That Lori (from StuffIAte) and I decided to attend Food52′s Piglet Party to check out the Tournament of Cookbooks. We didn’t know much about the event, but when we arrived, it seemed as though no one else really knew much about the event… even the organizers. It said it started at 7, but when we arrived around 7:15, people were still setting up and there was no one really directing the flow.
There were a few stations with food and wine and then a bunch of cookbook authors sitting at a table, waiting to sign, but without any information about which cookbook they wrote. And while I have a special place in my heart for cookbook authors, I haven’t memorized their faces. So that was… strange. There was no place to put coats and no one found a garbage can, so Lori and I wound up sitting at a table surrounded by other people’s garbage. Someone was nice enough to say “thank you” as she put her garbage down next to us. With that… we decided to cut our losses and head out to take advantage of Restaurant Week. A quick search on the iPhone and we had a reservation for 10 minutes later at Barbounia, around the corner. (What DID we do before smart phones? Really???)
I have been meaning to try Barbounia for quite some time (especially for brunch, which is supposed to be awesome). But Restaurant Week seemed a great opportunity to check them out.
Here is the RW menu.
The inside is beautiful. Great arches with detailed lights. It looks like it should be a good deal bigger, but it was somehow cozy in a very grand way.
After ordered, we received a very warm, very fresh piece of bread. The edges were especially delicious.
I ordered the Grilled Oysters on half shell with tomato confit, fennel pollen hollandaise and parmesan crumble. Since it was Restaurant Week, I was expecting 1 or 2 small oysters. I was very surprised when it was 3 giant oysters. And they were DELICIOUS. The top was like mild melted cheese that complimented the oysters without taking away from the flavor. Really enjoyed this.
Lori got the Roman salad with romaine hearts, artichokes, fennel, celery, shave pecorino cheese and bresola. She seemed to enjoy it very much.
For entrees, I got the duck confit. It came with overnight braised farro, medjool dates, baby carrots, turnip with date syrup and 5 spice sauce (luckily, not one spice included peppers). This was cooked to perfection, full of flavor, and falling off the bone. The faro was ehh, but the sweet sauce was so good that when using the faro to sop it up, became mouthwatering.
Lori got the grilled pork (which doesn’t appear to be on the menu that is posted). I believe it came with Israeli cous cous, cipolin onions and black trumpet mushrooms. I though her dish was really outstanding. The pork was a perfect blend of meat and fat so it was succulent, and the sauce it had was delicious.
For dessert, we both opted for the dark chocolate mousse (also not on the posted menu) which came with a salted caramel sauce.
The mousse itself had GREAT flavor. Perfectly bitter sweet with chunks of chocolate. When you hit the flecks of salt, it took the flavor to a whole different level. Unfortunately, while the flavor was great, the mousse itself was a bit gritty. Tasted like the chocolate broke. But it was so good in taste that it hardly mattered.
Service was very good. Our waitress was attentive without being overbearing and didn’t treat us like Restaurant Week lepers (an all-to-common theme during RW).
Overall, our meal here was surprisingly delicious. I was impressed that a meal this good (and this big in portion!) had flown under my Restaurant Week radar. They deserve accolades for serving food proportionate to their regular menu, and fantastic in ingredients and flavor. They don’t skimp, and for that, they will earn my loyalty and I will be back. A great execution of Restaurant Week. Gave us just enough great food to bring us back for more.
Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10