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And What's a Barbounia?

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It’s a small, not all that remarkable Mediterranean fish, but the restaurant that has taken its name is making waves already with a gentrified take on food from the Mediterranean and the imperative cocktails that are highly original and, for once, not too sweet. Try the grape-blueberry Stolichnaya “Sappho” or the muddled orange-port-Campari “Valencia.” Sexy drifts of cream-hued fabric soften the room and heighten the drama, though the feathered chandelier is weird—“angels on acid,” we decide. But that’s easy to ignore once we’re into executive chef Michael Cressotti’s smartly tweaked, mostly Greek classics: savory spreads like taramosalata, kalamata tapenade, and toasted-walnut yogurt to spread on luscious flat bread. So-called moussaka of portobellos, crisply crumbed, in a smart mini cocotte. Wonderful fire-roasted sardines, tasting of mustard oil with tangy Granny Smith–fennel salad. The hefty cured meat board comes with dried-fruit chutney and fresh cherry-walnut bread. First-rate rib eye at $36 and lamb chops at $33, naked on the plate, seem expensive to me (sides are $6 extra). But gently priced lemon-rosemary roasted chicken comes with saffron orzo, wild mushrooms, and broccoli rabe. Snapper, a bit too cooked for our taste, rides on lentils with artichoke, olives, and red peppers. Desserts seem to be a work in progress.
250 Park Ave. S., at 20th St.; 212-995-0242


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