Having spent large phases of this odyssey dining solo, the US leg of the journey has seen me connecting with more and more friends for highly convivial evenings of shared dishes and much merry badinage.
The latest co-conspirator to join my happy throng was Rosabelle who had joined many years previously at Maison Bleue during a visit she made to Edinburgh.
She suggested dinner at upscale Italian Il Buco and had let me know that she had requested a table in their wine cellar. This all sounded highly intriguing.
There was indeed space in the cellar so once we’d checked in with the buzzing upstairs dining room we were shown down steep stairs to a wonderfully old world room – a haunt of Edgar Allan Poe, no less – full of wine and many tables of slightly quieter diners.
We were promptly brought menus which were slightly challenging to read in the moodlit cavern. Much more helpful was our waiter who ran us through things including the day’s specials which included a sharing bone-in ribeye which we were lured in by.
We chose to start with some ricotta served with persimmon and kohlrabi then their octopus dish. We added a shared pasta course of truffle tagliatelle.
We nibbled on good bread and olive oil as the starters arrived. The ricotta and persimmon had a similar flavour profile to the burrata starter I’d had at Simone but didn’t pack the same elegance and verve. The octopus was much more successful with well cooked tentacle goodness served on a bed of purple potatoes.
The pasta was very nicely done with plentiful black truffle shavings atop the suitably al dente ribbons.
The steak was the star of the show. Served on a massive chopping board, complete with comedy bone, the medium rare meat had been sliced into hearty slab pieces. The exterior had excellent char and the meat packed supreme flavour as well as high levels of tenderness. It was as good a dish of its type as I’ve been served in a long while.
It took us no small time to work our way through the beastie as well as the accompanying rocket and parmesan salad. We were left joyfully defeated as we sipped on the last of our excellent Barolo.
We still had room to share a cheese board and some dessert wines, though. The cheeses were a good blend of local and European with strong accompaniments such as toasted almonds and fragrant honey.
Overall, Il Buco was quite a magical experience. The setting is like nowhere I’ve been before and some of the food we had was completely excellent. It’s one to add to your list for when you fancy a little splurge or some old-style romance. I’d be keen to visit again on future trips to the city.
Blythe scores Il Buco
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4.5/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 17/20
Today’s questers were: Rosabelle, Blythe
We ate: pulpo, ricotta with persimmon, tagliatelle al tartufo, sharing ribeye, cheese
We drank: bubbles, Barolo, sparkly water, dessert wines
We wore: red, purple, orange
Total bill: $471
Address: 47 Bond Street, NY 10012