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Mar 22, 2007 12:13 PM

DIB at Tempo

Wanted to start a new thread on this off of DIB any sleepers thread...

Ate at Tempo last night and was truly blown away. I don't expect much for $21.12 or for any special deal, but have been out taking advantage of the cheap prices mostly to try new restaurants. So far I've eaten at Applewood (my first time there), Cocotte (2nd time) and Convivium (2nd time). Was not impressed with Applewood, and I rather enjoyed Cocotte, and Convivium, let's just say they REALLY need to work on their service.

Been to Tempo many times before, and knew that I would have a great meal there.

The place was absolutely alive! The restaurant is huge to begin with, and I got there for an 8:30 reservation and it was all just buzzing! I felt like I was in the middle of a Manhattan bistro! We were seated promptly (5 minute wait) and taken to our table by the smiling maitre d' . I gotta say, Tempo seems to have the best service in Brooklyn. They really know how to make people feel comfortable. Our server was very upbeat - he seemed to be really enjoying the energy in the room, and the young sommelier picked us the perfect bottle to work with both salmon and steak (I wrote about this on the Tempo wine list thread) - we splurged on a bottle since the meal is so inexpensive. Wish I could go back every night, but they seem to be booked up. But I did manage to get a reservation for this Sunday. With these prices - why not go as often as possible? I normally have to pay so much to be pampered this way. They give you so much more for the money.

All of our food was impressive, but the standout had to be the Veal Sweetbread appitizer. Wow! Rich, decadent puree of celery root and perfectly crispy sweetbreads (one of my favorites) but the kicker were the sweet & sour pearl onions - a sweet and sour sauce with toasted celery seeds. Wow!

Tempo just felt like the place to be, where all of the energy of DIB is concentrated. While I know that's not true (looking forward to Palo Santo next week), it just felt that way - with every table full, a giant staff waiting on our every whim, good music, great food and wine, it was really just spectacular.


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  1. Bravo, I was at the bar last night also. Jam packed and fantastic food and service!

    1. evoo wrote: "The place was absolutely alive! The restaurant is huge to begin with, and I got there for an 8:30 reservation and it was all just buzzing! I felt like I was in the middle of a Manhattan bistro!"

      Does this mean the noise level was high? Regardless of the quality of the food, if I can't have a conversation with my dining companion, I'm not interested.

      sharonm wrote: "Bravo, I was at the bar last night also. Jam packed and fantastic food and service!"

      I've enjoyed DIB meals at the bar at Applewood. Did you eat at the bar? Did you need a reservation for bar seating? Since the bar adjoins the entrance, was the crowd/noise an issue?

      1 Reply
      1. re: famdoc

        The noise level was not intrusive, meerly exciting. I think that for restaurant week, you have to expect that every place you go. In fact, it was a nice change of pace. Could hear my dinnermate just fine.

      2. Walking 5th Ave last night after 9pm, past the buzzing Tempo, my thought was that *they* are big winner in the DiB sweepstakes. They are getting very good exposure, which is what these promotions are supposed to do anyway.
        The other big winner is the al di la fans; al di la is *not* doing DiB, and they were equally abuzz.

        Wish I had thought to peek in Stone Park/Blue Ribbon/BR Sushi...

        1 Reply
        1. re: pitu

          I think the first time i went to Tempo was at Dine In Brooklyn last year and it was not very hopping at all. In fact, its rare that I ever find it to be all that crowded -- which is great because Tempo is my favorite restaurant in the Slope and I can always get in, but is bad because it makes me worry about if they are doing enough service.

          Glad to see this great, but imo severely underrated restaurant is finally getting its due.

        2. I was so excited about trying this restaurant after all of the glowing Restaurant Week reviews from last year. However, I was treated with a rather lackluster meal with, quite frankly, annoying service. Sadly, it was disheartening enough not to return.

          To start, we were made to wait 25 minutes for an 8:30 reservation. As it was the first night of RW, we accepted that and really wanted to enjoy a nice night out.

