Del Posto

Old Mar 15th, 2009, 12:38 PM
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Del Posto

Last night we went to Del Posto for a celebratory dinner. It was a very good meal, not great, with an extraordinary price. The restaurant rises like a palazzo in the meatpacking district just below the weedy corpse of the highline and there are reminders of Italian pretense everywhere. You drop off your coat at the Guardaroba. Actually I become concerned because I thought I was once arrested by them. Across is the ascensore. We ate on the balcony which we ascended gingerly since there was no escalator(ito). The friendly and numerous staff were knowledgeable and attentive but not intrusive or fawning. Only one person had a glass of wine and, when someone in our group made a comment about it, the second assistant sommelier gave her a little taste. One friend had a Dubonnet, which turned out to be $20.

The amuse bouche, ( I am sorry I do not remember the Italian phrase they used) included a dollop of a barley/ chocolate soup which was more intriguing than satisfying. There is a variety of homemade breads which were good and the focaccia exceptional. It was accompanied by butter and lardo, which is crushed pork fat, garlic, butter, and salt cured for 6 months. Ours I think was only cured for five months. The savory lardo was a foil to the sweet butter; once again it was more intriguing than satisfying.

Del Posto only allows the tasting menu if all everyone at the table acquiesces. (The Mussolini factor.) For $95 a person, you get an antipasto, exactly two tastes of pasta, secondo, e dolci. For antipastos, we opted for the mozzarella with beets, sunchokes with walnuts, lobster salad fra diavola, and goose liver with figs. (I asked for a copy of the menu, so I could report with accuracy.) Far and way the best dish was the lobster with its different flavors.

We passed the plates around the table, as if it were the Italian version of speed dating. We were allowed two pastas to taste and we chose the ravioli with black truffle butter and oreccchiette with lamb’s neck sausage, carrots, and caraway. While the three ravioli looked lonely on the plate, the best dish of the evening was the orecchiette. The different flavors blended well for an excellent result.

For the main courses, we ordered Arctic chard, wild striped bass, duck, and cacciuccio, an Italian bouillabaisse. None were outstanding. They, of course, were well prepared but none were memorable.

For desserts, we chose the chocolate ricotta tortino with olive oil, torta with parsnip gelato and a buckwheat crepe with pumpkin, apple, and crème fraiche. These were the highlights of the meal. The chocolate ricotta was rich and creamy. There had been some debate on whether we would survive the parsnip gelato but the final decision was a firm “What the hell.” The parsnip flavor was delicate and the torta was delectable. The buckwheat crespelle could have been the best with a perfect compliment of ingredients.

The check is an 8 x 10 piece of paper. And as the restaurant filled, we felt like it was more of an eviction notice. (Cheap joke, the staff was implacable and never rushed us.)

We have eaten at Lupa ( a few times), Casa Mono (a few times), and Esca but not Babbo. This is best restaurant of his at which we eaten and clearly the most expensive. Mario Batali remains an over-rated and over-extended chef in New York. The press has reported that the restaurant cost $10 million to open and they tried to cover the nut in one night. Of course, we did not see Mario Batali roaming the halls, but I was grateful for I was fearful he would be wearing his customary AC/DC shorts and orange crocs.
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 01:35 PM
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Aduchamp1 - i think I just decided to enjoy your review (so nicely written btw) rather than ever dine at Del Posto. In that price range, I want memorable. It also sounds a little bit too pretentious for me which Babbo and Esca are not. I can't imagine your tab if everyone had had cocktails and wine. Btw, we had a celebratory dinner on Friday and the best part (besides not picking up the tab) was that Hugh Jackman was at the next table!

Happy Celebration!
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 01:49 PM
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Thank you for the compliments.

I am glad you had nice celebration. One question, does Hugh Jackman eat with his mouth open?
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 02:15 PM
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Better to see all those straight white teeth!
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 04:04 PM
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I couldn't agree more with you Aduchamp about your take on Batalli. I enjoyed your review of Del Posto.
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 04:42 PM
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Thanks Andrews 8. I have an acquaintance who is a buddy of Batali and tells me Batali is s genius and that I misjudge him.

We all have our defintions of genius and mine usually revolve around theory, the arts, and invention that is mechanical, societal, or otherwise.
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 05:07 PM
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and the best part (besides not picking up the tab) was that Hugh Jackman was at the next table!

