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Trip report - Momofuku Ko, Batard, Manzo, tacos!

Not Drew Nierpont (sp?) - but another guy who was listed on the web site as either a partner or managing director or something. Very tall, youngish but with white/grey hair. I have a lot of appreciation for a restaurant where the top brass is hands on, fwiw.

May 04, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Trip report - Momofuku Ko, Batard, Manzo, tacos!

We just got back from a scrumptious New York trip. Spectacular dinner - top three meals ever - at Momofuku. Everything here is spot-on, from flavor to décor to service to tableware to location. We did the wine pairings and I can't imagine not doing it. The combination of the uni and the sake was magical. The razor clam with pineapple and basil was magical. One of my favorites was the majorly simple mackerel dashi with mushroom and pear, made from the drain-off from cooking a previous mackerel course. The orecchiette with octopus was tantalizing, with a texture to the pasta I'd die to replicate. Without a doubt the most magnificent course was the duck - I have no idea how they got the skin so crispy and the meat so tender. We watched them grilling the breasts in the central open kitchen and I still don't know how they did it. The shaved foie gras converted my husband into a foie-gras lover (or at least liker). I just can't say enough about the meal and the evening. The wine pairing is honestly a bargain given the quality of the wines we were tasting. Beautiful experience.

We had lunch at Gramercy Tavern and were saddened that the off-menu burger was not available (the buns had not turned out well in that morning's baking, we were told). Husband loved the carrot soup and lamb sandwich special. I enjoyed the bouillabase like soup of calamari and mussels in lobster broth, with toasted bread spread with garlic aoli. We both agree we'd put this high on the list for a prix-fixe dinner on a future trip.

Dinner was Batard. We were shown to a small banquette where we could sit cozily side by side instead of opposite each other, quite private from the other diners. The seating may have been the highlight of the evening. I had the sweetbreads, which I liked, with a sweet lemon sauce, and my husband had the famous pastrami octopus. I took a bite and the smoke was completely overpowering, from first taste to the last swallow. Husband got the green pea tortellini - all 5 of them! Nice but nothing special. I ordered the duck, intrigued by the description of marzipan as one of the ingredients in addition to cherry. It was nicely cooked and rosy, but I was shocked to bite into one cherry - just one - and find it filled with marzipan. It was sweeter than dessert, and just so uneven. Maybe it wasn't fair to put this duck in a head to head with last night's duck at Momofuku, but it was no contest. My husband took the upcharge for the veal and we when we looked at the plate we both said, Culinary school 101! It was veal wrapped in pastry with a little spinach or bok choy. The pastry only played up the blandness of the veal. The sauce didn't do much to wake it up, either. We also waited a good 25 minutes for the main course. We weren't inspired to try dessert. The décor is very plain and the volume is very LOUD. We saw one of the owners moving chairs and seating people, and he was grimly involved in all those procedures. He somberly bid us good night, and I looked at my husband and said, You know what? None of that was *fun*. That kind of summed it up for us.

On Saturday we were delighted to attend the Thrillist Taco Knockout. Y'all, this was SO much fun. A whole bunch of taco places competed to be top taco and we got uunlimited tastings. It was on the beautifully decorated patio of the Hudson hotel with unlimited beer, guac and other yummies. I can't find a list of all the taco providers but I will post later when I find it.

That night, we were a bit stuffed from the tacos so we opted for lighter options at Manzo. The beef tartare was quite good, elevated by a black truffle sauce. The octopus with salsa verde was also very good - I said, They must be very confident to serve the octopus with just a butter knife, and the confidence was well-founded. Very nicely cooked and lovely roasted peppers along with the flavorful sauce. I was let down by the pastas, which I had heard were on a par with Babbo: they were not. My agnolotti were served with a veal reduction that was one note, but I was more let down by the very al dente texture. I get that some people like that, but to me the dish lacked all the lushness and lusciousness of Babbo's pasta. Same with my husband's pappardelle with goat shoulder - very al dente, one note sauce. We skipped dessert (very basic choices) so that we could get some choices from Eataly's pastry bar and we were not disappointed (an ethereal confection of almond cream with an oozing bittersweet chocolate center). It was a good to very good meal.

