no less.) and was to the point of having a bounce in my step as I rounded the corner off of Washington Square Park. Myself having very little knowledge and no background in Italian food, except for the cuisines of Europe and Mediterranean class that I took about a month ago, I was excited to really try a restaurant that even natural Italians revere. My limited experience with Italian food was mostly Americanized. A lot of spaghetti houses, a whole bunch of garlic, maybe so risotto here or there, but nothing that I believe could be said as food that someone who is from Italy or at least traveled there could be comparable, though I have had the pleasure of enjoying Tony Mantauno’s Spiaggia in Chicago. It also did help that Chef Batali has won a James Beard award, is a food network personality (and one of my favorites at that, because he talks about stuff that I have no idea about), holds a three star rating for Babbo, and has also secured an Iron Chef position, which I am an avid fan of and hold to this day that I will one day be. So you could imagine my expectations as I walked through the door. I wanted great, maybe not authentic, but very Italian food in flavor with great service, and a reason to believe that this restaurant is on the three-star echelon.

I walked through the door of the obviously very crowded room, trying to figure out where the hostess stand was. The bar was so crowded that I had to fight and swim my way through the mounds of people to get to the stand and fulfill my reservation. I looked around and noticed how the restaurant as a whole looked like a house, like someone lived here during the day and pulled out tables at night for a restaurant, with a large round table in the middle with flowers and a whole bunch of wines. The only other restaurant in memory that I could think that was compared to this is Charlie Trotter’s where it feels like you’re dining in someone’s home. I hoped that we would not get a downstairs table as it just seemed very cramped and bunched together. The tables along the wall seemed as if they had less than a foot of space between each other... like as if you would be a part of other people’s conversations. Thankfully, we got a seat upstairs where it was much more spaced out and it even seemed like more of a relaxed feel because of less noise and movement.

My friend and I decided not to get the tasting menu, as it didn’t look too horribly interesting to us, and decided we could be more adventurous if we ordered a la cart and had bites of each other’s food. I found it odd that the tasting wasn’t even listed on the menu (or maybe I just missed it?). Neither was the pasta tasting. Our “amuse” so to speak was a couple of crostinis absolutely covered in marinated chick peas. The tastes were there, as it was very garlicky and the peas were soft and agreeable, but it was hard to keep from dropping the peas as the rolled off on to the table. However, it just gave a hint of what our meal was to be like: very down to earth, rustic, and very Italian. Also, though this is nitpicky and I didn’t mind, James Beard would have left before any of the courses came out. The bread was just... not great. Cold, and it seemed store-bought.

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My antipasti came, which was a Pig’s Foot Milanese with rice beans, arugula, and stewed tomatoes. The pig’s foot was flattened and cooked crispy, which I found very nice because of the gelatinous properties that are associated with pig’s foot. It’s usually very jelly like and soft, and it was a great stark contrast to the crispy texture of the outside of the dish. The tomatoes and beans were nice because they gave a slight bit of acidity that cut through the slightly oily Milanese and the arugula was a good as a contrast of flavor. Nice start.

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My friend’s antipasti came, as he ordered Warm Tripe “alla parmingana.” I’ve only had tripe on certain occasions, all of them being in Asian food. There’s a stewed tripe with a hefty brown sauce that you can get at dim sum, tripe that in with your pho, and also I’ve had tripe that I’ve cooked at Korean Barbeque. None of that was even close to this though in flavor or texture. The tripe was very, very soft and only slightly chewy. I can tell this was stewed or cooked for a very, very long time. It had that flavor that only tripe has, but accompanied by a very rustic-tasting thick red sauce. The whole dish itself had a very “Italian countryside home” feeling to it and I must say that the accompaniment of the grilled pieces of garlicked bread was a good choice. Without it, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this as much.

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The Primi came, as I had ordered the beef cheek ravioli with crushed squab liver and truffles, and my friend had ordered the goose liver ravioli with balsamic vinegar and brown butter. The waiter commented that these two were the two most popular and probably best pasta dishes on the menu. I really liked my beef cheek ravioli as it had a both light taste to it as it wasn’t... stick-to-your-ribs as you ate it, but as you chewed it, the mouthfeel was very meaty. It had that braised beef flavor to it, and it also helped that it had a decent amount of truffles put onto it.

