Spice of Life Needed

I went with P- to her friend’s b-day party Thursday at Paprika, in the East Village. P and I didn’t really know many of the birthday girl’s friends that were at the table, they weren’t particularly interested in me — maybe they were, but no one could hear each other — and the ones that we did know were at the other end of a table for 20. That really left the food for entertainment.

With a name like Paprika, you’d be expecting Eastern European food, but it’s supposed to be rustic northern Italian cuisine. It’s probably not fair to judge a restaurant when they are hosting two 20 person birthday parties, but it pretty much felt like the 4 train at rush hour with dim lighting and a row of cocktail tables. The women on the bench were literally crawling over each other. The kitchen is not much bigger than mine, which is not saying much in my 550 square foot jr. one bedroom. I passed on the gnocchi this time because I knew based on what I saw was happening at the other birthday table that they had no chance of pulling it off without turning it into chewing gum.

I went instead with the hearty “Homemade Pappardelle with Braised Oxtail Ragu”. I’m sure if I got the dish when it was finished, it would have been fine and toothsome, but after being held while the other plates came out, it came out like a deconstructed ravioli, with a pile of cold, dry wonton skins hiding maybe 2 tablespoons of oxtail meat residue. Disappointing, but probably the reason why professional food reviewers go two or three times before writing their articles.

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