Thursday, February 4, 2010

Back to Taboon, and equally delighted

My mom was in town for business this week, so as she tends to do, she graciously offered to meet up for dinner. I was feeling a little bit under the weather, so we ended up staying close to my nest. That meant we were treated to a delicious meal at a place I've been meaning to return to for a while: Taboon.

We arrived pretty darn early in the evening, so we were shown directly to an empty table by the window (it's worth noting that the place filled up by the time we left, though, which is impressive for a Sunday night in far west Hell's Kitchen). Our server was friendly and charming but prone to up-selling, which always gets on my nerves. Nonetheless, we made our decisions and were promptly rewarded with a plank of their outstanding bread, brushed with olive oil and fresh out of the oven. Gosh this bread is spectacular-- with a crunch crust deeply flavored with the herbs and the oil and a soft, yielding interior. Last time, AV had ordered tzaziki with the bread, which was a great addition-- I yearned for a bit of dip this time around.

Simply smashing

But we had more food coming, so never fear. In preparation for a potential dessert course, both Mom and I ordered in a rather restrained fashion. Her choice was the branzino, a whole fish served with rosemary, cauliflower, asparagus, and tahini. To say she enjoyed the fish would be an understatement; to say she picked the bones clean would be closer to the truth. Girl likes her fish.

Simply Mediterranean

Though I really loved the Haloumi salad last time, I wasn't spectacularly hungry, so I decided to take a gamble on the zucchini cake appetizer this time around. Our server promised me the cakes weren't leaden despite the fact that they were "pan fried" (usually code for crispy and delicious but sodden with oil), and she was actually right. These cakes were small, plump disks of highly flavored vegetable, herb, and cheese mixture-- the feta made the mixture nicely creamy, the crust was crisp but not over-fried, and the whole thing was strangely delicate. The side of yogurt was such a perfect complement that I only wished they had provided about twice as much. I find that as often as not my menu gambles don't pay off, but this one truly did. I was in heaven.

Oh so yummmm

But of course we were both just biding our time until dessert. Mom went with the chocolate lava cake with chocolate syrup and no ice cream (it usually comes with a scoop of Turkish coffee ice cream). I had a bite or two and it was incredibly rich, a pure and fudgy form of chocolate. The fact that Mom was able to polish this puppy off without the aid of ice cream or whipped cream to cut the richness was impressive.

Chocolate on chocolate

My dessert selection was the "silan," which was basically a Mediterranean ice cream sundae. A base of vanilla ice cream was adorned with caramelized rice krispies, date honey, caramelized pistachios, and a shower of shredded hair-like halva. It was great-- light and sweet while subtly rich.

All you see is the hair here

So, Taboon, you've done it again. With an inviting and serene dining room, a location close to home (but, let's be honest, far from everything else), and spectacular (though somewhat pricey) food, Taboon is the quintessential four Offset Spatula restaurant. If only it were just ever so slightly cheaper, I'd be back night after night. In the meantime... thanks Mom!

773 Tenth Avenue, at 52nd Street

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