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The goose liver ravioli was very, very good the first couple pieces that I had. The balsamic reduction was sweet, which was a great accompaniment to the liver flavor that filled the ravioli, but as I ate a few more, I couldn’t help but wonder if I anyone would be able to eat a whole plate of this. My friend had the last one on the plate, but neither of us was fighting over it. I also must say that though I don’t expect a pasta course to have towers or great contrasting colors on it, I couldn’t help but think that maybe more care could have been taken in plating. Both plates were very sloppy as there was sauce on the rim, the food was off center, and just not completely pleasing to the eye. Also excuse the hand in the picture (it looks like my friend is flicking the pasta off), I realized his hand was there the last second and told him to take it away. haha.

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For secondi, I had the barbequed squab with roasted beet farroto and porcini mustard as I was staring at the pigeons in grand central when I came off the train. The squab itself was great, with the definite barbeque flavor, but also a bit sweet on the skin. The flesh was boned out with the exception of the leg and wing and was very soft and tender. As for flavor, the sweetness of the skin, the flavor of barbequing and the slight gaminess of the squab was a great flavor. However, I really just didn’t like the farroto. I’ve never had it so I have nothing to compare it to, but the flavor was a nice beety flavor, slightly sweet, the texture to me was just very chewy and gummy. I don’t know, maybe it’s supposed to be like that... as a personal preference, I didn’t like it at all.

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My friend had the skate with hen of the woods and butternut squash for his secondi, and I’m a big fan of skate... and this really was a nice preparation. It was dusted and pan fried as is most skate wings, (though I am curious about the poached skate win at Le Bernardin) and the hen of the woods were nice and mushroomy, and the butternut squash was... well, butternut squash. The flavors were very familiar, and not to say that is was bad, but it was a very safe dish as it pertains to flavor, though I must say I did enjoy it.

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For dolci, I chose a pineapple crostata with buttered rum gelato. This was a good dessert with the sort’ve tart-like crostata filled with sweet-sour pineapple, which is a great match with the creamy rum ice cream.

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My friend was a little more full than I was and chose to go with the selection of sorbets and gelatos. From the back, left to right, it was hazelnut, vanilla, and espresso gelatos, and on the front it was mango, almond milk, and green apple sorbets. My favorite would have to be the mango, which was one of the better mango sorbets that I’ve had, and also the espresso, but I just like anything even remotely coffee flavored. The selection was nice and a good change.

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All in all, the food didn’t exactly blow me over, but there were a couple good dishes, and I was more than satisfied with the food that was put out. I felt as if I went on both the adventurous side of things and also played it safe on a select couple dishes. Textures were there, flavors were there, and I was at least slightly educated on really what Italian food and especially how Italian food really is regional. Not everything is tomatoes, basil, and garlic (which I have no problem against) and for that I was relieved.

However, I did have a couple frustrations with the restaurant, and somewhat partly because it was busy. Our waiter seemed to be swamped and spent a very minimal time with our table. The back waiters and bussers that mostly took care of us just seemed like they didn’t want to be there. I’ve been told time and time again that a smile can really change the mood of a meal and I think that’s what this service was sorely lacking. When the food was placed down, it was more or less clunked down by a backwaiter, who told us what it was like he was reciting something off a script in a robotic voice before he quickly hurried away. Given, that he is only a back waiter, I think our waiter could have really benefited at this point by really getting us amped and salivating about the food with the descriptions. I just believe there could have been more done. The one thing that I did like about service was that they put a serviette (napkin) down over the table between secondi and dolci to cover up any stains, which I just like as a gesture. Otherwise, when I got up to look for the bathroom, I wandered around for a minute before I had to ask where it was, and before I left the restaurant, both my friend and I asked for a copy of the menu (I use it to write these, he uses it for his collection). They only had one copy and refused to pull one out of the covers. I suppose I understand, but I guess people like me love that extra step people take to make things even more special. I’ve been told by instructors here that the hardest thing to do in the industry is to exceed expectations of the customer. Sure, I had a good time at Babbo, but I was hoping for extraordinary. I didn’t get that, but if I had a chance, I’d be back to try to food, and with a lower expectation. I also suspect that maybe I didn't have the best waiter ever, and maybe it was just really, really busy. (They turned one table a third time as we were getting up). I accept that every place has an off night. Too bad it was on my night. Also, I don’t know if there’s also a downstairs bathroom, but the one upstairs has got to be the smallest one I’ve ever been too. Not to be graphic, but people literally have to do their thing while standing on the side of the toilet. I wonder how larger people can manage. It was uncomfortable, to say the least.

