>> Monday, March 23, 2009

So I did it. I went to Babbo. Straight up, there is absolutely nothing frugal about anything I am about to write. It wasn't the most expensive meal I have ever eaten, but trust me it was up there. In order for me to properly communicate the essence of this meal I think I should start from the beginning.

On February 9, 2009 at 10 am, I began to call Babbo to make a reservation for March 9, 2009. That's right, a full month before the actually dining date. This meal was to be for the winner of the Top Chef challenge, the game that Jef and I play each season of Top Chef. We each pick four chefs and whoever wins gets to pick the place where the loser has to take them to dinner. We both agreed that Babbo was our restaurant of choice and since it was such a nice place we would split the bill no matter who the winner was (eh hem, ME.) So I psycho-dialed for 30 minutes till I finally spoke with someone and locked down the reservation.

Fast forward to March 9th. The day was finally here, everything in a month basically revolved around this reservation. I can remember on March 1st literally thinking "there's only 9 days left till Babbo..." So yeah, I guess you could say I was excited.

Our reservation was at 8:30 and since it's in the neighborhood Jef and I decided to walk there. So we set out all dolled up and arrived at about 8:25. We checked in and they told us there's a little wait for our table. FINE. We were there 5 minutes early, so I was ok with this. Slowly time starts to tick by and before I know it, its 8:45. Now normally this wouldn't have been that big of deal, but considering the hoops that I had to jump to make this reservation, you would think that they would be on time...but whatever, we were at BABBO.

Finally we are seated, and to be honest Jef and I didn't really even look at the menu, we knew what we wanted (mostly because we had been studying it...for a month) -- the tasting menu. Listen, if we were going to to go to Babbo, we were going to go all out. We ordered some wine and anxiously awaited for the first course to arrive. They give you a cute little card with all the courses on it so you don't get lost and know what's coming up. Below is what we dined on that night:

  1. Culatello with Ramps and Pecorino

  2. Pappardelle with Hedgehogs and Thyme

  3. Duck Tortelli with "Sugo Finto"

  4. Grilled Guinea Hen with Pumpkin Fregula and Black Truffle Vinaigrette

  5. Coach Farm's Finest with Fennel Honey

  6. "Crema con Mosto"

  7. Chocolate "Tartufino"

  8. Almond Torta with Brown Butter Gelato

  9. Ricotta Cheesecake with strawberries, sweet cream and aceot mandori

Since reading this basically requires a dictionary I've hyperlinked most of the words that I didn't know, so if you have questions feel free to click on the links above and I'll do my best to explain below. Luckily the tasting menu online was pretty close to what we had that night so I knew what comprised most courses, but I definitely had to look about 25% of what we ate.

The only way I think that can truly take you through the experience is going course by course.

Course 1: Ah, course one. What a wonderful way to start the night off; Culatello with Ramps and Pecorino. The culatello (which is similar to prochuttio) was so tender and buttery it literally just melted in your mouth. It was presented as one large slice which encompassed the entire plate and was paper thin. Topped with pickled ramps (which are, to my understanding, onions) and pecorino cheese, it was utter perfection. Some bites had a little kick to them, which I really enjoyed. Jef said when he is rich he is going to order three orders of it because it was so good.

Course 2: Pappardelle with Hedgehogs and Thyme. Being half Italian I do love my pasta and thought this was an overall nice course. The mushrooms were meaty and the pasta was fresh. In my humble opinion the thyme was just a touch strong and in the scheme of the overall meal this was one of my least favorite courses. Again, nice, but I wouldn't order it.

Course 3: Duck Tortelli with "Sugo Finto." Even now as I sit here and write this all I can remember is feeling really, really heavy after I ate this. Which I have no idea if that was the intention, to the put the heaviest course early on, but I seriously finished eating it (I mean obviously I was going to clean my plate, duh!) and thought, ut oh, I might not be able to finish. Don't get me wrong I am sure that the course was cooked to perfection, but it was a bit lost of me since I was fighting the feeling of being too full.

Course 4: Grilled Guinea Hen with Pumpkin Fregula and Black Truffle Vinaigrette. "You go and do something like this…and totally redeem yourself!" I think that is really the only way to truly express this course. Redemption. Redemption for making me feel so full that I couldn't go on. But I infact did go on. I went on to savor the most delectable of all the courses we ate: the Guinea Hen. I knew enough about a Guinea Hen to know that it was a game bird, what I didn't know was how unbelievably awesome it was. Grilled to perfection, there was the perfect blend of fat and tender, succulent meat, that which ever fork full reminded me of why I am here. The pumpkin fregula and black truffle vinaigrette complimented the bird perfectly. My mouth is watering just thinking about this course. I would happily sell my first child to have that again, which probably isn't necessary since it's on the menu, but still if they ever take it off, bye, bye baby.

Course 5: Coach Farm's Finest with Fennel Honey. So when I was trying to figured this out online I could not for the life of me figure it out. Then once we got to dinner the light bulb clicked on and I realized this must be the cheese course! I love cheese, I love cheese like it's nobody's business. So this was a great course for me. A little slice of goat cheese and brie served with crunchy bread. Drizzle on a little honey, bam, delicious-ness. Definitely something that I am going to try at home!

Course 6: "Crema con Mosto." Ok, I still don't know what this exactly is, all I know is that had there not been other people around I would have gladly licked the little bowl that this cream from heaven arrived in. I swear, it was the creamiest thing I have ever eaten. So light for being cream and whatever "Mosto" is, is absolutely delicious. I want to say it's somehow related to chocolate, but I don't know. All I know is that my spoon was constantly hitting the side of the bowl as I tried to scrape for more.

Course 7: Chocolate "Tartufino." This course was good, I am not a huge chocolate person so it was kind of lost on me, but it was some delicious chocolate with a cherry inside. Surprise!

Course 8 and 9: Almond Torta with Brown Butter Gelato and Ricotta Cheesecake with strawberries, sweet cream and aceot mandori. Because apparently Jef and I look like the people who like to eat, we were brought two separate desserts and thankfully our server did. The dessert we were originally suppose to both get was the Almond Torta which was a cake made with olive oil. This was a fail in my book. The cake was a little dry for me and the brown butter sage sauce reminded me too much of the raviolis that made for valentines day. The cheesecake on the other hand, I could have eaten for days. There was a gram cracker-like crust on the top, and it gave the creamy text of the actual cake a really nice crunch. Honestly, one of the best cheesecakes I have ever had. The perfect way to end the night (especially since the server put that dessert in front of me.)

I will say a couple of things took me by surprise though, #1 was how unconcerned the host seemed to be about us not having our table on time, I don't know why but that really irked me #2 Out of all nine course, I really feel like the Guinea Hen course was the only one really well explained. I mean, I would have liked to known a little more about what I was putting in my mouth, especially after how much money I was paying!

With that said, this was truly a night to remember, we saw some celebrities (most notable Jorma from Lonely Island and SNL skits) and dined like them too. My applogies for the lack of photos, I felt a little weird snapping pictures of the food since it was so nice, but I got the best courses before I even knew they were the best! Ha!

Would I go back to Babbo? Absolutely. Do the tasting menu again? Sure, so long as I am not paying :)

110 Waverly Pl
New York, NY 10011

(212) 614-6670


Ilovetoeat March 27, 2009 at 12:46 PM  

wow that was a heck of a review!!! yum!!


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