Sunday, June 17, 2007

Babbo

Mabel and I decided to go to Babbo tonight for our second wedding anniversary. I made the reservation the day of, and we got an early seating which I prefer (although we didn't have much choice anyway).

Unfortunately, we couldn't catch a cab to get there. Where's everyone going at 5pm on a Sunday anyway? We took a bus downtown, walked across several avenues in the humid 90 degree weather, and arrived sweaty and late.

When we arrived, they guided us to the upstairs dining room where we started to cool off with a bottle of sparkling water and a quartino of Savignon Blanc (Ronco delle Betulle 2005).

I'm really glad they put us upstairs. I think this was our fifth time at the restaurant and the third time we were able to sit upstairs. In my mind Babbo is three different restaurants. There's the bar area that only takes walk-ins, the downstairs dining room on the same floor as the bar, and the upstairs dining room.

The bar area is crowded and tends to have mediocre service. I used to think that as long as the food was the same it shouldn't matter. But it affects your perception of the food, and the stress of the waiters and people pushing in through the door can't be great for the digestion. I think that at most the thing to do here is get a bowl of pasta and make a quick getaway.

We've never been seated on the ground floor dining room, and I'm glad. It's a bit dark, and loud, and there are banquettes which I don't really like.

The upstairs dining room, however, is like heaven. It is light and airy. There's a large skylight. It's quieter, but there is still a nice energy to the room with the same eclectic soundtrack and lively conversation as the rest of the restaurant. And the service is more coordinated and seamless.

To start, Mabel wanted a leafy salad but was warned that her choice of Vegetables with Coach Farm Goat Cheese was actually a bunch of grilled vegetables. So she changed her order to Warm Lamb’s Tongue Vinaigrette with Morels and a 3-Minute Egg.

We've had that dish before, but she got it mostly because she wanted to see how properly prepared morels tasted. They taste very good. Not like the ones we tried to make at home a few weeks ago.

I ordered Asparagus “Milanese” with Duck Egg and Parmigiano which was fat asparagus with an egg on top. Tasty.

For the primi, we split a serving of Goose Liver Ravioli with Balsamic Vinegar and Brown Butter. Mabel was initially apprehensive, but it turned out to be the best pasta dish we've ever had there, and we've had all the commonly known ones. It had the sweet and savory thing going for it. We ordered a second quartino of wine to go with it (Trimpilin 2004). It had a nice subtle anise flavor.

For the secondi, Mabel got Rabbit with Peas, Pancetta and Carrot Vinaigrette. Neither of us have had rabbit before. It was good. It tasted like chicken which is not a bad thing, I think. It also had these cool little fat, squat carrots that we hadn't seen before. The pancetta pieces were awesome.

I got Grouper with Charred Leeks, Warm Treviso and Pancetta Vinaigrette as my secondi. Really good. The fish was perfect. The way the whole thing was put together the fish could have been a piece of steak or fatty pork (a good thing). What I mean is that it had the satisfaction of a great steak or braised pork, but it still tasted like fish. The large pancetta chunks only made things better. I love bacon.

We finished things off by sharing an especially jiggly panna cotta that came with an unexpected side of peach sorbetto, and we washed it down with a light and bubbly Moscato d'Asti.

Babbo
110 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10011
212-777-0303

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