Bar Basque

Thanks for all the emails and twitters last night to the people who caught me on Top Chef.  Definitely strange to see yourself on TV but what I really got a kick out of is the people who sent me emails.  Now I know who watches Top Chef…that weekly pleasure.  My dining partners were Dana Cowin, Amanda Hesser and Ben Leventhal.  It was really a fun evening. 

I went to Bar Basque for dinner last night with two women that I always end up getting together with at the last minute.  It seems to work for us and the more we get together the better we get to know each other.  Lots of curtains come down when three women have dinner.  Really nice.  Wish I could say as much for the food we ate.

I want Bar Basque to be good.  The space is a bit over the top with lots of different areas to eat, relax or have a drink.  The area of 28th and Sixth is in need of a place to eat.  An easy walk to Madison Square Garden or even over to Fifth Avenue. 

Croquettes
The menu is too big, not only physically but way too many choices.  Maybe if they zeroed in on less options the food would rise to the top.  Some things were good while others just didn't hit the spot.  We had an array of things to share starting with croquettes.  Cheese, mushroom and cod.  Well done, light and crispy.  Really not my thing. 

Cheese
The cheese plate was a nice balance of different flavors and I liked the touch of honey.  Could be a good place to go for just cheese and jambons.

Jambon
This jambon was really delicious.  Not sure which one is was because there are a variety of choices.

Shrimp
One of the small appetizers is the shrimp dish.  This was one of the better dishes.  Spicy chick peas and shrimp.  Light, spicy and well done.

Friedravioli
Fried ravioli is supposedly the thing to order but I wouldn't.  Deconstructed ravioli.  Braised oxtail meat wrapped in a thin noodle that is crispy.  Just not that interesting.  The meat had no flavor and nothing worked.

Wholefish
We had ordered a beet salad which never appeared.  That is not a good sign.  For our main course we split a whole grilled fish.  There is an entire area on the menu that is devoted to grilled food.  This fish was quite good.  Well prepared and served with spicy mixed peppers.  We all kept going back to this dish.

Spinach
Spicy sauteed spinach was also good although heavy on the oil and the spice was in some mouthfuls but not others.  There was definitely garlic in here but I didn't taste it and it didn't haunt me all night. 

Rice
Risotto mixed with chanterelles and tomatoes was tasty.  Lots of flavor, not too heavy and the right combo of flavors.

Fish:clams
This monfish just didn't work.  It was cooked right but it was just a strange dish.  Shaped like a mound sitting on top of a circle of potatoes with clams on the side.   I couldn't figure this dish out. 

Dessert
The best thing was the dessert.  This tasted like a crispy French toast served with a nutty vanilla ice cream.  I kept nibbling on this. 

I am not racing back but if I was in the neighborhood, I'd probably stop by the bar and get a few things to try it again.  I want Bar Basque to work.  The decor is trying to be too chic but it really comes off as a bit tacky.  The concept is there but they just need to not think so big.  Take it down a notch, everywhere, and Bar Basque could work. 

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