          Our waiter, though friendly, was very upselly - "Can I bring you a side of our tasty chickpea fries or our outstanding roasted squash?" - that's the kind of line I'd expect from a TGI Chillingtons. "Shall I leave the menu behind for your wine selection for this evening." was another gem, especially after we told him we wouldn't be drinking. (We had had a rough night the night before and were planning on ordering a couple of bottles of sparkling water and to tip well.)

          The first course was mixed - my wife's duck pastilla (or b'steeya or bistilla or whatever the transliteration of the Arabic is) was fine - nothing outstanding but a decent appetizer. However, my bruschetta with sweet pea and ricotta was bland and the bread was horribly charred. And by that I mean almost inedibly burnt. Which is probably why it took a half hour between ordering our app and entree and receiving the apps. Even if the bread hadn't been burnt I feel that the flavors weren't there; I'd rather eat the free bread and dip from Downtown Atlantic then pay the $9 off the regular menu for this.

          The entrees, brought to our table within 15 minutes of our apps being cleared, were also rather uninspired. My wife's chicken with peri-peri was an airplane-style breast smothered in a rather bland peri-peri sauce. I can't remember what else was going on on her plate but I wasn't really all too interested. My salmon was nicely cooked - however, it came with a salad that tasted exactly - and I kid you not - Hendrick's Gin. It was a salad of juniper (of course that added to the gin flavor) but also fennel, cucumber, apple - it wasn't unappetizing per se, it just did nothing to the salmon. In fact - I just looked at their menu online and it states the salmon has a peri-peri glaze - again - the glaze had no discernible flavor. (piri-piri when I've had it before has been rather incendiary.)

          The dessert was sadly the best part of the meal, though just barely so. My lemon ginger creme brulee tasted nothing like lemon or ginger. That said, it was a decent creme brulee and was rather enjoyed. My wife's chocolate sorbetto stole the show - it was dense and chocolaty and possibly the boldest flavor we'd encountered all evening.

          When we were presented the check we noticed that we weren't billed for the bottle of water (we ended up switching to tap as we were annoyed by the waiters upselling). Since our waiter was MIA for about 10 minutes, we brought it to the maitre d's attention when he asked if he could take our check. I don't want to act like I should be enshrined as a hero, but a thank you from our waiter would have been nice. Instead, when he returned with the credit card slips, he looked at the check, said "This one's yours" - put it down on the table and turned and walked away.

          All in all I found it to be a very disappointing experience, though I would return to Tempo Presto for the sorbetto.

          7 Replies
          1. re: lambretta76

            I didn't realize Convivium was taking part in DIB. Is it?

            1. re: lambretta76

              i totally got the same cheesey upsell. i think the head guy is very professional but he hires some very amateurish types to make him appease the neighborhood. these servers are far from upscale material and it comes off as embarrassing.

              1. re: lambretta76

                our group of 3 did DIB at Tempo on Tuesday evening.

                we also experienced an annoying amount of upselling (and we did upgrade to the hanger steak, order two additional sides, a coffee, and a glass of wine). they really pushed, and i mean PUSHED the wine. my husband and i are only light drinkers, and my friend doesn't drink at all. they kept pushing her wine, even after she told them "no, really, i DON'T drink).

                another service thing that i thought was strange, there were two moments when my husband was briefly away from the table -- during both of those moments, the people in the restaurant assumed that our "third" must be a woman. girls night out? it wasn't insulting, as much as it was perplexing why anyone would make any gender assumption about the third person in our party...

                but onto the food, which is why we went...


                sweetbreads -- eh. i love sweetbreads when they are well-prepared. i'm bored by them when they aren't balanced by other flavors that accentuate them. i was bored. the sweetbreads themselves were just crispy and fried, and as boring to me as i found the sweetbreads at momofuko. the celery root puree was also bland, but the sweet-sour onions were great.

