Babbo (New York) – Best meal of 2010.

This post is long overdue. I’ve been thinking about this meal for a long time and I have been really wanting to put the photos up but work has kept me away from writing. I have lots of stuff from Seattle, from Vancouver, from Seoul, Korea that I’d love to write about but it would appear that I am eating faster than I can write. As such… I am picking some of the best meals I have had and working backwards.

I recently celebrated the 3rd anniversary of my engagement (shuddup) in New York with J. Our friends K and P from Toronto joined us. There was a conference that I went to but the real purpose of the trip was to eat, eat, and then… eat. The pinnacle of that trip was our dinner at Babbo, run by Mario Batali from Iron Chef.

I should mention how hard it was to get a reservation. We called 3 weeks in advance and the only time they had for us was at 1045pm. They only take reservations 1 month in advance so if you truly wanted to eat at a reasonable hour, you would have to call exactly 1 month in advance within 2 hours of opening. Was it worth it? Oh yes. Yes it was.

So we showed up promptly at 1045pm after starving ourselves for dinner only to find that Babbo was packed and that everything was behind schedule. The guy at the front didn’t seem too accommodating or too apologetic. He said that we were looking at a 30 minute wait. You can see from above that it was a bit of a zoo in the front area. With this many people at 1045pm all waiting to eat, we couldn’t leave. So we waited. Exactly like he said, we were seated at 1115pm. The poor couple you see on the bottom of the frame had their glasses of wine pushed over by brutes (like myself). What a horrible location for a table!

The atmosphere was amazing. Warm, almost like you were at a fancy relative’s house. The Christmas Tree was really a nice focus point in the room. We sat slightly behind it.

As we were deciding on what to order, they served us this nice curried chickpea dish to start. We were starving at this point so we scarfed it down. It was a nice savoury way to start the meal.

Because the wait was so long, they comped us this start dish. It was a duck crepe garnished with salad. Again, very light to make us eagerly anticipate the coming meal. We ended up making our own tasting menu where we ordered 2 pastas and 4 mains to share amongst the 4 of us.

This was the Grilled Octopus with “Borlotti Marinati” and Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette for $15USD. The waiter said that this was the one dish that everyone usually gets. The octopus was cooked nicely so that it was meaty without being rubbery. I liked the charcoaled bits especially.

This was the Warm Lamb’s Tongue Vinaigrette with Brown Beech Mushrooms and a 3 minute egg for $13USD. The egg was J’s favourite part as the yolk was warm, gooey and coated the lamb tongue, which was a unique flavour in and of itself. I found it gamey but not overly so. As I am not found of offal, I still found the texture off putting.

This is the Goose Liver Ravioli with Balsamic Vinegar and Brown Butter for $24USD. The noodle was just perfect and the vinegar and brown butter sauce rich without being heavy. The actual goose liver was again experimental for me. I don’t love the “irony”ness of liver but I must say that it was very smooth. J considers this dish very “umami” as it had fullness of flavour on the tongue. The goose liver was savoury, the cheese was sharp, the balsamic was sweet and acidic, and the butter was rich. It was a very complete dish.

This was my favourite, the Black Spaghetti with Rock Shrimp, Spicy Salami Calabrese and Green Chiles for $25USD. The calabrese and the green chiles had this really nice heat without being too intense. The shrimp was bouncy and delicious. Also… I love black spaghetti. I feel like I am eating alien food.

This is the Duck with Braised Puntarelle, Babbo Pancetta and Cherry Vinaigrette for $29USD. The duck breast had this nice layer of fat and crispy skin. But what blew me away was the duck leg sitting beneath this mountain of meat. You get so much duck in this dish! The dark meat fell off the bone and was so perfect. I was so full by the time we got to this dish but I couldn’t stop myself.

This is the Fennel Dusted Sweetbreads with Sweet and Sour Onions, Duck Bacon and Membrillo Vinaigrette for $27USD. This was quite a heavy dish. We started getting very tired so it became harder and harder to continue. It was 1245am at this point. The sweet breads were lightly crisp on the outside and wonderfully tender on the inside. I also enjoyed the fragrance the fennel brought to the dish.

Another unique experience. This was the Charred Beef Tongue with White Beans, Escarole, and Grain Mustard for $28USD. I’ve never had beef tongue in a non-Asian restaurant and I must say that I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It was flavourful and crispy on the edges but had this deliciously soft tenderness to it. Definitely softer than any other cut of beef I have ever had. It is hard to describe because beef tongue doesn’t have the stringiness of meat. The muscle particles are so fine that you can’t sense the grain of the meat.

To end the meal, they gave us some sugar cookies. All in all, the cost was $290 for 4 people without any liquor. For how full we were, the price was definitely worth it. The experience was also unique, especially given how diverse and varied the menu was. The service was great, attentive without being too clingy. I loved my meal at Babbo. I don’t care that I went home at 130am and fell asleep on the metro.

My advice: BOOK EXACTLY 1 MONTH IN ADVANCE!!!

Babbo, 110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY, (212) 777-0303, www.babbonyc.com

Babbo on Urbanspoon

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~ by Russ on March 12, 2011.

One Response to “Babbo (New York) – Best meal of 2010.”

  1. I enjoyed the story! Nice photos. We nearly entered the restaurant last year when we visited NY.

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