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Del Posto. Ouch!

gavspen Nov 2, 2009 02:57 PM

Now, I'm no Escoffier, but I do consider myself pretty good at rattlin' the old pots and pans. Bastille day is even an excuse for a slap up do around our house. We dont, however, eat out in fancy pants restaurants all that much, and one of the reasons, according to my wife, God bless her, is that the food is frequently a disappointment compared to what we get at home. In our way we are foodies though, (I get teased relentlessly for being a food network fan) so it was with much anticipation that we headed off to a charity dinner at Del Posto a week or so ago. Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich are going to cook for us. This is going to be sensational, right? Wrong. Really, really wrong.

Cocktail hour. I love this part. All those toothsome little niblets one after the other, it's practically a tasting menu, and the first thing I spot is a deep fried risotto ball. Now how can that be bad? I'll tell you how; dump a whole bucket of salt into the mix and dont bother to taste it before you send it out. I'm not talking a bit to salty, this is just awful, and the fact that no one caught this seems like a serious quality control issue. Other lesser disappointments included minute undercooked shrimp, and the usual assortment of microscopic servings of, say, tuna tartare perched pretentiously on the edge of a potato chip. Where's a pig in a blanket and a bowl of whole grain dijon when you need it?

We take our seats and are served a fairly good but not outstanding raviolo, an ok salad that should have been hanging on the wall (dont get me wrong; I like presentation, I just like taste better) and now we're into the main course; steak or fish. I go for the "seared halibut". Now, we all know what a sear is. I'm expecting a lovely browned, er, I mean, caramelized piece of fish, a little bit of crunch on the outside, soft and succulent inside. What I get is more like boiled, and what's more, it should have been boiled for a couple more minutes. It's also unsauced and tasteless, watery in some odd way, and very badly in need of some of the salt that went into the risotto balls. Too bad, there are no salt or pepper shakers on the tables. Dessert was entirely forgettable. I mean it; I've forgotten what it was.

I go to a few of these kind of things and have some appreciation of the difficulties of serving up decent hot grub to 200 people all at the same time. I frankly expect spotty food at, say, Cipriani's, but at a real restaurant, especially one this size, isnt serving up decent hot grub to 200 people an essential part of the job description? Cipriani's, it turns out, does it better. The next night we ate in. Spaghetti Bolognese; delicious.

Del Posto
85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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  1. tastyeating RE: gavspen Nov 3, 2009 12:05 PM

    I've been to Del Posto for lunch. And although my experience was much better than yours in terms of taste, it didn't warrant the $80 bill afterward. I was still hungry after my main course of 3 agnolotti's on my dish. I say skip it too.

    Del Posto
    85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

    1. c
      copyrighter RE: gavspen Nov 3, 2009 01:13 PM

      I've given up on the whole Batali empire. Babbo has become a joke, in my opinion, certainly not worth even a quarter of the time and effort it takes to secure a 5:30pm reservation. A month from now. *sigh*

      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      1 Reply
      1. re: copyrighter
        captainspacefood RE: copyrighter Nov 3, 2009 03:01 PM

        Agreed. Babbo was severely underwhelming for my entire table last time I went.

        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      2. k
        Katie Spencer RE: gavspen Nov 6, 2009 03:17 PM

        Ouch indeed. I have long been a fan of Mario Batali because of the Food Network, although I have never actually had the pleasure of eating at any of his restaurants. I was thinking of asking for a special trip to Babbo's for my birthday, but I think I may have to reconsider...

        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

        2 Replies
        1. re: Katie Spencer
          david sprague RE: Katie Spencer Nov 6, 2009 04:18 PM

          i still think babbo and lupa are worth the trouble and the trip. del posto has always struck me as an afterthought to all concerned -- on the basis of two disappointing visits and a couple of underwhelming reports. not sure what the disconnect is, but there definitely seems to be one.

          1. re: david sprague
            pups224 RE: david sprague Jan 15, 2010 03:45 AM

            I ate at Del Posto for the first time recently. We were a party of ten.
            I will not go back even if I do not have to pay.
            The first impression is of a glitzy, cold, marble mausoleum with hookers at the bar, a ton of tourists and expense account types.
            The second was the dourness of the wait and service staff. No joy at all. It was as if Joe Bastianich was standing in the kitchen with a cat o'nine tails, ready to strike. These guys were scared. Where is Danny Meyer when you need him.
            Then the food. The amuse were so salty that I took a bite/sip and left it. My app of clams and artichokes had zero flavor of clams. The pupkin ravioli was nice and flavorsome, but we just got two. Pasta Bolognese was a total bore and again, a tiny portion. Where's the beef, man? This dish should zing!
            Main of a veal chop for two was a great piece of meat, but so salty...and the veggies of cavolo nero and er mushrooms? Same as the clams. Zero flavor. How do you kill kale and mushrooms.
            Desert was tartuffo. Nice. That's it. Wine pairing was very good.
            Dinner took forever, 3.5 hours for five courses. Half an hour wait between main course and desert. Coffee was served before desert. Where in Italy is that done?

            To sum up: This was a joyless, plodding experience without a standout dish in the whole line up.
            For me it's back to Convivio or Locanda Verde.

            Del Posto
            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

        2. e
          edwardspk RE: gavspen Jan 15, 2010 10:02 AM

          I have to agree with David Sprague. Babbo and Lupa are both definitely worth the trouble. So is Esca, even Otto. But Del Posto is missing the boat. Although it's intended to be his flagship restaurant, it has underwhelmed me several times. But please don't write off all his other restaurants just because of this one -- you'll miss out on some good food.

          Katie, do go to Babbo for your birthday and order the Pasta Tasting menu. I promise you will not be disappointed.

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