Oh my god....the food is secondary!
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 05:14 PM
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Aduchamp1 - forgive me for the highjack!
Jean-Georges Vongerichten was chatting with us, but FLED (as in he dumped us) when he saw HJ and ran to his table. How do you like that? Meanwhile HJ is GORGEOUS!!!
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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Not a problem. This is not the first time I have been tossed aside for Hugh Jackman.
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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You are so gracious! (not to mention too funny!)
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 06:53 PM
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Warren, I agree with you about Del Posto. Good, not great, and very expensive. At least the music (usually live piano) isn't deafening, as at Babbo. And, you can dine at Del Posto more moderately in their cafe to the left of the door as you enter. Still, in all, it's one of those places we'd return to only if asked, especially considering the City has so many other choices.
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 06:56 PM
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Querido Sen~or Adu-I am intrigued by several of your phrases. For example, "more intriguing than satifsfying' and "Well prepared but none were memorable". I have a hypothesis. It is this. Many people, esp. posters on boards like chowhound, eat in so many good places that somewhere along the line the dishes served top out at a level of excellence above which no chef nor restaurant can improve it or "top it". So even if it's a place w/ a great rep. we taste and say "good/great, but doesn't knock me off my chair"> In other words, maybe, we are spoiled. I hope I have explained myself.
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 07:15 PM
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Centralparkgirl-
Fisrt I was discared like ribbish for that Brad fellow, now it is this Jackman clown. I am sure I will be humiliated again in the future by someone who is still grade school.

Bspielman-
And if asked, I would be assured that they were paying.

Sobster
It is quite possible we are spoiled. But, for me at least, as the price rises, so does the expectation. We eat like this once a year and otheerwise seek meals that offer value and quality. There I more forgiving.

I do not post on chowhound. I find only half the people know of what they speak.

I have posted a list elsewhere on these boards of inexpensive restaurants to which we enjoy returning. They are clearly not fine dining but in many ways more satisfying.

I know that does not directly address your hypothesis but I hope it clarifies how I approach restaurants.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 02:49 AM
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Been looking forward to your report as Del Posto was at the top of my wish list .. now it will have to be w/a benefactor!

Centralparkgirl - ah, you are one lucky wench!!!
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 03:19 AM
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Thanks for the review. I haven't been to Del Posto yet but several friends also agree that it is rather expensive which detracts from the food, which they agreed was very good. In addition, I was advised to go there for business lunch/dinners because the palce is so big.
As for Batali - I like his restaurants a lot. I'm one of those who's a fan of Babbo, Lupa, Esca etc. I give Batali credit for taking Italian to a new level in NYC... he started many years ago & while there are several other very good chefs today, I still credit him for raising the bar earlier than most others.
Casa Mono was the same. As early as 6 years ago, it was impossible to find good Spanish food/tapas in NY. While Casa Mono is expensive & has several non-traditional dishes, it still raised the bar significantly... introducing NYers to refined Spanish food as well as non-Rioja wines & so on.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 03:26 AM
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And just to clarify, Casa mono is not my fav Spanish in the city now. There are several newer spots like Boqueria, Tia Pol, etc. which do a great job... but again, Casa Mono was early on the scene & I suspect that there are more NYers (who hadn't been to Spain) that appreciate Spanish food today than they did before Casa Mono did its bit.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 04:41 AM
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Casa Mono is far too fussy to consider itself tapas resaturant. I find rather go on a tasca crawl in San Sebastian where I find superior Spanish cooking.

When we want to introduce someone to tapas as close to the way it is done we go Xunta. Tia Pol is quite good with a blend of tarditional and experimental as Bar Carerra. We are behind in testing Boqueria and a few of the others.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 07:56 AM
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Appreciate your insights, Aduchamp. And I agree; nicely written. Wonder if you (or anyone else) might have some advice for me!

My wife and I will be in NYC next week, chaperoning a bunch of high schoolers, but can probably break away for one decent meal, most likely a lunch. We've been to Lupa (geez.... over six years ago, now), and thought we'd try Babbo, but probably can't fit it into our schedule (or it fit us in). So we're now thinking Casa Mono... or Lupa again. Doesn't have to be Batali, but he's a known, and we do like the style of his restaurants and food, which kind of matches our Pacific Northwest casual preferences. Anything to recommend? In the mean time, I'm off to check out Esca.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 08:01 AM
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Great restaurant review Aduchamp1. your review was pretty much in line with my thoughts. we have dined there twice and I don't think we will ever go back. It was very good, not amazing, and teh prices were out of control for what you get.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 09:20 AM
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Thank you all your compliments.

Beachbum-
You will limited somewhat by eating your decent meal for lunch. Others will jump me I am sure but here a few.

Tia Pol( in lieu of Casa Mono)-small tapas restaurant with traditional dishes and wonderful experiemtts like chorizo with chocolate. Beyond casual.

I Coppi-genuine Tuscan fare wehre they bake their own bread in the traditional manner without salt

Balthazar-I have other favorite French bistros but they are not open for lunch. Bistro fare includes moules frites, steak frites and their bakery is exceptional. Casual and moderately priced.

Aquavit Cafe-wonderful scandavian food with a light touch. One of our favorite palces.
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