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Sep 27, 1999 04:12 PM

Service at Babbo

  • l

I found the old discussion on surly service at Babbo, circa January. I'm planning a special dinner and was wondering if any of you have re-visited it, and whether it will satisfy on a special evening. Other choices would be Alison on Dominick, or Bouley Bakery.
What I hate: attitudinal servers, microscopic portions, misleading menus.

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  1. Hi Liza,

    I dined in the bar area at Babbo (same food, you don't need a reservation, just go and hope) shortly after it opened last fall, and was blown away. The pastas in particular were mindblowing.

    Our waitperson was perfectly civil and normal. The portions are neither huge nor tiny. The menus do not include much information about what you will actually get, if I remember correctly, but our waitperson was pleased to explain everything. Not a problem, and a really good wine list as well.

    I keep meaning to go back but I never plan far enough ahead.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Patrick A.

      Thanks for the positive reinforcement. I did call for a reservation yesterday and was immediately put off by the attitude of the reservation maker. Oh well. Still going. Still more excited about the forthcoming meal than any other in recent memory.

      1. re: Liza

        I made a reservation for 4 there, but two days in advance needed to change it to 6 - the reservation person gave me a total hard time, said it was impossible. When I asked to speak to the maitre'd, she told me to call back later, and when I did, I got total satisfaction. The person actually told me not to worry, she would take care of it - which is what we all really want to hear, isn't it? So, that was my experience, anyway. That reservation job must really suck.

    2. I dined at Babbo (see "Americans-in-Paris: Success" posting, 9/29/99) last month and find myself still thinking about our waiter. He's my latest crush. I thought the service was great (and great looking), and the food was fantastic. The people with whom I dined are the most difficult to please bunch imaginable, so if they were happy, I'm sure you will be.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tara

        Ate at Babbo a few weeks ago when travelling in NYC. Loved it. The pasta tasting menu was delicious: I won't repeat the detail already on this board except to say that we found the dishes tasty and inventive, using new combinations without seeming overly garish (though maybe the over-abundance of wine clouded a bit).

        The service was very friendly and courtious but a bit loose, shall we say. One busboy kept trying to take my girlfriend's plate away before she was done (no, she did not have her silverware in the 4:30 position). Oh well, we found it amusing anyway.

        The odd thing was the music. Sinatra when we arrived: not odd. Within 10 minutes, Bob Marley's greatest hits were on. Yes, Bob Marley. You know, those familiar, simple, repetitive, (uninteresting) rhythms of the sexual frustration of your college years (ok, I'm speaking for myself here). It was a bit of an odd match for Babbo ... for the next 2 hours; yes, they put on a Bob Marley live CD after. A group of Australians at the next table to the waiter: "great food, great restaurant, but what's with the reggae, mate?"

      2. went to babbo and thought the service was fine. certainly not the best service in the world, but not bad in any way. one thing, avoid the duck liver ravioli. way too sweet and rich, almost made me sick.
        alison on dominick is a nice place, but they just got a new chef and don't think he's quite found his feet yet. having said that, his terrine of foie gras is outstanding, very clean and uncluttered. his entrees lack good accompaniments, however. way different atmosphere from babbo, much more subdued. service was fine, but not great. talk about misleading menu, i ordered the "boneless" squab specifically because it was boneless, and out came the whole bird intact. i had to send it back, but at least they were cool about it.

        i'd definitely go to bouley bakery if you have the chance and if it's a special occasion though who knows if you can get a res after grimes' review. haven't been there in over a year and before the renovation, so can't give you a reliable account. will tell you however, that it certainly wasn't four star then though it was very good and definitely a three star. if grimes is saying it got better, you're money. the bread cart is awesome. service is solicitous and atmosphere is very nice. good luck and have fun and happy eating.


        1 Reply
        1. re: wonki

          I love the duck foie gras ravioli--I've had it twice. The balsamic vinegar 'sauce' may have added the sweetness that you didnt like...but I really love the whole dish. While I've eaten there a dozen times, I have only eaten at the bar, so can not comment on the other service, except to say that the folks at the bar are clever and adept--and the sommelier is a stitch.

        2. I went to Babbo last week. This was the second time we had been there over the past few months. I found the service to be divided into two categories. First, the waiter was competant and to the point. Not schmaltzy but he did his job efficiently. That was fine with me because I don't happen to like waiters who overstay their welcome. Next, the busboy staff was constantly on the job with decrumbing the tables, pouring the wine, refilling the water, etc. I asked one for a non tuscan olive oil for bread dipping purposes and he accomodated me nicely. The sommelier was friendly and right on the money with his advice on a wine selection. I picked a $35 bottle of pino grigio and it was excellent, very delicate with a floral nose. I really enjoyed the wine and was impressed with his selection within my price range. The food was very good but the portions were on the smaller side, especially the fresh anchovy appetizer. The one knock on the place ( I can only comment on the downstairs and have not eaten upstairs) is that the tables are positioned along the walls and since the staff heavily uses the remaining space as the walkway, it can be very "busy" and not particularly comfortable.