                polenta -- possibly the best dish at the table, all night. the sausage was tasty with some heat and some sweet. the polenta was creamy and cheesy and wonderful. the first time my husband has liked polenta.

                duck bastilla -- presented like a fried duck spring-roll. it was good, and one of the better dishes ... but it wasn't terribly unusual. just solidly tasty.


                skate -- bland. fish had nice texture, but no flavor. sauce was too salty, likely as a result of too many capers. the cauliflower-puree was tasteless and i couldn't identify what it was (need to look at the menu again).

                hanger steak -- worth the upgrade. the steak itself was tasty, and the rub on the outside was wonderful, a bit of spice and a bit of sweet and salt. the cheesy "tater tots" were a lovely cheese explosion. the red-sauce (romanesco sauce) was lovely ... tasted largely of roasted red peppers and almonds. the two spears of grilled asparagus looked tasty too.

                sicilian pistachio bucatinni -- good and tasty, with a nice texture. however, i only like a pasta dish as an accompaniment, not as a main. we enjoyed it, but wouldn't normally order it.

                side dishes:
                chickpea fries - awful. tasteless, with a texture that was like fried polenta sticks maybe, nothing like a "french fry". we left about half of them uneaten.

                butternut squash with honey and rosemary - decent, nice rosemary flavor, but too much honey. the squash is already sweet, no?

                creme brulee - a nice creme brulee, but the promised ginger flavor seemed missing. maybe a slight hint of that and lemon.

                passionfruit tart - 2 of us liked it, i didn't. to me, it tasted and smelled of sewage, like durian. i don't like oversweet fruit, and i didn't expect to like this. i was right.

                we were disappointed. we got the Pinor Noir, and it had a strong, bitter aftertaste to us. so our waiter brought the sommilier, who brought us something else to taste, which we also didn't like. he brought us something else, which we accepted, but didn't like either. my husband thinks that the olive oil might have "ruined" our palette for the wine, but i don't know ... olive oil and red wine should go more hand in hand... but, i can't say we know anything about wine, we just know if we enjoy it's taste or not.


                1. re: charlie_b

                  this is so distressing! we wanted to take friends next tuesday, and i'm afraid we are going to have to cancel the reservation now. i want to try this place and have heard great things, but will shoot for my birthday (not during restaurant week) instead.

                  NOTHING says no loving like being treated to, as a former poster put it, the TGI Chillington's treatment. upsells are smart, but should never be pushy -- especially during DIB or RW. if restaurants are so distressed about losing margin, they should NOT participate.

                  ugh, i had higher hopes for Brooklyn, but i think i'm through with any sort of DIB/RW for good.

                  1. re: charlie_b

                    I'm glad to have read your post, Charlie. My wife and I are taking my friend and his fiancee out this weekend to Tempo. I've had great experiences at the place and really think it's one of the great restaurants that've popped up in Park Slope. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't place the mussels with chorizo on the DIB menu, it's probably a food cost issue... But after reading your review, I now know what to try and what to avoid (perhaps the annoying servers primarily...) Thanks for the heads up!

                    Oh, and I think your husband might have been right. Olive oil usually makes wine taste astringent... I've been pretty satisfied with the wine menu at Tempo. I think they have a great selection. Give it another go next time (but before you have the olive oil ;)

                  2. re: lambretta76

                    We went on Sunday to DiB at Tempo; were looking forward to it as we've had an excellent meal there in the past. We were seated promptly for an 8:30 reservation but from there the service was some of the worst I've had in the neighborhood. After asking for a few minutes to review the wine list, we then waited 20 minutes to order after our waiter disappeared. There was a busboy with a serious limp who we saw about ten times before our guy (with two healthy legs) came back. We then waited another 20-25 minutes for our entrees after our appetizers were done. Twice he cleared my plate while my boyfriend was still eating (a pet peeve) and in general acted like a bumbling rookie. It was 10:15 before we got to order dessert, and were almost done with that by the time the coffee came. The food was good... but there are lots of places to get the same quality and better service. Disappointing.

