Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hot day, cool food at DB Bistro Moderne

Yesterday, I had a lunch appointment with my reviewer L (it's part of a complicated office hierarchy, no need to explain) in order to receive my 6-month review. I got to choose the location, so of course (of course!) I chose DB Bistro Moderne, one of the nicer restaurants in Times Square I've been waiting for the opportunity to try. You'll be happy to know that both the review and the restaurant were great. Hooray!

There were more people but they melted

The day was a scorcher, but as a cold person I was grateful to note that the inside of DB Bistro was cool, at least compared to the temperature outside, but not frigidly cold. As all women know, one of the perils of summer is wearing outdoors-appropriate clothing and then going inside and shivering until you get back in the sun. For some reason, guys don't seem to care about this-- they wear shorts in winter. What's up with that?

The lunch menu with the signature db logo

Anyway, DB Bistro was calm and peaceful inside. Immediately, as we were shown to the host's stand and then eventually to our table in the back, I could tell that the service here was top-tier: gracious, polite, and crisp. Once we were seated, our menus were brought promptly, and the waiter explained the specials. They were really pushing their special gazpacho appetizer, which seemed, um, odd, especially in the middle of a tomato-borne salmonella outbreak. While cool soup would have been refreshing, both L and I steered clear of the gazpacho and place our orders.

A bread fan and pat of butter

An appealing cone of bread with a dish of softened butter arrived at our table. There were two kinds: two crisp ciabatta-like white rolls and slices of a seasoned loaf. There were a few recognizable spices-- rosemary or sage, perhaps? A hint of garlic?-- and what looked like olives, but the bread definitely lacked an overpowering olive flavor (a good thing). I had two slices of the seasoned bread, which was delicious.

A close-up on my slice, with visible flecks of spice

Once we had eaten our carbs and the review had been delivered, our food arrived. L had ordered the orecchiette pasta with lamb ragu and goat cheese. It looked delicious, with lovely pretty colors and an appealing dollop of creamy goat cheese on top. It also seemed to be the perfect portion-- not skimpy, but not a challenge to finish, either. L pronounced it delicious, and though I didn't have a taste, I have to agree. On principle.

Look at those beautiful flavors!

I ordered the Upstate Farms mesclun salad with baby vegetables. This was one of the most precious salads I've ever encountered. There were baby carrots, peapods, and a few other baby veggies of unidentifiable natures, all of which were heart-meltingly cute. There was a light vinaigrette and a hint of sauce on the lettuce leaves, which contained mesclun greens and the occasional frisee or herb. This salad was tasty, not too small, and delicious. Mmmm-hmmm.

Greens 'n' things

Since we were going all out (i.e., procrastinating from returning to work), we ordered a dessert course. I opted for a cup of lemon verbena tea, and L went for the citrus vacherin. The tea was lovely, with a nice little porcelain pot.

Always so comforting.

The dessert was a show-stopper. When it arrived, L announced that it "looked like a sleeping alien." Right. More importantly, though, it tasted incredible. There was a scoop of sorbet and a squiggle of citrus whipped cream on top of two light-as-air meringue crisps sandwiching a stick of citrusy pastry cream. Everything was delicious and truly light. I wish it had been dinnertime and I had been hungry for dessert-- as it was, I had a tiny bite of each of the elements, but I never really like having dessert in the middle of the day, so I didn't indulge thoroughly. But if I ever get the chance to return to DB Bistro, I will be sure to save room for a dessert or three.

Alien on a bed

DB is an incredibly solid restaurant. The food was delicious, the service flawless, the atmosphere very professional. I had no complaints. And while I might typically hesitate to give a lunch restaurant a five-spatula review, I can't deny Daniel Boulud what is rightfully his: five out of five Offset Spatulas.

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