Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Siren Song of Danny Meyer

"Where should we go for dinner?" How often is this question answered with a Danny Meyer restaurant? Out of the last 4 dinners I've eaten in Manhattan, the answer is 3.

Last night ye oldest friend and I called an audible on dinner and decided at 6:00pm that we would meet in front of Tabla at 6:30 and if they could seat us, terrific, if not, we'd check out A Voce and, failing, that, walk over to Blue Smoke (a 66% Meyer favoritism from the get-go). The Bread Bar had availability and we had our decision made for us.

The waiter recognized me, which is only slightly surprising given it was three weeks earlier that he last served me. Ye oldest friend (YOF) had only ever eaten upstairs before so this was his maiden voyage, compelling me to strongly suggest the onion rings

Oh Boodie's ketchup, how I adore you, dream of you, think, actually, that I have the recipe for you in Floyd Cardoz's book, One Spice, Two Spice - must investigate that tonight. What I mean to say is that I find the onion rings a necessary component of any Bread Bar meal.

Though, as inflamed as my passions become when I muse on Boodie's, the dish I long for when I am all the way uptown, far away from any decent grub, is the lamb "naanini."

Let's be frank: there is no way for a sane human to not get hyper over a sandwich of lamb and mashed potato. i cannot live in a world where this is not a universal good. But when the lamb is so tender and flavorful, the mashed potato so spiced with mustard, and the naan - here I must just admit that I have a naan problem and be done with it - so bready and wonderful.

YOF wanted a salad, something I am eternally teasing him about as I consider salads to be a waste of stomach space that could be filled with meat or bread, and we got the radish and cucumber Dhabba salad which was, I grudgingly admit, quite good.

YOF also was thrilled by the Saag Paneer Pizza which was a first time selection for me and one I don't know if I'd order again simply because I am not a super spinach fan and longed for something tomato-ey in my pizza - the crust, however, was spot on.

We together decided to order the Pork Vindaloo, a dish I think might be new as I don't recall seeing it before or, rather more accurately, cannot believe I would have seen it before and not ordered it. While not as spicy, surprisingly, as the naanini, the pork had been cooked so long and so well as to be absolutely flavor-saturated, the fat was rich and smooth and so not good for me. I apologize to my fellow diners that I was the uncouth loutess who dipped my forkfuls of pork back into the dish to get more juices.

That was wrong of me.

There was sourdough naan and mustard seed corn naan and apple, tamarind, and mint chutney (ok, maybe I also dream of the mint chutney - the apple chutney, a seasonal addition, was killer and I definitely want to make some). In short, we over-ordered. This was much appreciated later by the man of the house who dug into our leftovers with gusto - he too has a potentially damaging addiction to lamb naaninis.

I offered the donuts to YOF as they are a signature, but he allows me to choose the Saffron Poached Pears:

Chai tea was poured into the shallow dish which imparted a wonderful spiciness but did create some unanticipated sogginess in the crust beneath the pears. The pears themselves were nice, but the star of the dish was the pear sorbet which was unbelievable (note to self - also make pear sorbet this weekend).

All in all, yet another amazingly satisfying meal at the Bread Bar. I'd like to say I'll be able to stay away, but I'm fairly certain we have plans with an out of towner in a week or so and she mentioned she'd never been to Tabla...

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