                    1. re: ark99

                      that is very disappointing. i had a very different experience there on saturday evening. the waitstaff was almost too attentive (is that possible?) they were hovering a bit and almost anytime someone took a sip they came to refill. All in all food was lovely, and even got a "best meal" (this included manhattan's restaurant week!) from my dining companions. I also thought it was very nice that there were so many selections to choose from. Many restaurants only had 3 choices and I've seen chow posts with less than 3.

                  3. We had a delicious dinner at TEMPO this week. They are thoroughly professional, and wisely chose to offer only the DIB Menu for Restaurant Week. The wine is an added little bonus; when ordering a glass, they bring you a carafe which contains almost 2 glasses. We had a nice Reisling with our first courses, and a Haut Medoc with dinner.

                    Our reservation for 8:00 was honored and we were shown to our table immediately, even though the restaurant was abuzz and full. An attractive, nicely dressed crowd, obviously enjoying themselves, creates an exciting atmosphere, as OP stated.

                    Since they only offer the DIB Menu, we were was pleased when our waitress told us about the specials... a lovely Wild Striped Bass in a Curry mustard Sauce.

                    We always have the B'stilla appetizer, and I have to disagree with the OP. It was delicious. Crispy pastry, with a rich and meaty, nicely spiced Duck filling.

                    Ditto for the Panisses, the "Chickpea Fries". I have dined on these in many places in Nice and the South of France, and these were exactly the way they are supposed to be... nicely browned, creamy and delicious inside, not at all greasy. Perhaps the OP has never tasted the real thing and had other expectations. Panisses are never supposed to be like Frites.

                    My Polenta with Sausage was decadently delicious. Unfortunately, sight unseen, I had agreed to share mine with my DH who ordered the B'stilla. Next time, it is all for me!

                    I would highly recommend that you all try TEMPO. You will not find a finer dinner for $21.12 anywhere. It is a nice way to try the restaurant. We went for the first time last year during DIB, and we have returned many, many times since for wonderful meals.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Fleur

                      We ate there last night, and it was pretty great. No upselling that I could see. We did have to wait around 20 minutes after our reservation time to be seated, also had to wait a while to order--and while I heard the server mention striped bass to another table, he didn't offer it to us. That was kind of odd. (I might have asked, but forgot about it until I read the above post.) Generally, everybody loved everything—the two pastas, skate, chicken, polenta, duck roll thing, bruschetta, the salad w/goat cheese. The only off note, I thought, was the caper sauce served alongside the skate. It was so salty and caper-ish that it was basically inedible--I tried to separate the raisins from the capers, because theywere good. But fish was good without the sauce. Also, the ginger creme brulee was excellent except that it didn't seem to have any ginger in it. Definitely worth it.

                      1. re: gnosh

                        Arrived Friday 9:15 PM without reservations, intending to sit at the bar.
                        Bar seating opened for myself and my companion within 15 minutes.
                        Treated just fine by each of the two hard-working bartenders.
                        Agree that caper sauce on skate was just a bit overpowering.
                        Pistachio pesto, considered one of Tempo's signature dishes, was enjoyable, as usual.
                        Absolutely no upselling.
                        Wine suggestion: most glasses of wine are in the $10-13 range.
                        Why not try the Cahors for $32 a bottle from the wine list? A blend of Cab, Merlot and other grapes from the Southwest of France, it drinks like a Bordeaux for half the price.

                        1. re: famdoc

                          Hopefully the owners read about the upselling here at Chowhound and decided to change their policy during DIB. I might have had an entirely different experience had that not happened, one that in which I would be willing to give it another try post-DIB. Sadly, with my experience there are just too many other amazing restaurants to try in Brooklyn and beyond. I'm quite glad other readers have had more positive meals since my visit.

                          1. re: lambretta76

                            I have been told that TEMPO does indeed read Chowhound. Nice to know they are responsive to customer feedback.