May 03, 2015
edub in Manhattan
3

Babbo or like Babbo

So I'll also say one more thing and then stop, since I didn't ask for these opinions, but respect the information and point of view you're giving me. OpenTable does in fact let you make two reservations for the same night on one account. They have to have a certain window between them - 2.5 hours or maybe 3 hours. We have often - and maybe will this evening - used that method to do a progressive dinner, where we eat one course at one restaurant, another course at another, and so on. I think I simply have a different perspective than you. I'm a consumer, and a restaurant is a provider. They can restrict their product in any way they see fit. Hey, one of these restaurants can see my posting about multiple reservations and go ahead and cancel my reservations, since I'm a risk. Or they can ban me from Open Table. Whatever; my point is that if this behavior is truly odious to them and unacceptable from a business standpoint, they have options. I also think Babbo would survive losing my business at 11pm if they instead received it at 7pm. That leaves only one restaurant that might receive a last minute cancellation.

I'll let you all know if I'm summarily banned from the Batali empire, Italian restaurants in general and/or from OpenTable in perpetuity!

Apr 28, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

Right, but what I'm saying is, all restaurants have the option to require a credit card and a certain window for cancellations. If they don't choose to practice it, then they must have a reason - they think they can fill it anyways, or they're willing to take the risk in order to attract more potential diners through reservations. In many cases, I'm sure they overbook their reservations - all the times I've waited oodles of time for a table I'd reserved, for instance, would point to that fact. But if it's a problem by all means they should require the credit card number - it's their choice to set their own standards. Free markets and all that. Thanks for your thoughts!

Apr 28, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

I guess I disagree with you, sgordon. We are still deciding at this point about whether to go to Lincoln or stay downtown. We'll cancel that one before long if we go with downtown. There are still reservations open for 11pm at Babbo and 8:45pm at Manzo. If we cancel both our reservations at 7:30pm when we get seated at Babbo, then other drop-ins at those restaurants will benefit. Who is to say that other people aren't also holding reservations right now at Babbo and Maialino that they don't intend to keep? If I could get an earlier reservation at Babbo right now, I'd cancel my other reservations. If restaurants and OpenTable really frowned upon the practice, wouldn't they require that you cancel the reservation within a set time frame? And some reservations do require a credit card and as a no-show you would be charged.

Just my 2 cents. Thanks for your opinions!

Apr 28, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

I wanted to thank everybody for their contributions to this lively discussion (and please, keep them coming!)

For those of you who are interested here's the current plan of action:
- stop by Babbo early-ish (7 or 7:30p) to see if we can get one of those famous drop-in tables ("1 in 4 diners is a drop-in!")
- stroll up to Maialino and see if they have a bar seat
- if that fails, we have a 8:45p at Manzo
- if ALL that fails - meaning, we are going to the taco throwdown starting at 2pm and could potentially eat and drink ourselves silly and take a long late afternoon nap - we might actually cash in on our 11pm reservations!

We do also have an 8p at Lincoln that we're considering ... we just love the atmosphere of downtown so we might prefer to dine there so we can also wander after. But it sounds like we can't really fail at great Italian with a heavy fresh pasta accent if we dine at one of these four places! Thanks, Chowhound - you're the best!

Apr 28, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

OMG WHERE can you get a sandwich tasting menu?! I want to go to there!!!

Apr 28, 2015
edub in Manhattan

gramercy tavern - tavern wait?

Yum... I'm completely torn between the duck confit and the burger. Has anyone had the calamari in lobster broth? How about the sunchoke salad app?

Apr 28, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

Thanks sgordon! I have an 11pm reservation on Friday night, but that's a little late for us (considering that we're normally in bed at 9:30pm!) We're going to hang on to it while we look at other options (like Lincoln and Manzo).

Apr 27, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

Ooooh, and they have a pasta tasting menu. I want to go to there.

