Ah, Bobo…poor Bobo…the restaurant that could never catch a break.
When last we saw our poor suffering hero, Bobo was on its second chef, soon to be deposed for a third chef. Alas, that wasn’t good enough to impress New York’s Adam Platt or Frank Bruni of the Times, both of whom awarded one star, finding the food too uneven to earn two.
For our part, we are still betting that Bobo will succeed. The new chef, Patrick Connolly, comes with a successful stint at Boston’s Radius to his credit. We still love the space, the prices are reasonable for the neighborhood, and the service is better than you find at many restaurants in its peer group. There are some conceits that a cynical reviewer would call precious, but we still want to give Bobo a big hug.
Many restaurants are serving gourmet burgers these days, and one day I decided on impulse to give Bobo’s a try. I hadn’t written down the address, and I very nearly couldn’t find the place. The graphic on Bobo’s website, shown above, seems to be making a joke about the restaurant’s secluded and unlabeled location in an old townhouse on W. 10th Street.
In the casual downstairs bar, old albums are the theme. The bar menu is pasted onto the center label of an old 33rpm record, and the wine list is pasted inside a double-album cover. (You can also order the main restaurant menu downstairs.)
Even though I was only having a burger, there was a full bread service with soft butter. The wine I ordered was a very reasonable tempranillo at $10 a glass, and the server offered a taste before I committed to it. These are small points, but plenty of more expensive restuarants get them wrong.
What about that burger? Owner Carlos Suarez described it on Eater.com:
The development/thinking on the Bobo burger is all about simplicity, though. Its five key ingredients: a potato roll, gruyere cheese, crispy fried leeks above the meat, house-pickled leeks underneath, and the meat. There’s a spice to the meat—it just has a slightly different flavor profile. Plus, we’re doing a finer grind on the beef than you usually see. We did 20 dif variations—added pork, pancetta, guanciale, toyed with an egg, different rolls—and this was the one most well received. It’s straightforward, not trying to add unnecessary expenses. All familiar flavors.
I am so sure that a burger served with leeks is “straightforward.” It worked, though if we’re being picky, the bun didn’t quite stand up to the gooey mess inside it. The fries, spiced with salt, pepper, corn starch and chives, were surprisingly good, and I finished them all.
The bar was doing good business at around 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday evening, though it was not full. Bobo remains a fun place, and I suspect we’ll be back.
Bobo (181 W. 10th Street at Seventh Avenue South, West Village)