Out of 10? 5. The food was good, some of it was great, some of it wasn’t so great. The service was so-so at best. I was expecting a lot more.

Next week: Jean-Georges


Edited by tetsujustin (log)

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Justin,

Really interesting thread.  I would fathom a guess that your "more than average" experienced palate has helped you in school? 

What are your plans after graduating?

Where else are you hoping to experience before your time expires?

ducphat

As for my "more than average" palate... moreso than my palate, its the experience of dining at these fine places that have helped me. The way things are cooked, the way they are presented, what to expect from dishes and service. Flavor combinations, flair, charisma in a dish. Plating, everything... it's just that I've learned so much just by eating at these place moreso than expanding my tastebuds. The factors of just information really have helped me in my learning and development as a student hoping to be a professional one day.

As for plans after graduating, if you want, I could PM you about that. I (and probably the hosts) would rather have this thread be about the restaurants than about me. All questions about my development or anything personally can be directed to me in PM, I'll be happy to answer.

As for where else I want to go? *sigh* everywhere. But really, I'm gonna aim for the four-stars to see if I can get that "out of this world, I'll never experience that ever again" experience. I just hope to cover a myriad of places.

Also, the fact that its cold makes me want to head over to the NYC ramen thread and see what I can hustle to this coming weekend for lunch. Who ever said this was all fine-dining? haha.

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How on earth did you get reservations the day before?

I'm glad you're feeling better and I enjoyed reading a report from you once again. I have yet to visit Babbo, but did have an excellent lunch at Lupa (another of the Batali restaurants) in late December 2004. I notice that you didn't like the farro (farroto). That's clearly an ingredient Chef Batali likes. I understand that it's an ancient ingredient that was used in ancient Roman cooking, and one of the dishes my brother and I shared at that lunch at Lupa was "a wonderful dish of acorn (I believe) squash puree with pecorino romano and farro that was a revelation to me."


Michael aka "Pan

 

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and has also secured an Iron Chef position, which I am an avid fan of and hold to this day that I will one day be.

Ok, now i get it...thus your nom de plume - Tetsujustin (Tetsujin??? - Iron chef!!)

Again, thanks for the great report, I, too, just can't get over the fact that you got a reservation the day before. As a matter of fact I called Babbo yesterday to try to secure a reservation for in two weeks (my first time there). Before I could even finish my sentence, the lovely lady I was speaking to told me that they were "fully committed for the evening". After reading your report, I decided I shall persevere.. :smile:


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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I notice that you didn't like the farro (farroto). That's clearly an ingredient Chef Batali likes. I understand that it's an ancient ingredient that was used in ancient Roman cooking, and one of the dishes my brother and I shared at that lunch at Lupa was "a wonderful dish of acorn (I believe) squash puree with pecorino romano and farro that was a revelation to me."

Farro is a relative of wheat and tastes pretty good to me. It's usually processed to some extent, to make it semi-pearled. It's a hot current fad. Some people who can't eat wheat because of allegeries can eat farro. Farro is supposed to be ancient, and an ancester of modern wheat. There is some arguement about that; if you Google "Farro" all sorts of contradictory material comes up. Some people say farro and spelt are the same thing, some people disagree. Part of the problem is that "farro" just means "wheat" in Latin, it doesn't identify a particular type, so saying the Romans ate "farro" is meaningless. "Flour" comes from the same root as "farro." If you cooked semi-pearled ordinary wheat berries, I think you'd get something similar to farro. Most small whole grains when cooked and when you add extra ingredents taste fairly similar. Cooked semi-pearled barley for example isn't all that different in my opinion from farro (I've made both). Both chewy and a little nutty. Farro is hard to grow, which is why is was replaced by modern wheat a very long time ago (not a modern change related to mechanical farming).

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How on earth did you get reservations the day before?

I'm glad you're feeling better and I enjoyed reading a report from you once again. I have yet to visit Babbo, but did have an excellent lunch at Lupa (another of the Batali restaurants) in late December 2004. I notice that you didn't like the farro (farroto). That's clearly an ingredient Chef Batali likes. I understand that it's an ancient ingredient that was used in ancient Roman cooking, and one of the dishes my brother and I shared at that lunch at Lupa was "a wonderful dish of acorn (I believe) squash puree with pecorino romano and farro that was a revelation to me."

how weird, I was thinking farroto was farro, because I have had farro before and the beet farroto did have the same chewy quality as the farro that I've had before (I didn't like that too awfully much either) but the pearlage of the farro that I've had before was much smaller. Maybe I didn't have farro and they called it that... or maybe there's just different kinds. I have no idea. I may go look into this.