                            Which other restaurants are you planning on?

                            We love LE PETIT MARCHE, but I'm not sure they are ready for DIB, and are serving their regular Menu with a very small DIB Menu..

                            CHESTNUT is another great choice.

                      2. re: Fleur

                        Just a side note - whenever I've had panisses they're usually much smaller, closer in size to English-style chops - the chickpea fries served at Tempo are much larger - about 1-1/2" by 1", and about 4" long. That said, I've never been that into them no matter where I've had them - they're generally a vehicle for sopping up sauce (like yummy harissa-infused mayo) though that's far from a traditional serving style. The version at Counter in Manhattan I found to be far superior, although the food there is wildly unpredictable.

                        1. re: lambretta76

                          Since I visited TEMPO last night for DIB I figured I would comment on our DELICIOUS meal. I went with a large group of people and we were seated right away in the very warm and comforting dining room. The restaurant was very busy and after eating there it's easy to understand why. We started off with a wonderful bottle of red wine and all enjoyed the first course. A few of us ordered the brushetta which had such a lovely creamy texture which soaked right into the bread and had a lovely crunch on the outside crust. The goat cheese salad was prepared just right and the dressing on the salad was amazing. For the main meal we decided to go with the hangar steak which as mentioned above had the tastiest rub on the outside- SO worth the extra $5. A few of us went for the bucatini after reading the reviews on here and wanted to say thank you to all who recommended it! The chicken has a very nice flavor to it as well. We went with the squash and mashed potatoes for side dishes and were happy with both. The mashed potatoes were creamy and flavorful and the squash had just the right amount of seasonings. For dessert we all wanted something cold so decided to eat the gelatto and both flavors rocked! A few of us went with the coconut and the chocolate lovers could not get over the richness of the dumonde flavor. Even though it is a steal of a meal you can tell TEMPO in no way went cheap on anything- the service was perfect and the portions and quality of food was better then any other restaurant I have tried for DIB.
                          We will DEFINITELY be back!!!

                          1. re: moodyfoodie

                            One more Tempo DIB bonus: Save your receipt...there's a 15% off coupon at the bottom good until the end of April.

                            1. re: famdoc

                              Thank you Famdoc for the reminder. Of course, my DH saves every receipt, but I would have never thought to look on the bottom.

                              We can all look forward to another wonderful dinner at TEMPO, this time at 15% off. Next time, I will definitely have the Polenta....all for myself.

                              1. re: Fleur

                                Want to add one more Kudos for Tempo as these reviews are clearly so mixed! We had a flawless dinner there last night for DIB. Absolutely no upsell, our waiter was professional, attentive and efficient (and nice!) Seated immediately, absolutely no issues with service or the food. As for the food...we both opted for the hanger steak upgrade--mainly I couldn't resist the "tatertots with calabrales"! Perfectly cooked steak, everything on the plate was delicious (especially those tater-tots--I could have eaten a whole plateful of them.) As for starters, he had the polenta (I couldn't keep my fork out of his plate, it was so creamy and good) and I had the duck pastilla rolls--which I've had before, so no surprise there, but they are always tasty. We also had a super wine--splurged a little (for us) since it was hubby's birthday--had a 2001 Lange Rosso Faletto, superb.

                                For dessert, the creme brulee (very good) and the gelato (the only rather boring note---the gelatos (coconut and cafe du monde) were a little light on flavor and nearly tasted the same, oddly. Plus two glasses of muscat.

                                All in all a wonderful meal, although somehow the $21 DIB menu morphed into a $150 meal with all that wine :-) Luckily I'd saved my receipt for 15% off during april, thanks Famdoc for pointing it out or I might not have noticed!

                                1. re: jinx

                                  i have to second that emotion. i went last saturday with six friends and had a wonderful meal. there was no upselling, the waiters were plenty attentive without being overbearing, and the food was excellent. this place is definitely one of my faves in the 'hood!