It takes a certain amount of confidence to set your restaurant in an utterly unmarked brownstone, but Bobo is all about confidence, and with good reason. This yearling restaurant, owned by maverick restaurateur Carlos Suarez, has a brand-new executive chef, the James Beard Award-winning Patrick Connolly. He is fresh from the four-star Radius in Boston, and his French cookery is the perfect fit for this deeply romantic, homey setting.
That hominess is accentuated by the charming bric-a-brac everywhere you look in the main dining room. Books in honeycomb cubbyholes, framed black-and-white photographs of unidentifiable people (presumably Suarez’s relatives and friends) and lamps hung with strands of light purple plastic beads are what you notice first. The restaurant is divided into three discrete spaces: a downstairs bar and 30-seat lounge called “the den,” which has a good informal menu of its own; the primary dining room, which seats 50; and an outdoor 30-seat terrace that, in clement weather, features an herb garden. The staff is especially nimble; our server, Allan, has that rare sixth sense, and he knew exactly when to bring what.
Mixologist Naren Young pours some very unusual flavors and blends out of his cocktail shaker, like the “Breakfast Margarita,” so named for the marmalade and grapefruit salt that tart up the usual mix of tequila, Grand Marnier and lime juice. Even better is the Ritz, a heady and fizzy blend of cognac, Cointreau, maraschino, lemon juice and soda served straight up in a martini glass. In another homey touch, the largely French wine list is printed inside vinyl LP sleeves; ours was the cast recording of Drood.
Chef Connolly often gives his traditional French techniques a light Asian accent. Thus, he sears a scallop à point and plates it with cubed bacon and shiso (Japanese basil).
A crab cake is sweet and happy with its cashew butter. The occasional caper awakens the palate, but in the end the mix was a bit too lemony.
Entrée portions are just right—not too little, not too much. The ribeye is a chunky hunk of boneless slow-roasted beef brimming with flavor, served on a bed of crunchy carrot and turnip slivers with silky potato puree on the side.
The Muscovy duck was a bit chewy, but we ordered it rare, and it would have been a bit more tender if it had been cooked medium-rare. Our fault. A tangy mélange of chorizo, parsnips and hazelnuts finished the plate.
Pastry chef Jennifer Domanski is more than up to the task of following all this eclectic lusciousness. Her pear tart is crunchy, warm and buttery under a melting scoop of pear sorbet. And her five-layer chocolate cake finds the perfect foil in salted toffee and one of the most irresistible ingredients in the dessert world: dulce de leche. The diverse flavors commingle to make this one of the most consistently interesting chocolate cakes I’ve ever tasted.
With its elegant townhouse setting, ubiquitous candles, intimate seating and soft edges everywhere, Bobo would be a great date place—well, for date number three.
181 W. 10th St.
At Seventh Avenue
Entrées: $18 to $30
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