My hairstylist Mark is notoriously picky - and thrifty to say the least. So, when he went ga-ga for a new Mediterranean restaurant in Park Slope, insisting that I pay a visit, I paid heed. (Besides, I didn't want him disappointed and taking it out on my mane.) My pal Jennifer, also a client of Mark's, found herself in the same precarious position. We had no choice. We had to plan a dinner at Tempo.
The perfect opportunity presented itself in the form of our mutual friend Stacie's birthday. Pregnant, Stacie couldn't join in the usual cocktail and vino-fest that goes alongside a tasty celebratory dinner or brunch, but the folks at Tempo said they'd be happy to provide a champagne flute filled with ginger ale, so she could share in a toast or two.
So far so good.
The night of the birthday dinner, I arrived early to scout out the scene. Located in the large 5th Avenue space that once housed Cucina, the restaurant that kicked off the Park Slope 5th Avenue dining renaissance, the new owners had certainly made the space their own. First big change: a real bar in front of the house. Other changes included a sophisticated color palate of beiges and greys, as well as the removal of Cucina's famous, but cumbersome, antipasto bar. The restaurant's two large, vaulting rooms were buzzing with well-heeled Brooklynites imbibing and ingesting.
Hmm. So far, still so good.
I grabbed a seat at the bar and debated about ordering the house special Sicilian Iced Tea, which had been profiled in the New York Times Sunday Style section. Ended up with a refreshing, citrusy cocktail composed of gin, Moscato d'Asti and lemon. Delicious! But, I'm still thinking that I'll have to return for the "iced tea," or try my hand at whipping it up from the recipe printed up in the Times:
SICILIAN ICED TEA
Adapted from Tempo
1 1/2 ounces Cointreau
1 ounce Averna amaro
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Splash of club soda
Sprig of fresh rosemary.
1. Shake first five ingredients with ice. Pour into an old- fashioned glass, and top with splash of club soda and a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with rosemary sprig.
Once the gaggle of gals arrived, we sashayed over to a large table and began ooh-ing and aah-ing over the menu selections. We quickly decided to split several smaller plates, including a decadently rich order of Bucatini with Sicilian Pistachio Nut Pesto (which curiously reminded me of Chinese Sesame Noodles) and a special of Pumpkin Lune with Butter and Sage, topped with grated Amaretti Cookies (a recipe directly from Babbo, but who cares when it is this expertly prepared).
Then it happened. What happened? Didn't you read the title of this posting? Accidents will happen all right - In this case, a busboy spilled red wine on my friend Pam, staining her peach-colored courdoroys. At first he was like a deer in the headlights, seemingly more concerned about making sure that her upholstered chair wasn't stained, than taking care of Pam. But, that was quickly remedied. The manager came over, apologized and proffered a second bottle of vino on the house to make up for the accident - in addition to insisting that the restaurant take care of dry cleaning costs.
Let me say it again: accidents will happen. But, the difference between a restaurant I won't be visiting again and one that I'll endorse, is how accidents are handled. In the case of Tempo - swiftly and professionally.
The rest of the dinner proceed without incident, unless you consider winner entrees such as a succulent Niman Ranch Pork Chop with Fruit Chutney and Sauteed Skate with Beurre Noisette and Raisins as "incident"
Dessert featured a masterful rendition of a classic - Sticky Date and Toffee Pudding. (And, I thought the bucatini was decadent!)
Needless to say, I'm not hoping that a return visit to Tempo features any more accidents. But, if they happen, at least I know I'm in good hands - and that the meal will be worth the minor aggravation.