Celebration Number Two – Spoon, Knork, Spork, Olive Fork, Olive Spoon, and Cake Fork were gathered with Fork for Birthday Celebration 2 at Barbuto. Barbuto is owned by the colorful and talented chef, Jonathan Waxman, author of A Great American Cook and the soon to be published Italian My Way.
Again, pardon the pictures. Far too much celebrating to have been paying attention! They looked great at the time! Perhaps it was the Cosmopolitans!
Barbuto is located in at the south end of the meatpacking district in a converted warehouse and garage. The space is definitely what you would call industrial chic. In the warmer months the garage doors are rolled up for outside dining and better people watching.
It’s loud and vivacious. It’s funky and chic. It’s welcoming and fun. There is a private dining room and a chef’s table in the kitchen for parties of 8 or more. Seems like a lot of fun, maybe next time!
There were so many people and so many choices! The menu is local and changed almost daily depending on what is fresh and available.
For starters both Fork and Spoon ordered the Polenta with Wild Mushrooms. We were going to share but then we started eying each other in that mischievous I don’t want to share way and ended up ordering 2 portions. And what a good decision that was! The polenta was soft and creamy, the mushrooms were just delectable. They had earthiness and a meatiness and a certain wonderful tang. This was the perfect beginning to a fabulous meal.
Knork had soup. Knork doesn’t share. But Spoon ignores this irksome habit and just eats right off Knork’s plate with a smile. Knork wasn’t sitting close enough to me to see what kind of soup was had, his tines are little bent and he can’t remember much! We know it was a vegetable soup. We know he was quiet for quite some time so he must have enjoyed it immensely!
Spork on the other hand loves to share. Spork loves to share because Spork wants everyone to share in return! Spork shares so much one of the crostini were missing before I could take a photo. Spork ordered the crostini of the day, which on this day was with pureed butternut squash. A sprinkling of grated cheese and a drizzle of balsamic made this the perfect few bites to start off.
Olive Fork and Olive Spoon shared an appetizer of beets, black forbidden rice, frisee and grated dry goat cheese. This was really yummy. The forbidden rice had a nice texture, slighty crispy, slightly chewy. The beets were tiny and nicely roasted. The dressing was light and unobtrusive. Really refreshing and delicious.
If you want bread, you have to ask for it. A little strange. Then again, the iced tea, while very good, was not bottomless. Fork and Spoon will never understand how $1 (maybe) of iced tea can cost a diner $12.00!
Now, the main course is so much easier. Fork, Spoon and Olive Fork had the infamous Pollo al Forno - roasted JW chicken with salsa verde. Yes, we’ve all had roasted chicken before, but I guarantee you have never had roasted chicken like this! Crispy, salty skin, moist tender 1/2 chicken that you are more than happy to take home what you cannot finish. THe salsa verde was a nice compliment to the chicken. The chicken is roasted in one of the brick ovens to absolute perfection. Again, we could have shared, but friendships would have ended over the sharing! This chicken alone is reason enough to eat at Barbuto!
Spork had Lumachine - a shape almost like a shell, almost like an elbow, but not quite. The Lumachine was served with a fantastic sauce of roasted cauliflower and cream. Rich, creamy and delicate all at the same time.
Guess what Knork ordered? Steak. How’s that for a surprise. We go to a place with a signature dish and Knork will have anything but that dish. The hanger steak was beautiful. Perfectly cooked. Perfectly seasoned. Nice sized steak. The steak was served with grilled radicchio. Imagine the bitterness of radicchio with a smokey char. Delish!
Olive Spoon ordered the Lamb Loin. The lamb was served over a rutabega puree. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was good. Quite frankly, everything was over the moon good!
Potatoes. We need to seriously discuss the potatoes. The name should be changed to Crack Potatoes. Totally amazing. So amazing in fact, that while eating them and fighting over the plate, we ordered more. Fortunately for me, Spoon is generous soul and let me have what was left on the first plate – while ordering the second, mind you – because it was my birthday. The Patate are first boiled, then smashed a bit and then deep fried. Oh, no, that isn’t all, they are sprinkled with salt and pepper and grated pecorino cheese and rosemary. They are totally amazing.
We also had a side of wilted greens with garlic and chilis and roasted brussel sprouts with hazelnuts and colatura. Colatura, or garum colatura, is an ancient Italian condiment – for lack of a better word. It’s made from fermenting fatty fish like anchovies or sardines. The fish is layered in with herbs and salt and left to ferment. The end result is a golden liquid used to give an oh so subtle je ne sais quoi to the brussel sprouts. Fork is not a fan of the brussel sprout, but these were pretty good. The wilted greens were just sautéed quickly so they were still bright and green and still had a texture to them, lotsa garlic and a nice hint of chilis.
(apparently, Cake Fork is under the impression that I have to taste EVERYTHING in order to write about it. Does Cake Fork not understand WHY I eat with other people!)
The Bomba. Now doesn’t that look like the perfect cake for a birthday Fork to enjoy! And, again, thank you dear Cutlery for not singing! Dense, fabulous chocolate cake sandwiched a wonderful cherry semifreddo. Pistachios, cherries, whipped cream and a candle. I could gush and gush and gush about this dessert, but words simply cannot describe this! I was seriously hard pressed to share this, but Spork gave me that puppy look and there went a spoonful! We won’t even discuss the quick spooned Spoon!
Spoon had the Apple Crostata. Spoon will have an apple anything! Wonderful flakey crust coupled with tender caramel-y apples. Always being one to gild the lily, Spoon asked to swap out the vanilla ice cream for maple ice cream. Really good dessert. Really good ice cream.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding. This was our least favorite dessert. Though I am not a big pumpkin fan, Olive Fork is a big pumpkin fan. The comment from the Olive Fork was that it was too light in flavor and too dry. Personally, this Fork thinks pumpkin is for the birds!
Both Knork and Spork had Affogato. They too opted to switch out the vanilla ice cream for maple. Affogato quite literally means drowned. A scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over the top. Heaven in a cup!
I, for one, Chef Waxman, am happy that you put down the trombone and picked up a chef’s knife!
Thanks you Spoon and Knork and Spork and Olive Spoon and Olive Fork and Cake Fork for sharing my birthday with me! It was the perfect celebration!