Babu Ji

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Now that Winter has actually kicked in, in NYC, you probably crave comfort food. And, if you’re like me, you want comfort food that’s hot and spicy too, because, extra warmth. I love Indian food, which pretty much checks these marks for me, so, I was off to Babu Ji in Alphabet City.

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A mix of modern elegance meets local deli kind of sums up the aesthetic of this contemporary Indian restaurant. You’ll find striking, large print photographs framed on the wall, along with a projecting Indian movie, and, a stuffed peacock on top of a self-serve beverage refrigerator. But once your food starts coming out, you won’t even be paying attention to what’s around you, and only what’s in front of you. Not only are the dishes all visually captivating, they’re insanely delicious. And, the entire staff here was so amazing, attentive, courteous, and, if you’re a crazy food-picture-taker like myself, you’re in luck, because one of our servers asked a few times if I’d like him to provide some additional light from his phone. What a gem! Ok, food, let’s get into it. Get some Naan. It’s warm, soft and pillowy, but still has a nice chew to it. The flavors are delicate, but give the dough a little pizzaz.

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All of the appetizers sounded amazing, so, I started with a couple to share. First was Papadi Chaat (chickpea, cucumber, pomegranate, tamarind, mint and yogurt chutney). They describe it as the motherland’s version of nachos and salsa, a must try. And, they’re 100% right, this dish was unbelievable. First off, it’s stunning to look at, but each ingredient is so fresh and dynamic, and you can really taste all of the flavors individually, while going so wonderfully all together. Texture wise, you really have everything here, you’ve got crunch from the slaw and the chips, creaminess from the chutney, and all of the other elements in between. It was really fantastic, and you must order it.

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Ok, so, before I even start about the second appetizer, I need to take a breath. Ok, breath taken. This was possibly one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while, and definitely my favorite thing from my meal here. I had their Colonel Tso’s Cauliflower (Indo-Chinese style cauliflower in a tomato chili sauce, sesame and onion seed, chives). So, they killed it in the immitation department, replicating General Tso’s Chicken from the outside. But, take a bite and this vegan dish made out of cauliflower tastes crazily similar. Everything about this dish was pure perfection, from the sweet, tangy, and spicy sauce, to the airy and crisp breading around the tender and flavorful cauliflower. I wish I could go on forever about this, but, my fingers will get too tired from typing. So, let’s meet up for a plate of Colonel Tso’s Cauliflower and I’ll talk your ear off about it.

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For my main, I ordered Baingan Bartha (Spiced and fire roasted eggplant curry with green peas). Again, presentation on point. And flavor wise, excellent. The eggplant is pureed into a consistency in between a spread and a paste, making it very substantial. There’s a really nice kick of heat, and the freshness of the peas and shaved veggies on top help to cool your mouth a little bit and add a nice textural component.

The Shorts:
Name: Babu Ji
Location: 175 Avenue B, NYC
The Shorts: Would I go back? Let me think about it…YES! Did you not read my obsessive fan-girl review of that cauliflower?
Would I recommend it? 100%. In fact, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t go. I can’t even think of one complaint. The staff is incredible, the food is outstanding, what else could you ask for?

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Mignonette

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Well, I was back in Miami, and had to hit up some of the places I just didn’t have time for during my last visit. So, I paid a little dinner visit to Mignonette.

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One of the top restaurants in Miami, this seafood spot has a great mix of upscale and casual dining all in one. They have a playful vibe here, but the focus on the food is no joke. We started with some wine, and ordered from the Prix Fixe menu that they were offering that night. I chose to start with the Boston Lettuce (pickled shallots, croutons, buttermilk dressing). All the ingredients were fresh, and the buttermilk dressing was on point, so, this was a pretty fool proof choice, but, I do love a salad. 

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For my entree, I ordered the Grouper (roasted cauliflower with smoked trout roe). I loved this. Grouper might not be an all-around crowd favorite, but I actually really like it. The texture is a bit more firm than most white fish, it’s not as delicate and flakey, but this was still very tender and flavorful. It paired really nicely with the nuttiness of the the roasted cauliflower flavor, which also balanced out the saltiness of the roe. 

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For dessert, I went with their Butterscotch Heath Bar Bread Pudding (cayenne whipped cream). Now, if the name alone doesn’t sell you, maybe this will. Holy F*&k, it was amazing. The saying, “save the best for last” is super relevant here. Don’t get me wrong, everything else was definitely delicious and wonderfully prepared. But, I’m a huge sweet tooth and definitely fell in love with this. It’s served warm, and has a dense, yet light and custardy type of consistency, making it a perfect comfort food. If you’re just out and about, already ate dinner, just go in for this. You can thank me later. 

The Shorts:
Name: Mignonette
Location: 210 NE 18th Street, Miami, FL
The Long and Short: Would I go back? For sure. I really liked the atmosphere, and the food was excellent.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. Whatever you order, I’m sure it’ll be delicious. But whatever you do, don’t leave without that damn bread pudding.