One of the things that I realize I haven’t done much since I’ve started this blog was discuss my experiences dining out. I hesitate to discuss my experiences at restaurants becuase I really value the notion of opinon and although critiques can be helpful, what is good to me, may not be good to you. However, with so many places to try, a little guidance and previous accounts can be extremely helpful. The other reason I haven’t blogged much about these experiences is that despite the endless options of restaurants in New York, I don’t really go out to eat much. There are a number of reasons, one being financial, but that is not to say I can’t afford a nice meal out once in a while. The issue really stems from my idea of what a meal out should be. What’s the point of going to a nice place and immediately searching for the cheapest thing on the menu? Or not taking advantage of an amazing wine list because you know you can get the same bottle for half the price at the liquor store? Dining out isn’t just about the food or just about the service or decor, its about the total package. The front of the house is just as important as the kitchen and when things go well, everyone deserves the praise. That is what your paying for and that has never bothered me (although if you ask my checking account, it might tell you otherwise).
Last night, for the first time in a while, I had an overall fantastic dining experience. My brother and sister in law had recently given me a gift certificate to one of Mario Batali’s restaurants, Otto, and having heard really good things, I was really excited to use it. With fiscal freedom in hand, I browsed the menu of pizzas and pastas struggling to make up my mind. I decided instead to tackle the selection of wine only to find the wine list was triple the number of pages of the menu. An amazing selection of Italian wines, validated by the delicious and affordable Montepulciano that really complimented our meal. Our food choices were as well delicious (especially the roasted beet appetizer and the clam pizza) and I was extremely impressed with the portions. I’ve never been a believer that more means better. I don’t want to feel jipped but I also don’t need to walk away from the table in a coma. A healthy balance is ideal. As we finished our food and sipped on our last little bit of wine, it seemed only right to stay a bit longer, try a dessert and keep the experience going. The duo of gelato (milk chocolate chip and creme fraiche) along with a brittle and caramel cream was the perfect way to end what was not only a delicious meal but a terrific night out. I really want to go back and try more and being that on a Tuesday night the place was packed, I’m probably not the only one who has felt this way.
Thanks Steve and Nat!