Dec. 9th, 2003

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http://www.ilbuco.com/

It is rare that I am blown away by a restaurant, but Il Buco on Bond Street in NYC succeeded. Its a smallish place filled with rustic wood tables and a particularly homey feel for a NY eatery. The cuisine is rustic Mediterranean with more nods to Spain than any other tradition. The servers, despite the cramped conditions and overabundance of big coats, were friendly and gracious. They offer a wide selection of appetizers, like tapas, and a few composed entrees and soups of the day. Our little group decided to have just a selection of appetizers and they arrived in a never ending stream from the kitchen, each a little gem, with only a couple of missteps. Standouts were the empanadas, the wild boar with lardo (a cured pork fat the literally explodes on your palate), and the quail. The glass eels were fantastic, but I think $24 was a little much. Sure, they were imported, but this country produces excellent eels (right in my back yard in fact) and in the spring you can seine as many as you want and make more money selling them for $12. The only thing I did not care for was the baked crab. The oh so trendy dancing bonito was too cool for school, but the aggressive flavor out did the crab and gave it a unpleasant coppery after taste. I won't say it wasn't fresh, but I won't say it was right off the boat either. The strangest thing about so cozy and home like restaurant was the highly ideological nature of the menu which went into manifesto like detail on the importance of just the right ingredients and the lengths the chef was willing to go to get them. Very interesting for a article in Art Culinaire, but something of target if the food hadn't lived up to the rhetoric. They had a troubling wine list. It was hard to choose only a couple of bottles! I restrained myself and stuck to two bottles of barolo. Very smooth for barolo.

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