Apr 27, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

Thoughts on Perla? I know the chef just left.

Apr 26, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

Thanks so much - yes it's soon, next weekend. Managed to get a prime time Batard reservation for Friday just last night so I'm being optimistic! Thanks for the rec on Lincoln, going to look into it. Loved Marea but we've done that; I just didn't love all the courses and the atmosphere as much as Babbo.

Apr 26, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

Maialino looks great although no reservations available during our time window. But looks like full dinner menu at the bar. We have a Osteria Morini here in DC so would probably not go there first. I've never had Venetian so All'onda looks tempting - do you like their pastas?

Apr 26, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

What do people think about Aurora? I've done some research on the board and it seems to get love. We want to stay downtown, and we want delicious fresh pasta above meats etc. Thanks again!

Apr 26, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

Thanks, we've actually been to Marea, delicious but not the full package the way Babbo is. Kathryn, I looked at lunch, but we only have Saturday open, when we were hoping to go to Smorgasburg ...

Apr 25, 2015
edub in Manhattan

gramercy tavern - tavern wait?

Thanks! What did you get?

Apr 25, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Babbo or like Babbo

I have a love affair with Babbo and through a mishap missed the reservation window for our upcoming New York trip. I was trying to substitute another Italian, but honestly, what I've read about most places (Locanda Verde, for instance) leaves me cold. Any suggestions for other places? Any tips/tricks to getting in? We may head over and try the bar but my better half is not a great wait-er. Thanks!

Apr 25, 2015
edub in Manhattan

gramercy tavern - tavern wait?

How about for a Friday lunch? Want to try their off-menu burger.

Apr 25, 2015
edub in Manhattan

Isla Mujeres Eats

Any updates for 2015? Im interested in the new Mayan place - also, whether limon is worth the special trip. Is it too nice for kids? I'm intringued by the idea of hibiscus tacos.

Mar 21, 2015
edub in Mexico

27

Looks amazing - do you know if they take reservations? And are the cocktails on a par with what you get from Broken Shaker?

Jan 24, 2015
edub in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Surprised No Mention of Siena Tavern--SoFi SoBe

They have an interesting-looking happy hour 6-8 daily and I'm thinking of checking it out tomorrow night. It's down at 4th and Washington, so if the food disappoints there's always an octopus burrito at Mi Ceviche as consolation.

Jan 24, 2015
edub in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Friendship Heights Whole Foods in slight decline?

Funny you should post this - I was pondering whether or not to contact management about my experience there today. I had two items to buy and the only checkout option a huge line of at least 15 minutes. It made no sense to wait that long for two items I didn't need that desperately and I left.

veal spare ribs

Anyone know where I could get these in the DMV?

Ramen - pork substitute

Mr. Dub and I do Sat night "date night in" cooking projects, and we've been wanting to do tis one since last year! He loves pork and we don't keep it in our house (we're lightly kosher), so it's fun to make these kind of things, trying to be as close to authentic as possible.

Jan 03, 2015
edub in Home Cooking

Ramen - pork substitute

I like this idea. If I can find them, what about veal ribs for spare ribs? I agree w a pp about not going the beef/lamb route, but veal seems to have an "other" quality that would make the broth special if not perfectly authentic.

Jan 03, 2015
edub in Home Cooking

Ramen - pork substitute

I'm planning to make the ramen recipe from Bon Appetit sept 2013 and I don't eat pork. I'm fine with the chicken necks/wings and will use veal shoulder for pork shoulder. I'm stuck on the spareribs though. I don't think beef short ribs would substitute well because the meat is so rich and dark - though I imagine the gelatin from the bones gives the broth an important quality. Can anyone suggest a substitution?

Jan 03, 2015
edub in Home Cooking

Single diner in Miami

I've been a solo diner several times in Miami and loved it. It seems Macchialina has scaled back their happy hour and only does it now on Wednesday nights, which is a shame, because I started my last solo trip with a lovely prosecco and an out of this world swordfish dip (which doesn't seem to be on the menu anymore!)

