Okay, Iâ€™m going to come right out and say it: I was at the soft opening of Baby Wale, and was disappointed with the food (they just werenâ€™t ready to open at that point).
But last week, things seemed very different, and I had a really nice dinner there – one that calls me back.
While I waited for my appetizer, I got a glass ofÂ 2012 Zum Martin Sepp GrÃ¼ner VeltlinerÂ ($8), a solid version of this dry, stalwart white wine that nobody had heard of ten years ago, but is virtually the house white of many a restaurant in this era, generally being among the least expensive white wines by the glass that have a bit of backbone to them.
I started off withÂ Celery Root SoupÂ ($7), and got a very typical, Power-esque bowl of broth, seemingly using shellfish stock as a backbone but I canâ€™t be sure – there was a crustacean-like richness to the bisque-y soup, perhaps the only flaw being an over-exuberant squirt of oil on top. I would get this again in a heartbeat.
The bread here is very good, and butter is even better: creamy *and* salted on top – there was not a microliter of soup left in my bowl after swabbing it clean.
The Go-Go touches at Baby Wale are just fantastic – from the sign on the wall, to the posters advertising wines by the glass, Iâ€™m going to tell you in a moment which restaurant – more than any other – Baby Wale reminds me of in DC (think about it right now, and see if you can guess).
One thing Iâ€™ll bet Tom regrets is the bar stools which seem a couple inches too tall, but oddly, I donâ€™t remember this being an issue the last time I was in, so maybe theyâ€™re not all the same, or the floor is elevated in certain sections of the bar. Regardless, itâ€™s a small issue.
Anyone who has played blind-tasting games in the past would guess, if they were blindfolded, that my glass ofÂ 2010 Perrin CÃ´tes du Rhone RougeÂ ($9) was caramel. Not caramel-y wine, but actual caramel – like Ann Amernick caramel. It was bizarre, but seemed to blow off after a few minutes (it was probably a pour from a brand new bottle).
And it was completely gone when I got myÂ Charcoal Grilled Faux Rib EyeÂ ($24) with house made french fries, and just the right amount ofÂ jusÂ to cover the steak, and dunk most of the fries. This is apparently a shoulder cut, made from the junction of three different muscles, so while not an expensive cut of meat, a lot of people (me included) would swear this was a rib eye. If youâ€™re like me, you tend to skimp on steaks, and therefore order a lot of Hanger and Skirt cuts – this is a refreshing change of pace from those, and if you like steak, I would urge you to try this.Â
How do you not getÂ Cookie Dim SumÂ ($2) for dessert? I asked what it was, and they said they bring you a tray of cookies, and you pick one. Well, they literally brought out a tray of cookies – about ten of them – and I picked one, chocolate chip, and took it to go.
So, about the restaurant that Baby Wale reminds me of: Comet Ping Pong. Think about it – how could it be anything elseÂ
A really good showing for Baby Wale that is formally initiated solidly inÂ ItalicÂ in theÂ Dining Guide.