When you walk into Bar Basque, it is an affront to the senses. The harsh, futuristic décor and crimson vinyl walls evoke a space-aged brothel on the second floor of Chelsea’s Eventi Hotel.
Be prepared to wait for at least 20 minutes before being served water, let alone placing an order. And don’t even think about using the restroom. From toilets missing their seat, to who knows what that was on the floor, the bathrooms were so unsanitary (for women and men) they could literally make you sick.
Unfortunately the food, while impressive on paper, doesn’t make up for the questionable design and lackluster service. The tapas are just what you’d expect from a Spanish restaurant. The Assorted Basque Charcuterie Plate ($15) offers a selection of Spanish meats, including chorizo, salami, lomo, and butifarra. The Croquettes ($8 for four) come in several varieties, Idiazabal Cheese, Cod and Iberian Ham, and Wild Mushroom. The Wild Mushroom croquettes are the best of the bunch, creamy with a hint of truffle, while the other two are over-salted.
The only redeeming factors of the restaurant are the appetizers. The Crispy Farm Egg ($14) is a delectable combination of yolk, cheese, potatoes and Serrano ham that melts in your mouth. The Roasted Local Beets ($10) is the single-best item on the entire menu. An assortment of golden, red and white beats intermixed with tangy, creamy goat cheese and crunchy Marcona almonds come together to create perfect bite after perfect bite.
Each of the entrees strive to be great, but just miss the mark. The Free-Range Half Chicken ($27) is bland and dry, though the rice with brown gravy is delicate and savory. The Crispy Suckling Pig ($38) is tender and juicy, with thick crispy bits of skin layered on top; however, the pea puree assaults the palate with mint that just doesn’t work with the pork. And the Diver Sea Scallops ($32) come golden brown, and buttery, but chewy.
Dessert will leave you on a slightly higher high note. The Tocino del Cielo literally translates to mean Bacon From Heaven (but doesn’t actually contain bacon) is an egg and caramel custard that is light and slightly sweet with the consistency of Jello. And Terry’s “Chocolatina” Glossy Chocolate Ganache Tarte blends praline, caramelized Hazelnut and brandy-flavored whipped cream to create a rich, indulgent treat.
Mediocre food, ghastly decor and atrocious service: Bar Basque doesn’t seem to get anything quite right.
839 Sixth Ave.
New York, NY 10001
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