Monday, November 24, 2008

babbo for the biggie

The missus is finally catching up to me. She turned 30 years young yesterday, which makes her exactly as old as the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” and the Bee Gee’s “Night Fever.” Oh, also, “How Deep Is Your Love,” by the Bee Gee’s.

I decided I’d like to take her to a fancy pants “celebrity” restaurant for her big three-oh. Being the foody that she is, I gave her four options: Chef Mario Batali’s Babbo, Chef Gordon Ramsay’s creatively titled, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Chef Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak, or Chef Anthony Bourdain’s Brasserie Le Halles. We went with Babbo.

After a minor annoyance with a snooty maitre d’ (turns out sometimes "sir" means "sir," and other times "sir" means "dickhead"), we took a seat, flopped open our menus, and rubbed our hands together in anticipation.

Though I have to admit, the menu was slightly intimidating at first. On the first page alone, you’ll find tripe, pig's foot, and warm lamb’s tongue. Just when I start to think I’m a pretty open-minded dude, I read a menu offering me lamb’s brain francobolli, and I find myself dreaming of Chef Boyardee.

Luckily, there were plenty of normal options to choose from. We began with a bottle of Chianti, an outstanding arugula salad, and a ridiculously tasty plate of grilled artichokes. This was followed by a slightly slow-to-arrive, though perfectly prepared plate of bucatini all’amatriciana, which we shared. For our main courses, I got braised beef with porcini mushrooms, and Crissy got pumpkin ravioli in a butter sage sauce, which was incredible. For dessert, we shared a chocolate hazelnut cake that was so maddeningly delicious Crissy rammed a switchblade into the table.

For entertainment, we sat close to a tallish, well-to-do man in his 70’s with a hip shaved head and a sharp suit, who was out to dinner with his 30 something raven-haired granddaughter. Or so we thought, until their conversation turned to his private jet and the fact that his wife didn’t suspect a thing. When Crissy overhead the term “premature ejaculation” cross the man’s lips, we stuck our fingers in our ears and sang the national anthem to avoid spewing two fancy birthday dinners all over the table.

We left Babbo incredibly happy and satisfied, and headed out to a bar in midtown to meet up with a few friends, including our friend Kurt, who was back in town to hang out and introduce us to his new squeeze.

Several birthday tequila shots later, Crissy’s auto-dance button was switched on and accidentally broken off, rendering her incapable of not dancing the remainder of the night at a bar where nobody else was dancing. We stuck around until a little after 1 a.m., at which point the old lady danced her ass out the door, danced her way into a cab, danced while she brushed her teeth, and danced her ass right into passing out, which is the only way to override a malfunctioning auto-dance button.

Happy Birthday, Lou.

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