Okay, I’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 weren’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 of 2012 Zum Martin Sepp Grüner Veltliner ($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 with Celery Root Soup ($7), and got a very typical, Power-esque bowl of broth, seemingly using shellfish stock as a backbone but I can’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, I’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 I’ll bet Tom regrets is the bar stools which seem a couple inches too tall, but oddly, I don’t remember this being an issue the last time I was in, so maybe they’re not all the same, or the floor is elevated in certain sections of the bar. Regardless, it’s a small issue.
Anyone who has played blind-tasting games in the past would guess, if they were blindfolded, that my glass of 2010 Perrin Côtes du Rhone Rouge ($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 my Charcoal Grilled Faux Rib Eye ($24) with house made french fries, and just the right amount of jus 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 you’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.
How do you not get Cookie Dim Sum ($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 else
A really good showing for Baby Wale that is formally initiated solidly in Italic in the Dining Guide.