Monday, May 16, 2005

Screw Baru

Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
The reviewer from the Queens Gazette wasn't named in the May 12th 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. Don’t forget, it wasn'€™t posted, so we didn’t 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.


Anonymous said...

I live a block from Baru, and was eagerly awaiting the opening of what looked like it might be a nice place.

Last week, when I noticed it was open I stopped in to take a look at the menu on my way home. The selection looks good, but DAMN! Those prices are steep even by Manhattan standards! (SO glad I only stopped in to look and not sit!) If I'm paying that much for a meal, it better be a life-changing culinary experience, which, after reading your review it clearly isn't.

It's a shame, because I would love to have a local place with a wide seafood menu, especially now that summer is coming. But at those prices, I'll go to the fish market and prepare it myself... I have a feeling it would be better.

Unknown said...

Oh man, have I got a place for you! I haven't blogged it yet, but Elia's Fish Corner will rock your world.

Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

Isn't that the place on the corner right by the Beer Garden? I think I remember friends recommending it ages ago-- will have to check it out!

Unknown said...

stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

That bad, huh? Wow. I hate not trying the place as it's so near my apartment and I like to know all the nearby restaurants, but it sounds terrible. And I don't have a spare $115 for a lousy meal.

Maybe they will iron out the kinks and hire a decent chef as time goes by. Otherwise surely they won't stay in business long.

Unknown said...

I agree, they can't go on like this forever. It really is a shame. I like to try all the new places, too.

Anonymous said...

Elia's Fish Corner is only good if you like a grilled whole fish on your plate. Pretty unimaginative for my seafood standards. I wouldn't recommend it...

Thanks for the review on Baru though.

Unknown said...

To be sure, Elia's isn't haute cusine, but what they do, they do *right*.

Anonymous said...

I ate at Baru. The steak was good. The wine was even better and not pricey at all. It all depends on what type of dinner you choose to have....if going to Elias corner is your idea of good food then just stick to it but don't judge something that yes is more expensive but far better.

Unknown said...

Since you posted anonymously, for all I know, you're the owner. You are the only person I have ever encountered who had a decent experience there. I have very consistant reports of bad experiences there. I have no problem with expensive food. I have a problem with expensive bad food. Maybe they got a new chef. Maybe you told them you were a reviewer. Maybe you're full of shit. How the hell do I know? Glad you had the only nice meal I've ever heard of at Baru. You probably won't have a problem getting a table.

Anonymous said...

I recently had lunch at Baru and loved it. Yes, it is a bit pricy, but the atmosphere, food and service were excellent. Lunch prices were much more reasonable, but after a taste, I'm eager to try the dinner menu as well.

Anonymous said...

Once again no I am not the owner and I don't see how you possibly could think Elias has better food than Baru....let's see maybe you will recomment McDonald's next.

Unknown said...

Dude, Mr. Anonymous, chill out. It's a restaurant. I hate it. And everyone I've ran into, includeing those in the idustry, hated it. You love it. Who the hell cares? People have different opinions and experiences - especially when it come to food. It's totally subjective.

Since you asked, I can't stand the existence of McDonald's let alone its "food". But I'm not going to waste my precious time on this earth repeatedly bothering someone who likes it. Some people have websites about how much they love the president or advocate against a women's right to choose what happens to her own freaking body. Go bother them.