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Feb 27, 2007 01:59 PM

Dessert: Babbo or Varietal?

It's my gf's birthday this saturday, and i was fortunately able to get dinner reservations at babbo. To make the occasion more special though, I was thinking of skipping dessert at babbo and instead doing the dessert tasting menu at varietal. am i making a mistake? are the desserts at babbo noteworthy, or simply just an afterthought?

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  1. I've been to Babbo a couple of times and thought the desserts were simply OK (except for a ginger cake that was phenomenal). However, I ate at Varietal Saturday night and absolutely loved it. I have had Jordan Kahn's desserts at Alinea and they are still wildly creative and generally very tasty. I had the white chocolate cubism, which is probably the most traditional of the bunch, and thought it was great. I also tried the chocolate gel which was even more elaborately constructed and also tasted great, although the mushroom aftertaste took a bit of time to get used to. If your girlfriend is the adventurous type, definitely check out Varietal, and go back for the amazing food and wine another time.

    1. Dessert at Babbo isn't bad at all. The cakes are usually good. If they have olive oil gelato get it. Finally, a nice way to do up dessert there is get something simple, maybe some biscotti and a good drink--they've got some nice choices in wine and amari at Babbo.

      I can't recommend Varietal. When I had the dessert tasting menu there about two months ago I wasn't very impressed. Each item tried really hard to be impressive (lots of sort of unusual ingredients--emphasis on lots, too many in fact--, presentation visually reminiscient of Jackson Pollack) but none worked all that well. At one point I compared one dessert to a Whatchamacallit, and realized that was exactly the problem. For all the flash, the desserts taste a whole lot like conventional fare (except for the mushroom caramel--that stuff rocked; if only it wasn't swamped by six or seven other items on the plate). Finally, the courses were way too big. We got bored with them after a few bites.

      Until Sam Mason's place opens, Room 4 Dessert, which is good but never quite as good as I hope, would be my dessert joint of choice.

      1. NY Magazine just featured Varietal's "Meditation in Purple" in the annotated dish session. Thought you may be interested:

        1. The pine nut crostata at Babbo is amazing. Enjoy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JeremyEG

            It IS amazing. My gf's eyes still roll back in her head any time she thinks about it a year after having it.

          2. don't do it! varietal is cold, service is spotty, and the whole place is gonna seem *real* sterile after dinner at babbo. of course, if you like cold white walls and super formal, kinda awkward service, maybe that's more your thing ... the desserts are tasty and interesting -- think celery root and chocolate, absinthe and green apple -- but not worth sacrificing a perfect affogato, saffron panna cotta, cheese course and few nibbles of mini biscotti. plus ... do you really want to traipse a girl out around town unnecessarily on a cold, wet, february night? do her stomach and her heels a favor and stay at babbo.