Del Posto - REVIEW
Let me start by saying I was very reluctant to go to Del Posto - My favorite restaurants tend to be smaller, more intimate spots such as AOC Bedford, Dell'Anima, Apizz, etc.). Del Posto's grand size and close proximity to Meatpacking was an immediate turn-off. However, I was told by many friends that despite all that, Del Posto was worth the trip - that the food and service were exceptional...
I should have gone with my gut.
Let's start with the service: I had an 8:30pm reservation and was not seated until 9pm. Only after I complained 5 times and asked to speak to the manager did I get an apology. The maitre'd fed me one excuse after another and the manager did nothing to help the situation. It was only after 20 minutes that they sent someone over to offer us a tasting from the kitchen - but unfortunately it was a completely unappetizing fried rice ball. Once we sat down the service improved...
Atmosphere - this didn't surprise me at all, but still...the only way to describe it is that it feels like you're in a hotel lobby somewhere in the midwest. And the servers present the menu to you as if you are at a theme restaurant.
Food - I really wanted to love it. I am usually a big fan of Mario Batali - Lupa and Otto are 2 favorites. But nothing I ate was exceptional, or even mildly satisfying. Here's a rundown...
-Amuse Bouche: shot of soup - tasted like watery milk; artichoke chips - ok, not very tasty; fried potato dumplings w/tomato paste - I'll give them a point for this one, but again, nothing special.
-Roasted Winter Vegetables w/truffled hazelnuts: this was actually a good dish - fresh, crisp vegetables and I love the taste of truffles.
-Cauliflower Sformato w/poached lobster: the lobster was cooked well but the cauliflower custard had little flavor
-Rare Tuna w/Bresaola: Loaded w/salt and that was all I could taste. It overpowered everything else on the plate.
-Lamb Chops: tender and juicy but lacking any flavor. The accompanying tomato paste would have been great, but once again they used too much salt
- Dessert: this was on the house - they brought out sorbet/gelato sampler, semifreddo, lemon tart, and panna cotta - all were just ok, none stood out.
The plate of tiny cookies they brought out at the very end was the best part of the entire meal.
Unfortunately I had a similar terrible experience my last (and it will be my last) time there, after two wonderful meals in the past. Service was terrible; similar wait for table, then stuck us in back room next to service station (nothing says romantic dinner like someone bumping your chair every few minutes and pouring water behind you). Moved to new table, but then it took 30 minutes for someone to bring us a menu. Never did see a wine captain. The jalapeño crab spaghetti, normally the highlight for me, was truly inedible. Left it untouched and intended to complain, but then we didn't see anyone other than a runner for the next hour. Honestly, the crab smelled so fishy, I'm amazed it made it out of the kitchen. One entree was perfect, the other was grossly overdone. The lack of follow up to the service was so appalling, it actually became sport to see if anyone would come by to check on us. No one did. Wanted to give some sort of manager an earful on the way out, but none were within shouting distance in the 5 minutes I stood waiting by the front while my wife went to the restroom.
Truly sad experience, as my previous two trips were simply fantastic.
I've been to Del Posto twice. The first time my wife and I, out of curiosity, just dropped in and ate in the enoteca, limited menu of course, but we enjoyed it very much. The second time, we made reservations for the main dining room and went with another couple. We all ordered the grain tasting menu (I think that is what it was called), and while everything tasted good, the servings to me were very small, and I do like smaller plates in order to have more variety, but to me these were very small. In the end, I was very disappointed, and hungry. My wife and our friends didn't seem to have the same reaction as me, but they weren't very excited by the experience either. After we left, we hit a local pub and had a couple of plates of chicken fingers to kill our hunger. NOT what I would expect from a Batali restaurant, and given the price of the dinner bill. But then again, maybe the tasting menu is not the way to go there.
Also, the service, while it was good, seemed to be somewhat of a circus, at least to me. Three and four waiters at a time were circling our table bringing out our dishes, etc. It all seemed very rushed. In the end I would go back, but only to the enoteca.