After exploring countless department stores on
We arrived about a half hour before the kitchen opened for dinner. Claiming a couple chairs in the bar area, we watched as, nearby, the waiters tasted and discussed the dishes they would be serving that night. I consider a briefing of waiters before work an essential aspect of running a reputable restaurant, or any other business, for that matter. It is important for one to know the product one will be selling. At a restaurant, the waiter must understand first-hand the intricacies of the flavors he will be suggesting. I worked at a restaurant once where it was not their policy to allow their servers to taste the dishes. It made it difficult to answer the questions asked by customers about specific dishes. How can one be expected to speak on the spiciness, sweetness, consistency, etc. of a dish without having tried it oneself? How can you recommend something you have never experienced?
Barbounia’s policy of allowing their servers to taste their foods before setting out on the floor left me confident about their service and food before we even commenced with our meal.
Our waiter, Gabriel, was gracious, burly man from
We started off our dinner with a Mezze—a tzatizi made with Greek yogurt, fresh herbs, scallions and olive oil. It was served with warm flatbread straight from the oven. The bread was surprisingly moist considering its thickness (about ½ inch) and the tzatizi was a wonderful mingling of tart yogurt with bitter herbs.
Our appetizer was a beet salad consisting of arugula, walnuts, raisins, Stilton cheese, and thinly sliced pears and red beets, splashed with a red wine vinaigrette. The bitterness of the arugula was a perfect combination with the sweetness of the Stilton cheese. I find sweet, soft cheeses are a wonderful complement to bitter greens such as arugula or mâche. Très delicieux.
Swimming in a sea of green tabouli in a braised fennel yogurt sauce was a citrus-marinated salmon—the entrée. Grilled to a moist medium-well, the fish literally melted in our mouths.
I made certain to leave a small pocket in my stomach empty so I could try one of their succulent desserts. Every one of the eight listed on the menu was unique and intriguing, but I finally settled on the yogurt panna cotta. The creamy panna cotta covered a thin layer of chopped hazelnuts and almonds, drizzled with a tangerine honey, sprinkled with mulberries and candied oranges pieces, and, finally, garnished with a tiny dollop of pistachio ice cream. There was also a cookie made with shredded wheat, held together with a light honey, balancing out the textures with a bit of crunch.
I could have melted away into that dessert; it was simply incredible. Every flavor provided a fascinating view to the harmonious dialogue, resulting ultimately in a faultless conclusion.