As for my reservation... usually if you call a day in advance or the day of, there is usually a couple of cancellations in case you have a party of two or something, maybe a four-top might work too.

Now... I wonder if that will work on Per Se... haha.


Edited by tetsujustin (log)

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Let me start by saying this thread grew so quickly that I kept putting off getting into it, but always with the sense I'd read it before it was over. The concept is too intriguing to let the thread pass. It can be fascinating to read the take on a number of restaurants by a particular individual, especially if that individual has something to say and perhaps more so if there's an original or singular perspective. Justin combines a naiveté and enthusiasm that are both appropriate for his age, but he adds a certain intensity and professionalism, even if it's that of a student in the profession. The posts are often rough, but they make for interesting reading. I'd say that they may offer as much insight about Justin than about the restaurant in question, but I've said that about professional restaurant reviews before.

Dosconz, Soba was right when he said that the four-star restaurants should be rated on their own scale. It's just hard to fit things in there. My thinking was, I didn't hate WD-50, but I didn't think it was absolutely wonderful, so it got a 5. I loved Gramercy, but it wasn't on-the-dot-everything-was-perfect, so I gave it an 8 I really enjoyed the food and my night at Le Bernardin, but money aside, I enjoyed my night at Gramercy better so I gave it a 7. I gave Craft a 6 because it was better than average but I had a better time at Le Bernardin. I would hate to be a four-star-system reviewer... you have so little room for judgement, but you know, there's debate about ADNY/Per Se 4-star and Le B/Daniel/Jean-G's 4-star too. Some could argue that the earlier two should get a 5th star... but then where would Masa be? Haha. (sorry, that's another thread.) It's hard to justify rating sometimes, but you know what? If I feel that a place gave me better service than I was expecting, and out of this world food in a great setting and I had a wonderful, spectacular night, I just might give it a 10. And it won't even have to be one of the four-star restaurants. .

One of the striking things about these reviews and ratings is just how personal they are. I think it would be easy to dismiss some of this with a "who the hell does he think he is?" attitude, but it would be to miss the point. In fact, I think Justin has himself pretty well pegged and doesn't pretend to have more experience and knowledge than he really has. I think he understands he knows more about food and has a more intense interest than many of his fellow classmates, but that he hasn't got the experience that would enable him to offer objective ratings, so we get very subjective ones with no apology needed. I'd have preferred if he had listed the restaurants in order of his personal preference, with maybe a single sentence summing up why a restaurant took it's place on the list. The award of a number suggests an objectivity that his text does not. I'm not a fan of numerical ratings anyway.

Ratings are so subjective. The only way I know to reduce the subjectivity, short of having a truly objective professional with no personal taste, is to have them done by a panel. In that case the truly creative chef will often suffer simply because he's too creative to be appreciated by a broad range of people, at least early in his career. My own subjective take on the idea that Per Se has set a new standard of cooking that demands a fifth star is that I don't agree. Meals at this caliber are generally seasonal experiences for us at best, and perhaps biennial when we're not traveling, but we've managed to have two of them within less than three weeks recently. One was an eight course tasting menu at Daniel for dinner and the other was the nine course lunch at Per Se. What Per Se and ADNY have brought to the table, so to speak, is the idea that it's acceptable to have a minimum prix fixe well above $150 and that makes having the $168 tasting menu at Daniel seem less indulgent by comparison and it's quite in the same league of dining experiences as the tasting menu at Per Se. All things are relative. Neither of these restaurants are part of this thread, so I'll move on, having spoken about ratings.

I haven't been taking tetsujustin's numerical ratings all that seriously. It seems to me that, just as in the New York Times, the ratings of two different restaurants aren't always directly comparable. When he gives Craft a 6, he's rating it against his expectations for that restaurant, rather than on an absolute scale.

This is something I don't quite understand and has bothered me about Bruni's work in the Times. Ratings are an attempt to communicate and are only meaningful when there's an absolute scale applicable to the group. Justin's absolute scale seems to be his personal interest in returning to any particular place. It's not uninteresting thing to know, but it shouldn't have much effect on anyone else.

As for plans after graduating, if you want, I could PM you about that. I (and probably the hosts) would rather have this thread be about the restaurants than about me.

