Thursday, July 29, 2010


I have to admit, I've know about Jonathan Waxman for years but he was never really on my radar until his stint on Top Chef Masters. He isn't flashy or new but his simple cooking showcasing the best local ingredients won and gentle calm in the kitchen won us over and put his New York restaurant Barbuto on my must visit list.
I started with this raw zucchini salad. A tangle of shaved zucchini, toasted hazelnuts and a lemony vinaigrette served a top a smear of black olive paste. So simple and so delicious I am going to try a version of this at home.
From my seat I could see into the open kitchen and watched Chef Waxman expediting dishes while warmly greeting diners at the kitchen tables and across the cheerful dining room.
I was lucky enough to pop into the kitchen and meet the chef. We chatted about gardens (he's working on a NY schoolyard garden) and how he misses LA sometimes while he signed my copy of his cookbook, A Great American Cook.
When my waiter learned it was my first visit to Barbuto he "insisted" I try the roast chicken. I rarely order chicken in a restaurant but I gave in and was served a delightfully crisp-skinned meaty bird. Quality of the bird aside, the star of this dish was the salsa verde -- parsley, tarragon, fresh oregano, capers, garlic and olive oil. This super punch of flavor made simple chicken more than a weeknight dinner dish and I am going to work on a house sauce like this for James.
A great dinner from a great American cook.

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