Excited Londoner with reservation at Babbo!!
I'm coming to the US for the family trip of a lifetime with my dad and bro - this will be my dad's first ever trip across the pond and our first stop is NYC - so excited! Have spent a while now lurking on this site and following advice I have got us dinner reservations at Babbo and at Peter Luger. I've been to Luger before so I know its steak for 3 (yay!) but cannot wait to try out Babbo.
So....What do we order?? This is a once only visit for my dad. He isnt that adventurous so I know he'll lean towards chops and steak - what should I order to let him some variety?? So many things have been recommended on here, I want to try them all! Also my bro is of the bottomless pit variety of human - is an antipasti, a pasta dish and a secondi each too much?? (Bearing in mind he will finish off whatever we leave - when we ate at Lombardis we ordered a large pizza between us and he nearly ate the whole thing to himself)
We are also going to return to Lombardis with my dad and some friends who are also in town as we loved it and I think he will...
Finally I also know that I want to take him to Katz Deli. After taking him to eat at these places, will I have done his NY trip proud or is there anywhere else I should try and squeeze in?? Unfortunately, we only have 4 nights before we move on so 3 are gone already..but there's always room for lunch and brunch and late night eats! Oh and dessert!
Warning: Long post!
Back from my hol now and trying to catch up with letting you know how I got on! NY was fab as ever.
Down to the food business, am going to leave out all the little stops for drinks etc as we wandered around NYC, this post will be long enough as is but we did enjoy walking around Chelsea, Soho and Greenwich Village stopping every now and again for drinks.
We arrived late Fri night and got dragged by my bro to the Tick Tock Diner at 34th and 8th Sat am. He stayed near there on a previous trip and wanted to go back for the nostalgia factor. I’d eaten there once before and hated it and once again I thought it was horrible, had a cheese omelette that tasted of nothing and lay in my stomach like a stone. Never again.
Sat night we ate at Lombardis with 2 friends as planned. I know not everyone is a huge fan of Lombardis but we all really enjoyed it. In comparison to the pizza I get here in London I think it’s good. Didn’t find the base was soggy despite choosing quite an array of toppings, thought the sauce was really tasty as well. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get to any other pizza places whilst in NY which disappointed me as I had hoped to get to at least one other that has been recommended, but does mean that another trip is in the offing in order to compare and contrast!!
Sun morning we were all very hungover and tired due to a late night’s drinking Sat. We tried to go to a couple of the brunch places suggested here (Five Points and Essex – I wanted a Bloody Mary!) but as we were late there was quite a wait for each place and we really couldn’t wait for the sustenance. So we ended up wandering trying to find somewhere and finally ate in a random diner called Moonstruck. Really didn’t think much of it, they mixed up our orders and my eggs were pretty cold. Usually I would complain but it had been such a mare we just ate what we could and got out of there!
Things look up from here after 2 rubbish breakfasts/brunches – at last!!! We ate at Blue Smoke on Sun night and thought the burgers were really good. Meat was very good quality and had that lovely smoky taste – managed to polish it all off, with the chips. The restaurant was busy even on a Sunday and good fun. Dad was pleased with this recommendation! (BTW every restaurant suggestion I now get asked by my dad and bro if its from Chowhound!!)
Mon we were out early and stopped at Katz Deli – first time. Managed to get the counter order sorted and was given some pastrami to try by the server – yum! OMG, the pastrami sandwich was amazing, so soft and juicy and the bread was lovely. So filling tho – despite my brother helping me out with mine! Pickle very good too. Wanted to do RGR’s Lower East side tour but we were pushed for time and also for stomach space with a reservation at Babbo that evening also beckoning.
Monday night was Babbo night – my treat for my dad and bro. Dad was pleased as he got to wear his suit that he’d brought away with us and not feel out of place! We were seated upstairs which I was glad of as it seemed lighter, airier and less noisy than downstairs. We wisely avoided the bread because we had so much food to come!!! The guys let me order and after research on her, and also a personal preference of what I/we like this is what I ordered for the 3 of us:
Lambs Tongue vinaigrette salad
Pigs foot Milanese
Spaghetti with lobster
Tagliatelle Bolognese (I absolutely love Bolognese and had to try it here)
Mint love letters
Ravioli with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar
Side: Rosemary roasted potatoes (the Irish in my dad and bro wont let them have meat without potatoes!)
