I’m thinking back to my dinner last Sunday at Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf, listening to “Thugz Mansion” by Nas. Bavette’s was many things, all very good. The restaurant is warm and inviting, from the anachronistic music to the placement of tables, the leather, open kitchen, lighting. At first I was on edge because the hostess was on the telephone and ushered in through the door saying we would be taken care of- she was right. The female manager greeted and seated us. The server was not intrusive and positive, with good ambient feedback. We started with cocktail shrimps- there’s some good details in the simplicity of the taste and presentation that made these right there with the best shrimp I have ever had. They are perfectly cleaned, presented on a plat du mer covered with perfectly ground ice granules and seaweed, with citrus and sauces. I was impressed. Etta’s negroni was flawless, the ice in my Diet Coke was kold draft cubes. The caesar salad had lots of smoky fish and salty potato chips; I was like Wang Chi in Big Trouble in Little China: “I got a very positive attitude about this.”
The bussers were true warriors, raised in the hood. The blond beachwood table was completely cleared between courses. They employed an individual wiping cloth for both Etta and me. We split a steak for the mains. The ribeye was the definition of a pre-Nixon steak. I don’t have a lot of experience with top quality steaks, but this steak was unbelievable. Cooked to perfection, juicy, thick, richly seasoned. The kind of steak that makes me want to call my vegan sister to apologize. We got the loaded potato. I stopped the waiter, paused, looking at the potato the size of a football. I asked, “Is that thing organic?” and the waiter replied that it was an organic potato. We loaded the beast with the same grizzly bacon that comes on the burger at Au Cheval, sour cream, and cheese. By this point Bavette’s had already won the title of my best meal in 2013. The rich and savory chocolate cream pie topped with the hugest quenelle I have ever seen was nevertheless light enough to somehow disappear in the night, and we followed. Bavette, if I could only have one more dance with you mama.