review of Baru. I wouldn't want my name to be associated with a decent, let alone glowing, review of this place either.
A sad replacement for the reliable Rainbow Diner, who's menu was famous for "mushron omelets with a side of home
fires", Baru is in Rainbow's old storefront on 30th Avenue.
Hungry for dinner on Sunday night, with a bunch of friends, I walked past Baru and thought we might try it out. There's no menu in the window (unlike every other restaurant in New York City) but we said, "what the heck".
Baru opens up on two sides and is very airy, though smoke from outside patrons tends to waft in. The customers are largely Eurostyle hipsters. It's dark and has unusual light fixtures that would be very attractive if they were not made cheesy by the accompanying, enormous lighting panel behind the bar that changes colors every few seconds - green, purple, red - okay we get it! Most of the tables are low with leather lounge chairs. Comfy, but not for eating - you'll have back spasms after an hour of it. The bathrooms have ridiculous iridescent tiles and floating candles. The silverware was sterling and brought out on very silly silver trays.
We were seated in the most comfortable table in the neighborhood. Nice leather chairs at the perfect height for our big round table, we felt cushy...for the two minutes until we got the menu. Donât forget, it wasn't posted, so we didnât know what was coming.
Baru may be the most expensive restaurant in Astoria. Entrees start at $19 and the wine selection is so expensive that we all had soda. I wrote my Master's thesis on wine. This is not a common choice for me.
My discomfort with the menu was softened when bread finally arrived. Two varieties of soft, warm bread with lovely dipping oil. We scarfed it down. It was the best thing we ate all evening. The stuffed clams were tasty yet unimaginative. The salmon and bouillabaisse couldn't be faulted. The chicken would be passable at half the price. The halibut was dryer than the bread. Had it been sitting under a heat lamp? It was accompanied by two lumps of a gooey concoction I assume was supposed to be tarter sauce. The fish was placed on a bed of spinach that was quite good. The side of asparagus was good, too, helped along by generous seasoning.
We would have considered getting dessert if a) we had wanted to eat anything else from this kitchen or b) it wasn't displayed on a tacky dessert cart. I always wonder how those desserts look fresh. Are they giving the display model to you and making a fresh one for the cart?
The bill came to $115 for four without wine or dessert. Our money was clearly going to pay off the decorator's taste in furnishing, not the food. The owners should be ashamed of themselves.
We went home and ate some of our friend's birthday tiramisu. Thank God for that. My faith in food was restored, but if you want to have a splurgey meal in Astoria, hit Brick, Sa'gapo or Amici Amore. Don't waste your money on Baru.
Thanks (and Happy Birthday!) to MV for ideas and assistance on this posting.