Our server was really good, he was friendly and extremely knowledgeable about all the food, the preparation and the ingredients but he did suggest we also ordered the ribeye steak in addition to the above. I am very pleased that I declined his suggestion, not that I wouldn’t have loved to have tried it but for us it definitely would have been too much food. Also we had had burgers the night before and were due to have steak at Peter Lugers the following night.
Let me preface this review by saying that my dad and bro are not the most adventurous of eaters and upon reflection I probably should have reconsidered what I ordered for our appetisers – I did get a little carried away and wanted to try these dishes myself! Despite the fact that I enjoy liver and kidneys, and also am a big fan of black and white pudding none of us really enjoyed the lambs tongue salad. However it was beautifully presented and I do think this was down to our personal preference rather than the dish. The dressing was nice and the egg was perfect (and I did think the egg went well with the lambs tongue and preferred it mixed together with the egg rather than on its own) but I just didn’t really like the taste or texture of the tongue.
I did quite like the pigs foot, as did my bro (Dad didn’t) but in hindsight and given how good the pastas were, personally I would save the room for the pasta were I to visit again.
My favourite part of the meal – the pasta!! At this point I wasn’t thinking that things were going too successfully, my dad hadn’t enjoyed the appetisers at all and wasn’t looking happy and I was thinking I’d have been better taking him to a TGI Fridays. Happy families! But the pasta came and everything was well again! The server explained the order that he would serve the pasta in so that the dishes would complement each other better – spaghetti with lobster and tagliatelle Bolognese together followed by mint love letters and then the ravioli on their own.
We really enjoyed the spaghetti, thought it was cooked perfectly and there was plenty of lobster. Thought the flavour was nicely offset by the tomato and a hint of a kick of chilli. Really impressed by the tagliatelle Bolognese, good ratio of meat to pasta and very tasty. This was actually my dad’s favourite dish of the meal and he said it was the best pasta he’d ever had. Mint love letters came – I can still taste that mint! It was shocking, but shockingly good! The fennel was also very apparent without being overpowering and I thought this it was lovely. Then finally came the ravioli. Dad was starting to feel full and didn’t like the look of it (black and sticky!) so was half thinking of leaving it to save more room for the pork chop but my brother dove straight in. One look at my bro’s face enticed Dad to grab his fork and his life changed!! He kept on about how he’d never tasted anything like it and he hadn’t expected to like it but thought it was stunning. It didn’t last long on any of our plates.
So full by this point!!!!!! We had a decent gap between the pasta and the pork chop though and we all dug in when it came. It was beautifully cooked and the fat was really crispy and just melted away. The potatoes were perfectly roasted as well and very tasty, not too greasy. Dad and John really enjoyed the pork – so did I but let me just say I’m not a huge pork fan (they are). I eat it but I’d prefer another type of meat so it just shows how good it was for me to enjoy it as well. However if I went back again I would have the lamb, or maybe even the rib eye the waiter suggested, once again just due to my personal taste.
Dessert menu was brought and I so wanted to try the fruit crostata (it was lemon and I love lemon!!). However I couldn’t manage it by myself (Dad refused due to being stuffed) and my brother had already decided he was going to fit in a cheesecake (he loves dessert). So the crostata was left behind and I made do with an espresso (and the yummy biscotti type biscuits). At this point I left the table and upon my return my dad was up out of his seat shaking the waiter’s hand. A strange sight. Turns out my brother’s cheesecake had arrived and once again my dad had decided to up forks seeing the look on his face as he tried it and thought it was so good that he had to shake the waiter’s hand in gratitude…..family. The cheesecake was lovely though, creamy but still light and the biscuit seemed to be throughout every bite rather than just at the base.
All in all a wonderful meal and excellent service – totally uphill after the appetisers for me. I could go back and eat that pasta every night (if I didn’t live in London and if I could get a reservation!).
Tues am we ate breakfast at a restaurant around the corner from the hotel as we were going to the Rockefeller Center which was a couple of blocks away. It was called Pigalle and was decorated in the style of a French bistro. Was nothing very exciting, I had eggs, toast and home fries which were quite bland but my bro had a bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese which he quite enjoyed.
