Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hey, Brooklyn! Don't let my Baba die.

Dinner at Baba

I don't like taking photos of my meal in restaurants. I don't want to be "that blogger" when I'm eating out. I don't want to disturb other diners, call attention to myself, annoy the staff, or delay my own eating. Plus, the light's usually too dim (and I would sooner perish than use flash in a restaurant). But my desire to avoid restaurant photography creates only a guideline, not a prohibition.

I took the above picture midway through my first dinner at Baba because I knew I'd have to write a blog post about it. No one else was eating there that night, at least during the course of our meal, and I got worried. The food is too good and the staff too friendly (and it's too conveniently located) for it not to survive.

Initially, I was a little unsure about the place. I took a sewing class there last year, back when it was a boutique called Maiden Hong Kong, and I felt loyal to MHK's owner and identity. I was sad when MHK closed its doors, and only somewhat cheered up when I heard that "a cheese shop" was moving in. But Baba didn't shut down Maiden Hong Kong, and I do like cheese, so how could I penalize this lovely little restaurant/cheese shop/specialty grocery?

I say it's part grocery, but that's not a large part. The few shelves with dry goods don't take long to browse. We went for dinner, and I fell deeply for the food and the friendly staff. Someone cooked me a chicken leg torchon, which was like moist medallions of meat sauteed in something wonderful (I'm guessing butter) until crispy on top. I also had a heavenly polenta (again, crispy on top) and some bitter chicory sauteed with garlic. Dan ate pork with burst grapes and something-else-that-I-didn't-pay-much-attention-to-because-my-food-was-so-good. I really think the chef must love cooking. And eating. And me.

The prices are perhaps a touch high for the neighborhood, but the food was so charming, and cooked with such evident care, that I want Baba to survive and thrive. I want to make it a neighborhood joint. I could realize my dreams of becoming a "regular" here, with a little time and care. But I need you to help me.

So, please eat there. I mean, don't go crazy (I'd like to be able to get a table without an overlong wait), but if you're in the neighborhood you've probably been to Dumont a hundred times already. Think before you retrace your footsteps to another "same old" place. Try something new! Preferably this something new. And then tell me all about what you ate and what you think about what you ate.

Baba is at the intersection of Powers and Lorimer, just so you know, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you're not in the neighborhood, but you can get to the G or L train easily, I suggest you take one of those subway lines to the Lorimer/Metropolitan stop and then walk over to get dinner (or meat or cheese, if you're not that hungry) at Baba. Let's all do what we can so I can keep eating there.

p.s. As this blog post went to press, Baba waitstaff were in the habit of distributing strong, chewy, tiny licorice drops at the conclusion of each meal. Remember how I don't like licorice (mostly)? It's growing on me.

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