Note: If you want to jump to the review of my lunch at Del Posto Enoteca, click here
I’m summarizing my old stuff since it’s not really notable, per se. What I’m referring to were my visit to Macaron Cafe (which you can start viewing photos and my comments on them from here) and a lunch at Balthazar at their bar since there weren’t any tables available when I visited that afternoon (those food photos start here).
Just to sum it up, the macarons from Macaron Cafe were hit-or-miss but it’s really inexpensive. From what was available that morning: cranberry, chocolate, and key lime (which I bought one of each), the best of the three was the key lime but a far cry from Pierre Herme’s heavenly macarons. They’re the size of my palm (about 3 1/2 inches) for $2. It’s the cheapest in the city so far.
Lunch at Balthazar was and always packed from the multiple times visiting or passing through in SoHo. I had their duck confit and chocolate pot de Creme and a glass of vintage cider, Cidre Bouche Organic E. Dupont 2006.
The duck confit was good: thin, crisp skin meets soft, tender duck meat that melts in my mouth but my tiff was was supposed to be the “crisp potatoes” indicated on the menu. I was assuming wedges of potatoes sauteéd to a lovely golden brown but it turned out to be small potato chips. Go figure. The cider was nice, a touch of alcohol but it isn’t as boozy as any other wine or beer you’ll ever encounter. The chocolate pot de creme was creamy and chocolate-y rich. Think dense chocolate pudding served with coconut shortbread cookies on the side. Overall a decent lunch but for my money’s worth, I would go somewhere else.
Then yesterday morning, I went down to the West Village for the sake of making reservations in one of the hottest restaurants in town, Babbo. Robyn, K, and I flirted this idea multiple times of going there but we know it’s almost impossible to get a table without a reservation. I had a discussion recently with my friend Giulia. Giulia loves and craves the fabulous food she had in Italy from her vacation about a year ago, I told her about Babbo and eventually this idea became concrete and I motivated myself to get an elusive reservation.
After our discussion, I Google mapped out where Babbo is, and it turned out that it’s a block away from my beloved Joe on Waverly Place. What I did was work out at my gym early morning, leave around 9, grab my cup of joe from Joe and wait outside in the cold in front of Babbo.
My cup of joe from Joe to warm me up
So after taking the pain of lingering out in the cold for ten minutes (and I almost recovered from my cold), my mission’s accomplished! Many thanks to Kathryn for the tip she posted on Chowhound!
Del Posto Entoeca…Just Gimme the Bread!
Ok, enough about old news (some nearly 2 weeks old)…I went to Del Posto Enoteca yesterday for lunch. I don’t want to be splurging for the whole Tasting Menu at Del Posto restaurant to save a bit for my Babbo dinner, hence I opted for the Enoteca.
Entering through their doors, I was a bit astounded by the huge space. It’s dimly lit, a bit palatial, covered in soft carpeting and marble floors as you go up the stairs leading to the maitre d’. I didn’t have any reservations, since I’m assuming that Opentable is only meant for the restaurant side. I requested for a table for myself at the there and was immediately seated.
Usually, an enoteca would be the wine bar except this is Del Posto, things have to be more finesse and upscale so they created a lounge area with the bar and a few tables across the room where it is the main dining room.
Here’s several interior photos:
Looking toward the maitre d’ area and behind
Eventually, I was greeted with the waiter and gave me their menu. Comparing with what was online, it changed slightly, as you will see the photos. I ended up going for the prix fixe menu since it’s basically 4 courses for $45, which isn’t so bad at all comparing to other fine dining establishments in the city.
After ordering, came the bread basket. Usually whenever I’m served with bread in any restaurants, I’m not amused with them since they’re usually served cold and sometimes a few were stale since they are outsourced by another bakery. But this was not the case. These warm, lovely, yeasty rolls were made in-house and they were amazing. Crisp and crusty with soft, pillowy innards…I’m in carb heaven. My particular favorites of the bread basket were their mini baguette (they should sell these, practically the best in the city), focaccia (so light and not greasy), and the olive roll (lots of olive chunks). By the end of my meal, I nearly ate the entire basket.
The lardo served with the bread and the typical sweet butter was very delicious as well. As you think it sounds, lardo is lard; meaning rendered pork fat that’s solidified, flavored with salt and lots of black pepper. It’s unbelievable that the pig have so many scrumptious uses.
My antipasto course was Grilled Octopus with Fagioli Diavoli & Cavolo Nero. Basically it’s octopus tentacles grilled served with a Tuscan kale and dark brown beans. The octopus was grilled to tender perfection. The kale gave it a tangy bite with a sweet aftertaste and the beans with its chewy skin and creamy innards worked well together.
