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Extra Comfy December 6, 2009


As I’ve grown older, I noticed that I now  stay friends with my ex-boyfriends.

That certainly did not happen in my 20s.

I figure, if I like this person enough to go on 10, 20, 30 dates with, then it’s worth keeping the friendship. Being single in my late 30s, I’ve learned

that there aren’t A LOT of people I connect with and want to share a meal with.

Those days of dating just to get a free meal are long gone. My time is too precious to waste on small talk and verbal resumes. The food doesn’t taste as good when you’re asked, “So what type of music do you like?”

Recently, I had dinner at Barbuto with my most recent ex. I like to call him “Herbal Tea Guy” because we met for tea on our first date, and it just stuck.  He also happens to drink a lot of herbal tea.

Barbuto is a wonderful restaurant owned by chef Jonathan Waxman.  I fell in love with him from watching Top Chef Masters and had to experience his food for real.  Jonathan comes off as the ultimate mensch you want cooking for you.  He has warmth and kindness, and so does the atmosphere at Barbuto.  It’s sophisticated yet comfy. The wood-burning brick oven adds to that warmth and brings a nostalgic smell of home for me.  My mother is a great cook and I have fond memories of her slow-roasted chicken that made our home smell wonderful.

I dated Herbal Tea Guy on and off for about 3 years.  We loved spending time together, so we both naturally tried hard to ignore that we were wrong for each other.  Happily, we’re now at a place where we can be ourselves with each other, as friends, and there’s a comfort in that.  However, this dinner made me think that perhaps our comfort, may be ‘too close for comfort’!

We were having a little food orgy at Barbuto:  crunchy bruschetta with white beans, garlic and herbs.  A beautiful beet salad with ricotta salata.  A savory soup with pork belly, onions and melted parmesan.  Skirt steak with sweet onion relish and perfectly roasted brussels sprouts –  all delicious, rustic, and satisfying.  We were making all sorts of yummy noises enjoying the food, and then I notice Herbal Tea Guy nonchalantly unbuttoning his pants, as if he was alone in his apartment.

I said “What are you doing?” and he responded with a confused,  “What? No one’s looking.”  Did he actually think he wasn’t doing anything wrong?

Another tiny reminder that he’s my ex, and it should stay that way.

But then again, I was the one who devoured a gigantic dessert on my own, without caring what Herbal Tea Guy thought.

There are a lot of nice things about dining with an ex –  overindulgence, comfortable silence, unabashed yummy noises, and the ability to unbutton your pants so you can eat some more.

I recommend Barbuto for anyone: singles, dates, business, family in town.  We loved everything we ordered, but couldn’t help notice the roasted chicken everyone was ordering around us.  We both gasped, “What is THAT!!” as it passed by us the first time.  It’s an entire half chicken, lightly browned, glistening and shiny, like a cartoon roast chicken that makes Wile E. Coyote’s mouth water.  Little did I know, this is the house specialty, “Pollo al forno.”  I’ll order it next time, and I’ll bring my mother to thank her for all the roast chicken dinners she’s made for me.

775 Washington Street (at West 12th)

Polla al forna

Polla al forna

Barbuto on Urbanspoon

One Comments
Nancy December 7th, 2009

Lucky mother! Great piece.

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