Last December I went to Open Baladin and it was a disaster. Well, the beer and crochette were great but the burger and potato chips were god awful. It was only a few months old at the time and I presume they have worked out most of the kinks, because I have been back since, most recently twice in the past two weeks, and things are better, though they are by no means perfect.
On my penultimate trip back, I got a Greek salad. This was a safe choice, I thought. The feta was spectacular, but the salad itself was overdressed. There was more oil in the bowl than Quinta in my glass. But I worked through it and freaked out the guys at the table next to mine by dissecting their burgers with my eyes while sipping my Saison from the Tuscia.
As opposed to the pulpy mess I had been served last December, their patties appeared juicy and bloody. I noticed Open has changed their buns, too. Good signs abound. But I’m still not quite up to ordering the burger there again. I find burger disappointment devastating and I’m not willing to risk it. I am really quite fragile when it comes to these things.
But I did try another of their meat dishes on my visit last week: 120g of tartare di Fassona, a species of cattle from Piedmont recognized by a Slow Food Presidium. The mass of chopped beef was served with a side of egg yolk. On a narrow, flat plate. Needless to say, this is not the best choice of dish, as it is impossible to mix the yolk and meat properly without making a mess. So much for mangiabilita’. Throwing caution to the wind, I really mashed things up anyway and got egg all over the place, but enjoyed the meal anyway.
I also got a side of potato chips with powdered liquorice. This was maybe one of the best things I have ever eaten. The chips were crispy, perfectly seasoned and surprisingly light–the exact opposite as I had found them in December. The powdered liquorice added an herbal sweetness to the chips. I was a bit horrified that they were served with ketchup, but I tried to ignore that and focused on their crunchy, salty, liquoricey goodness. I washed it all down with Le Baladin’s Isaac.
Overall, I find Open Baladin a pleasant place for a late or early lunch (the service goes a bit haywire during the rush (though I should mention the lunch servers are very nice, just too easily overwhelmed when the place is slammed). And it is undeniably an excellent place to drink Italian microbrews. I’d say the food and presentation isn’t flawless, but then again if I didn’t think Open Baladin cared about their food and its presentation, the assessment would be moot. I’ll keep going back to try more beers, and hopefully the improvements will continue. Who know’s I might finally break down and try the burger again!
Via degli Specchi 6 Roma