Then came my first “taste” for the primi course: Spaghetti alla Vongole. What I thought I read from the menu when it said, “BIS: A sharing of two tastes for the entire table,” was referring to two tiny portions or bites but it came out to be two small appetizer sized plates of pasta. Obviously, this ended up to be a lot of pasta.
The spaghetti was chosen out the suggestion from my waiter which turned out to be a good recommendation. The spaghetti’s cooked al dente with a light touch of tomato sauce and bits of small clam meat tangled in the strands of pasta. All balanced nicely.
After finishing that plate off and waiting several minutes later, arrived my second “taste” the Garganelli alla Bolognese. The garganelli was housemade penne pasta cooked with a velvety, meaty Bolognese sauce. The Parmesan cheese added on top of the dish was a nice touch to give it an extra salty bite with a touch of cheesy funk.
Personally, I liked the spaghetti a bit more than the garganelli due to its delicate flavors.
Server grating the parm…yes, it’s out of focus
My Secondi or second course (I know, it’s seems like the fourth by now), the Beef Brasato with Cauliflower Ragu. The beef, which I was told, came from the shoulder, was braised into a tender, melt-in-your-mouth cut of meat. It’s so tender that I don’t need a knife to cut it. The cauliflower ragu portion was possibly a misnomer since I only had one floret of cauliflower while the rest were carrots and other root vegetables.
As I was eating my beef, the Executive Chef Mark Ladner made several appearances to the main dining room, plating and talking to the diners. Interestingly enough, I also saw the Pastry Chef Nicole Kaplan made an appearance earlier as well. I have to say, Mr. Ladner looks kinda cute…
Waiting out a bit for my dessert, it finally arrived; my Torta del Nonno. It’s basically a tart that is filled with chocolate ricotta, sprinkled with toasted pignoli (or pine) nuts. It’s executed nicely despite the fact that I think it’s a tad grainy due to the ricotta. What I really liked about the tart was the use of a high cocoa percentage in the chocolate and the pignoli nuts were so buttery besides giving it a textural contrast to the creaminess of the filling.
It’s a very good meal, albeit a very large one for me for a reasonable price. The most memorable thing in that meal was the bread basket and lardo, even though it’s arguable that it’s not part of the meal. The dishes I recommend to you are the grilled octopus and the spaghetti alla vongole. I can’t vouch for the dessert too much since it didn’t exactly blow me away but I did like it.
161 W 36th St
New York, NY 10018
80 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
141 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014
Del Posto Enoteca
85 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Thank you for making the reservations!!! I cannot wait! :)
I must agree on your view of Mark Ladner, teehee ;)
Kathy: You’re welcome!
Ah, well…that’s all I can say about Mark. Beyond that, I won’t go to that territory. hahaha…
OK, I was in Del POsto. I friend of mine surprised me and a few other friend and took us there. One of the best experiences I ever had. We had this special 5-course meal, for I think $50, which was fantastic! The food was just stunning, oh Gosh….when I remember it…And the bread basket with the lard and other smoked goodies, oh my!! When I graduate in September I am taking m parents there.
By the way, there is something about Mark Ladner….
Tea: The food was very good, but I won’t say it’s as transcendent as Jean Georges or Degustation. But you had a great deal!
Hahaha…Mr. Ladner is pretty easy on the eyes, no? ;)
oh yea…hehe, Mr. Ladner…
BY THE WAY, on of my friends is currently on externship at Jean Georges in nyc. Wanna go?! I am flying on the January 20th! :))
Well done on securing the reservation!
He he, when the bread is warm, fresh and fluffy I can happily eat several servings for my dinner instead!
Rich: Ah, thanks…some of the credit was due to Kathryn for giving me that excellent suggestion of securing one. I just need to get my lazy butt down there.
I think that applies to everyone (who isn’t carb phobic), who would eat warm bread for any meal!
I’m curious to find out what you think of Babbo. The first time I went I was blown away. The 2nd time was just eh. The service can be pretty poor. Your writing and photos always makes me hungry.
Kim: Stay tuned for that post! The date of the actual meal is on Jan. 6th, so it’s going to be soon…
Haha…thanks for the compliment. My intention is to make thee hungry. ;)
I must admit that you are all right about Mark Ladner…he is one hot chef. Mind you, I may be a little biased because I am his aunt. I’m in CA and haven’t had the chance to go to del Posto yet. I envy you New Yorkers who get to enjoy his culinary genius at all 3 of his restaurants.
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