After much delay due to odd circumstances and events in my life, I finally made it to Babbo! After hauling my butt from Tailor (as you read from the previous post) with Helen in tow, I’ve rushed over to Giulia and Robyn finding out the status of our endangered table. What happened during the time I was finishing up the pre-dinner at Tailor, Giulia called and left me with an urgent voicemail indicating that the maître d’ will let our table go since the full group didn’t show at the reserved time. When I spoke to her, she said I have to deal with the stubborn man and demands me to get the table stat, since she’s starving.
Finding out that our table is still safe, we’ve checked our coats and got escorted upstairs to the second floor away from the loud, harried diners of the ground floor.
Despite the fact that the second floor is relatively quieter, it’s still frazzled with a ton of lively conversation with groups of diners who are generally of an older age than all of us. Nevertheless, we’re here for the highly touted food and good company.
While we were deciding what we want to eat, a server brought us some unremarkable bread, and a complimentary amuse, the chickpea bruschetta. These two-bite toasts were delicious – nutty and slightly tangy with the spices they were marinated in. After noshing our bruschetta we discussed at great length what the heck we all want to eat, decided, and ordered.
Now here’s our antipasti, also known as appetizers:
Helen ordered the grilled octopus with “borlotti marinati” and spicy limoncello vinaigrette. I had grilled octopus before but I never had one quite like this. It was so tender and it doesn’t even taste like seafood – more meat-like (chicken?) than anything else. The borlotti beans were creamy and acidic. This was delicious.
Giulia had the wild arugula with Parmesan salad because she’s following her Roman Catholic heritage of not eating meat on Fridays, which we all respected despite of our grumbles. It’s a hefty portion of spicy, mustardy greens with a balsamic vinaigrette topped with large ribbons of Parmesan cheese. It’s good but it’s just a basic salad.
Robyn ordered the lamb’s tongue vinaigrette under one of the many dishes I’ve mentioned that I heard or read that is tasty. I honestly never had tongue before since well, it sounds a bit…weird. Anyway, this was delicious! The tongue was served warm and it’s so tender and silky from the poached egg Robyn mixed in. The vinaigrette cut through the gaminess of the tongue, and the chanterelles brought in a delicate, nutty, fruity flavor.
I got myself the pig’s foot “Milanese” mainly because I love pig’s feet. My mom made on several occasions in my life stewed pig’s feet and I loved it’s fatty, gelatinous texture with pork flavor. Same thing applies to this dish except it’s even better with the crisp, crunchy, deep-fried crust. Contrasting the heaviness of this dish was the tart, sun dried tomatoes, as well as the peppery arugula. The rice beans brought some substance and creaminess this dish. Gah, I love it…
Giulia had planned on getting the mint love letters for a while because of its uniqueness of having mint and pasta together. The pasta was cooked al dente. The shredded, mint filling was a refreshing breath to the pasta. I don’t exactly love this dish but it was different than any pasta dish I’ve encountered so far.
Robyn had the beef cheek ravioli. This was an ordinary sounding dish but it was outstanding. The perfectly cooked pasta filled with a smooth puree (practically) of beef that it feels like it’s melting in my mouth. The squab liver was used for the sauce, which added richness to this dish.
Knowing Helen is not exactly the most adventurous eater, we recommended something relatively familiar for her dish of choice: chianti stained pappardelle. The chianti in the pasta gave it an earthy, slightly fruity depth. The boar ragu added heartiness and pleasant acidity to the dish.
I gotten myself the lamb’s brain “francobolli” because of the fact I like eating weird things. Ok, maybe not Anthony Bourdain‘s daringness but I like to try something different. Going back to the food… These “postage stamps” of pasta were intensely buttery and creamy. The al dente pasta was filled with ricotta cheese and lamb’s brain – which I hoped to have more brain than cheese when I was eating them. It tasted mushroom-like with hints of sage and lemon from the sauce. It’s nice but I want more brain.
As we finished our pasta course, we felt quite full. I should be since I ate at Tailor an hour prior to this meal and Robyn was making “Ughghgh…” noises when the duck was placed before us to share. I have to say, the duck was really generously portioned. Four slices of duck breast meat and…
MORE! After each of us gotten our own slice of succulent duck meat, we unearthed the leg. OMG…we’re all getting to the point of getting a stomach explosion. But since we don’t like to waste food, Robyn got most of the duck and tossing about a fourth of the leg meat to my plate against my will to eat it. It’s a very tasty duck – savory, sweet and acidic from the kumquat and wilted red cabbage, but I was heading toward a food coma.
After having a few minutes to breathe and digest our food, we asked for the check since it’s already 10 PM and we’ll be kicked out off our table soon. So we could not have any dessert. But, the waitress presented us a plate of cookies: almond biscotti, chocolate baci cookies, and almond meringue cookies, along with our check. My favorite was the biscotti for its intense crispness and buttery, almond flavor. The baci was nice and chocolatey with a hint of almond. The meringue was nice but I was never a fan of meringue.
That’s the end of my evening of back-to-back high-end dining.
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