For the most part, I think you're absolutely correct, but when there's a topic of interest stongly related to the discussion of food and where the abstracts are are of interest to others who share an interest in some aspect of food, there's a place for it on the site, if not in this thread.


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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Just wanted to point out that tetsujustin's work got a shoutout on the "curbed" blog today

http://www.curbed.com/

"The writing is rough, and the ratings are haphazard (3/10 for Bouley; 8/10 for Gramercy), but "tetsujustin" knows his foie gras"

-MJR


�As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.� - Ernest Hemingway, in �A Moveable Feast�

Brooklyn, NY, USA

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Very interesting re Babbo.

For future reference, here are a few threads that relate to Babbo:

Babbo (Frank Bruni's re-review)

Babbo (pre-Bruni)

Personally, I'm not a fan of the secondi.  Their apps and pastas rate far superior in my view.  Try the pasta tasting menu next time and see what you think.  :wink:

Soba

I agree with you - and Tetsujustin's review here (and I've written previously to that effect). Even if the pasta is fabulous - and one could (and perhaps should) make a meal of it - so what? That makes Babbo a great pasta joint - not a great Italian restaurant (the latter being a place where the secondi are one of the main attractions - not something to be avoided by those in the know). I wonder what people would say about Babbo if one were dealing with a chef of lesser reputation - in a smaller city? Possibly something like excellent pasta (first courses) - inconsistent main courses - one star? On my part - I think the 5 out of a possible 10 for food is about right on the mark. Robyn

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I wonder what people would say about Babbo if one were dealing with a chef of lesser reputation - in a smaller city?

I thought it was Babbo's success that launched Mario Battali's reputation, not the other way around.

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The Food Network and his original restaurant PO launched his fame. I always thought Po was a batter meal than Babbo.

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justin,

i think your reviews make for exceptional reading, and i really appreciate your ratings. maybe it's my distance from the NY dining scene, but i find it refreshing that your scale is based upon your experience and expectations, rather than held to a standard created by someone else. for whatever it may be worth, your reviews have put le bernardin on the top of my NY wishlist. i find your style unpretentious and clear - i know exactly where you stand and why, and i know what you're looking for at each restaurant. thank you and best of luck!


from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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I wonder what people would say about Babbo if one were dealing with a chef of lesser reputation - in a smaller city?

I thought it was Babbo's success that launched Mario Battali's reputation, not the other way around.

I don't know about that. I don't know when he first established himself on TV, but I thought it was back when Po was his only restaurant. It seems he had a pretty good reputation going with just that one little restaurant.


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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:raz: I have read the reviews, looked at the pictures and concentrated on the musings. First off, your parents are fabulous, helping you on this mission. Your tastes in restaurants has slowed, from tasting menus at the uber houses, to stopping in for some sushi, albeit Jewel Bako Sushi. Get back to the top shelf, hit up the parents for bigger bucks. You write well, I look forward to the next restaurant, and I love the pics. Even the blurry ones. Some suggestions to try, The Modern at MOMA, Bruno Jamais, or sneak into Per Se.. All the best and call when you get your first chefs job..
Edited by AK@Spicehouse (log)

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What a great thread - it's giving me some ideas of what to try (or skip) on my next trip back to NYC.

First, I'm curious about your process - do you bring a camera with you? take notes on each course? Have you had problems taking pics of the food?

Second, I have to agree on the GT rating. I think your 8/10 reflects how well it meets or exceeds expectations. In my opinion, it's what American 4 star restaurant should be like. We're all in agreement that rating goes beyond the food. GT provides warm, inviting, friendly service. US has a more casual cutlure than Europe, and GT service reflects that. Rather than striving for an external ideal of 4* dining experience, we should be defining our own standard that's reflects life in the US.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your reviews.

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I wonder what people would say about Babbo if one were dealing with a chef of lesser reputation - in a smaller city?

I thought it was Babbo's success that launched Mario Battali's reputation, not the other way around.

I eat around :smile: . And I'm not sure fame as a chef in the US has all that much to do with great or even good food. Would be hard for me to say it's the best meal - but certainly one of the three best meals I've had in the last couple of years was at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead (Atlanta). The chef is well regarded in professional circles - but certainly not famous - or anywhere near famous.

I tend to think that fame among certain chefs in the US is in large part the result of successful self-promotion (I'm a lawyer and the same thing obtains with lawyers - the most famous ones aren't usually the best - or anywhere near the best). Robyn

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