I also ate at the bar at Pubbelly Steak, which I think is moving or moved; did the full tasting at Pubbelly up at the bar; and the bar at Yardbird. I adored Pubbelly steak and thought pub belly was a little overrated. You can feel very comfortable there with a bourbon drink and a book; the bartender chatted with me a little but sensed when I was ready to be alone and read. I had something fried chicken that was fantastic - chicken and biscuit, I think - it doesn't seem to be on the menu anymore but maybe there's a separate bar menu. I think they have a new chef/owner (was the blond guy from Top Chef a few seasons ago), not sure how much things have changed (I was there in 2013).

I'm curious to try Khong River (Pok Pok PDX is one of my fave restaurants in the world). I peeked in and looked like the bar would be a nice place to eat.

For ethnic, I've not had the nerve to go up to Little Haiti or Havana by myself, but I did eat at Tap Tap and it was tremendous. I had an excellent Haitian mojito and the fried platter with goat meat added and a side of coconut spinach. Everything was great; I loved the malanga fritters and the sauces for dipping, and liked the goat much more than I thought I would. It's a colorful little place with a small front porch, slow-on-purpose service, and a place where a solo diner would feel totally comfortable.

I'm conflating two trips into one now, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but last trip I went to Bazaar by myself at high pretty-people-time (10 or 11pm or so) and sat by myself with a wonderful cocktail and really enjoyed it, it's a nice poolside setting. I don't know if people were looking at me, but I was looking at them, so it's all good. I didn't eat there.

If you like seafood I wouldn't miss My Ceviche - I've eaten there multiple times and it's the bomb. Love anything octopus there (burrito is great), any ceviche, just haven't tried the stone crab. It's all takeout so you can go eat on the beach or in the park, or - bonus! - if you're in your room and just don't feel like another solo dinner, they deliver in the SoBe area. Did it twice and was very happy with the option.

Good luck and enjoy!

Nov 25, 2014
edub in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Trip Report: Kabuto, Bazaar Meats, Wicked Spoon

Thanks Uhockey - not sure where I got MoZu, maybe that's what the DC Mandarin restaurant is called (never been there).

I got the Five50 reference but I think restaurant names like that are too cute by half. I like the unnamed secret pizza place in Cosmo - in name and pizza. I'd like to go back there; I feel I should try it when not under the influence of a night's worth of cocktails to see if it's as good as I remember.

Nov 22, 2014
edub in Las Vegas

Trip Report: Kabuto, Bazaar Meats, Wicked Spoon

Does anyone remember that Julia Roberts movie where she played a food critic? She's taking a bite and the whole restaurant crew is watching her with bated breath. Then she says something like, "I'm writing it up as inventive and breathtaking." And they all audibly sigh with relief. I can only imagine that's what goes on when you're comped a $1000 meal as a high-profile restaurant critic.

As for overpriced, we could only make this comparison: we got a plate of seven or so slabs of fresh tuna, of medium thickness, for $40. Meanwhile, two nights earlier we had consumed incredibly fresh and delectable tuna and many other varieties of sashimi quality fish at Kabuto - an entire multi course meal of it for $80 a person. Bazaar is a lot of fun - but so is Jaleo, which is so delicious and so on-point price wise. Instead of enjoying the tapas experience, they've designed the tapas portion of the meal as a lead up to the heaven-sent meat course, and when that blindingly expensive meat doesn't live up, it's a let down. We skipped dessert so I can't say if that's a meaningful consolation prize.

Nov 22, 2014
edub in Las Vegas

Trip Report: Kabuto, Bazaar Meats, Wicked Spoon

Yes, please - correct away! It's a great place. It reminds me of a wonderful gem we have here in DC called Rodman's, if it had ten times more space to fill with international fare.

Interestingly, the only review I had really read about Bazaar was EatingLV and that was glowing. We had to look around and ask each other, is the meat really not *that* good?

Nov 20, 2014
edub in Las Vegas