Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New York: Ribot

We finished wrapping up our show late this evening and in somewhat poor spirits. Instead of seeking out good eats with my co-worker, we went our separate ways and I was ready for a good meal and new find. My concierge suggested a visit to nearby Ribot.

The decor was tasteful and chic. I had been expecting greek / mediterranean food and it wasn't exactly in that niche, but the menu's selections were winsome and innovative. Making up my mind about what to order turned out to be quite a challenge. In the end, I started my meal with the organic beet salad, baked goat cheese and mache. The beets were sliced thinly and tasted as if they had been marinated in an aged balsamic vinaigrette. The texture of the goat cheese reminded me of fried green tomatoes and the mache rounded out the tanginess of the chevre and the sweetness of the beets with a slight savory peppered note.

I struggled between choosing the black pepper pappardelle with lamb ragu, mint and lemon, or the pumpkin risotto with mascarpone, house-cured pancetta, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In the end, I settled on the risotto, glad that the rice had been cooked long enough, since a risotto dish I'd had earlier this week in Las Vegas found the arborio rice to be crunchy beyond al dente. The pumpkin risotto had a great depth of flavor to it with the spices lending an interesting note to the pancetta, which completed the dish through its crunchy outside and soft inside, the needed saltiness. Creamier than most, the mascarpone lended an edge to the risotto making it sing.

I ended the meal with the Vahlrona warm chocolate cake and caramelized bananas. Why is it that volcano cakes or warm chocolate cakes are so hard to perfect? They're either not warm enough and so the expected ooze from the center never materializes or their flavor lacks depth, which is what happened here. It sounded good; it looked amazing but in the end, the cake was merely okay. I am becoming skeptical about desserts when the savory selections turn out to be fantastic.

The service is a totally different matter. I waited at the door for a little while, not knowing who was the host. The restaurant had a few tables sat, so that wasn't the reason for the absence. The host ended up taking my order and I never quite knew who my waiter was. The water attendent was attentive and I kept thinking I wish I could leave him the tip. Once my risotto was taken away, I waited an interminable amount of time, expecting someone to ask if I wanted to view the dessert menu. One host was schmoozing at a seventop and the other had been chatting with a two-top close by. I kept wondering if this had anything to do with the fact that I was dining alone. When the server finally came by, after attempts at indirect communication that I was ready, he asked, "You don't want coffee, tea or dessert do you?" I was somewhat stunned- how presumptuous!

After I finished my dessert, he did not clue in that I was ready for the bill until the water attendant, upon filling up my glass was informed to relay the message to the server. He tried too late in the meal to actually serve my needs. I rarely leave 10% but tonight I wanted to prove a point. Excellent food; biased service.

* PRICE: $$$-$$$$
* SERVICE: Mixed up
* GROUP FRIENDLY: Great for groups or one-on-ones