Everything went a bit wrong for our reservation at Peter Luger on Tues night. Made the mistake of letting the guys loose Tues afternoon while I went shopping and came back to find they’d been on a bit of a bar crawl and were hell bent on continuing it. So much to my disappointment I had to call Peter Luger and cancel and apologise profusely, and join in with the bar crawl which took in quite a bit of Hells Kitchen. (an area I haven’t really been to on previous trips and did quite enjoy some of the bars) Sometimes you have to go with the flow. Anyway later on that evening we went to an Indian restaurant….stumbled upon it after walking for a while. I think it was called Bombay Palace. This was at my dad’s insistence that he wanted a curry, despite my reservation that I haven’t ever really had good Indian food in the US. I’m sure there is, and having read some of the Outer Borough posts I’d be interested on a future visit to head out to maybe Queens to try some, but I didn’t think we’d find it round where we were and we didn’t. It was really expensive, especially compared to London, and even with a few beers in us we didn’t enjoy it. Somehow it was just like chicken with no flavour and a sauce – like a bland stew with chicken that hadn’t been marinated or anything just stuck in it the sauce. Not good. I didn’t think the meat was good quality either. Shame that was our last meal in NYC.
We left on Wed.
So that was this time in NY. Good food and bad food. Next time my aims are to try more pizza, more brunch recommended places (breakfast/brunch pretty much proved our downfall!), RGR’s Lower East Side tour and also more desserts. Thanks again for all the recommendations, I’ve saved them all and quite a few lists too – all ready for my next visit.
Totally agree - please search before positing.
My two cents: Get an 2-3 antipasti, split 4-5 pastas and split 2 secondi. The best of the best:
Antipasti: warm tripe, lamb's tongue vinaigrette, pig's foot Milanese
Primi: mint love letters, goat cheese tortellini, goose liver ravioli, beef cheek ravioli, pumpkin lune
Secondi: pork chop, sweetbreads
Dolci: fruit crostata
re: david sprague
re: david sprague
I've had both and found the pork chop sublime. The best or second best pork chop I've ever eaten. I brought the bone home to gnaw off the last remnants of meat and even considered using it for stock or to flavor beans.
I find many of the dishes that are truly excellent at Babbo are a little "adventurous sounding" for some, even if the dishes themselves are well within most American eater's comfort zone. But only those with aversions to eating pork would be turned off by this dish, so I find myself recommending the pork chop (and mint love letters) most frequently.
The lamb chop was very good preparation, but it didn't blow me away. Lamb is also more seasonal and, even though Babbo can always get good cuts, the best lamb (for chops at least) is typically butchered and served in late summer / early fall. Pork isn't quite so seasonal.
This has been discussed many times before. Search is your friend.
What to order at Babbo
Don't Leave NY Without Eating...
I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour:
Best Dessert: There are so many! NYC is a pretty big cake, cupcake, and composed dessert town. Not quite so big a pie or donut town. There are also some dessert bar (Chikalicious) and nouveau/experimental dessert options (WD-50, Tailor).
Best chocolate chip cookies
Best hot chocolate
Manhattan chocolate tour
Desserts at sit down restaurants and dessert bars:
Actually Kathryn, I think that you are my friend rather than search!! Would've taken me ages to find all of these threads, thanks for making it so easy by pinpointing what I need. These look amazing, I've had a quick read and love the posts of a213b who is on a "business" trip - sounds to me like the business is eating and also RGR's walking food tour. I also am enticed by this food cart, although I dont think my dad would be all that impressed by my dragging him around town to find that, might save it for another visit!
Anyway amazing, thanks again for these. Making me hungry..although its breakfast time here rather than dinner!
You're welcome! Yes, a213b's reports are pretty great.
peppermonkey also had a very interesting trip report too:
Have a fantastic trip! And don't forget that you can easily look up menus on menupages.com. (I'd also jot down hours and phone numbers, and whether or not they're cash only, as some visitors to NYC are surprised by that.)
Many thanks again for pointing me in the direction, I'm sure it is annoying when newbies ask the same questions again and again but you've been really helpful. Really cant wait for my trip to NY, and especially Babbo. Will let you know how I get on and whether our opinions concur! Now to get reading all these great threads...its like Alice in Wonderland, one leads to another and another and another!!