Everyone loves Barbuto, Jonathan Waxman’s go-to roast chicken joint, now celebrating ten years right on the edge of the Meatpacking district, in an old Rolls Royce garage. It’s what people call a Laid Back Bistro, which means that scrubbed wooden tables and cafe chairs adorn the bright, sparse room, the menu tends towards the aggressively seasonal with something new everyday, and pretty much everything is less than $20, though, if you wanted to, you could pay $300 for a bottle of wine.
We ordered the chicken. Of course we did. I mean, we talked about maybe going with something else, but we both knew it was just a game. Sure, that recipe might be all over the internet, sure, we made it ourselves only the other week, but how could that compete with the real deal, straight from the cozy wood-burning oven dominating the corner of the open kitchen? Besides, there at the front of the bar was Waxman himself, genial and chatty, meeting and greeting, and occasionally shuttling over to the kitchen to keep an eye on proceedings. Jonathan Waxman’s chicken eaten five feet from Jonathan Waxman? No brainer.
So the chicken arrived, burnished and beautiful, scattered with crunchy salt, dotted with pools of snooker-baize-green salsa verde. And it was indeed Platonic Chicken. Mythic Grandmother Chicken. Skin crackling to a shattering crisp. Meat soft and intense. Oven sweetened lemon merging with gutsy sharp salsa. Lip coating slick of juice.
Before and alongside, we shared a kale salad, deftly dressed with the requisite anchovies and lemon, and a bowl of Brussels sprouts scattered with toasted hazelnuts. But really, it was all about the chicken. Just perfect chicken. And a couple of gin and tonics and a pleasant hour or two of people watching as the evening deepened through the enormous windows outside.
What’s the damage?
Chicken – $19
Salad – $13
Wine – $12 – 15 a glass, bottles from $45ish, all the way up to something very special.
Cocktails – $14
Barbuto – 175 Washington Street at West 12th street. 212 924 9700