Is there a new name for this area around Park Avenue South yet? SoPa? ParASo? South Park? Between the new Gansevoort Hotel, TGI Friday’s, and this place, we’re going to need something catchy for all the d-bags to put on their Facebook invites. “Jamie, Sara, Erin, Heather, Jessica, Katie, and Kelli’s Birthday Shindig in SoPa! 9:00pm-4:00am. 6 attending, 821 awaiting reply.”
As you can see - we’re not happy about some of the things popping up in this ’hood. But it’s not entirely fair of us to lump Barbounia into the recent terribleification of this fine stretch of city. The restaurant has been in this location for a few years now, before the chains and the clubby hotel showed up. It is, however, a perfectly relevant reference to the trend. Barbounia is a great example of a restaurant built for a certain kind of person. The kind of person that wants a giant sparkler in their birthday dessert.
We’ll admit that the food at Barbounia can be pretty good at times. They do nice things with fish in their big wood-burning oven, and the fresh bread coming out of that thing is pretty tasty as well. But this is definitely not a place we can get behind. It’s way too expensive for what they’re serving, and the grandiose and gaudy decor makes it feel like some sort of vaguely Mediterranean performance hall. Like at any moment one of the bus boys might start juggling. Not exactly our ideal environment for dinner. Regardless, those who are drawn in by the flashy new stuff on Park will probably like Barbounia quite a bit. They even have a bottomless champagne brunch. See you there never.
By now you should know how I feel about hummus (wildly opinionated), and one thing I will tell you is that it should not cost $8.50 for a half cup of it. This order does come served with a big, shiny loaf of fresh baked bread, but come on.
Pretty standard in terms of Greek salad components (cucumber, olives, feta, etc.), but they throw in some za’atar for some kick. A decent option if you want to start with some greens.
Anything that is either grilled or cooked in the wood burning oven will be decent at Barbounia, and this octopus is no exception. This is tender and pretty tasty. We also liked the fennel salad on the plate.
Not the best option if you’re looking for some fish. This isn’t bad by any means, but the white fish is where you want to be looking on this menu.
One of said white fishes, this is available whole or as a filet. It’s flaky and pretty delicious, though the lemon potatoes and broccoli rabe on the plate are a bit of a snooze fest.
Anything lamb at Barbounia is a safe bet, and I back this just because it’s from Colorado.