/Return to Open Baladin

Return to Open Baladin

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!

Open Baladin
Via degli Specchi 6 Roma

2016-01-09T14:01:07+00:00 September 8th, 2010|Categories: Beer, Carbs, Meat, Restaurants, Rome & Lazio|17 Comments


  1. Gabriel Hummel September 9, 2010 at 4:42 am - Reply

    powdered liquorice?

    powdered f-ing liquorice?

    Let me get this straight. Gelato, pasta, pizza, amazing wine, beautiful women, and powdered liquorice all in one city?

    Be right back, buying a plane ticket now.

  2. paolino September 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    “I am really quite fragile when it comes to these things”
    Ohh santo cielo!!

  3. Katie September 9, 2010 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    @gabriel f-ing liquorice. Like the turducken of snacks, there is no logical reason for these components to coexist, but once you’ve tasted them, they should never be apart.

    @paolino you are familiar with the concept of irony, yes? 🙂

  4. […] Related Posts: Return to Open Baladin […]

  5. Sarah May September 10, 2010 at 11:33 am - Reply

    “I find burger disappointment devastating”
    I salute you for this masterpiece of a line. One of the best things I have ever read.

  6. Katie September 10, 2010 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    @Sarah May Why thank you! Sadly the tone and meaning of this statement are lost in translation.

  7. Mick_P September 11, 2010 at 9:23 am - Reply

    What about those beer prices, Katie? I know small breweries need to be supported, but the last time I went to Open Baladin it was the prices that I found most devastating. If beer has to be sipped for fear of the price of the next glass, something’s gone wrong. I want to be able to ruin my liver before my finances.

  8. Katie September 11, 2010 at 10:33 am - Reply

    The beer still costs €5 a glass, with a volume of 33cL. I wouldn’t call Le Baladin a small brewery and I find it counterintuitive to charge so much in a brewery owned pub unless the beer in question is exceptional and more expensive to produce (barrel aged, for example).

    In Rome, major craft breweries or their buddies own the very places craft beers products are sold and distributed. Open Baladin/Le Baladin is just one example. Leonardo Di Vincenzo (Birra del Borgo) is part owner at Bir&Fud (the restaurant and shop) which is linked to Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa’ and Domus Birrae. It all seems a bit monopolistic to me and more aimed at earning money than creating an egalitarian beer culture in Rome. Certainly some beers at Open and other places should cost more than others but charging a flat price all across the board is ridiculous and sets craft beer up as an inaccessible product for most and one in which price does not signify quality.

  9. Hande September 13, 2010 at 9:54 am - Reply

    “I find burger disappointment devastating and I’m not willing to risk it. I am really quite fragile when it comes to these things.” Two of your best sentences…
    We *had to* eat a burger there in August (long story that involves “appropriate public behavior when with Italian friends”) and though I still don’t want to eat burgers there, they were better (juicier) but still rather tasteless, in the literal meaning of the word.

  10. Katie September 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    Haha “appropriate public behavior”. I love that.

    I think I have figured out what is so wrong with the burgers there/nearly everywhere in Italy. And Im going to write a post about it this week…cliffhanger!!!

  11. Hande September 20, 2010 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    what’s wrong with the burgers in Italy? you mean apart from the fact that most of these burger-makers have never had a decent one they could strive towards? I think it is the fat – they think a hamburger is just a fried/grilled lump of tartare (which you can get very nice examples of since good beef is obviously existent) hence it painfully lacks the essential fat and the hold & taste it would bring.
    Am excited to hear what you write about this.

  12. Hande September 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    obviously I would be the eight world wonder if I “hear” what you “write”.

  13. Hande September 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    and can’t spell anymore, either *sigh*

  14. Katie September 21, 2010 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    haha dont worry i cannot spell, nor will i ever be able to. let’s just make peace with our shortcomings;)

    i think you are absolutely correct about the lack of fat. both gourmet burgers as well as those of the fast food persuasion (i am speaking of in-n-out, not mcd’s) have a significant fat content. in-n-out is 60% lean and that 40% fat makes all the difference in taste. there are a bunch of other factors at work here and im eager to hear your thoughts. ill send you the link as soon as the post is up!

  15. Gluttons Gone Wild November 13, 2010 at 1:58 am - Reply

    […] excessive? Well, while Semsa napped this afternoon, I visited Open Baladin for a flight of beers, potato croquettes, and liquorice…then ate straight butter and Casa de […]

  16. […] wine bars are Il Goccetto, Remigio, and La Barrique. For beer, I love Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa, Open Baladin, The Blind Pig, and Brasserie 4:20. Don’t miss pizza by the slice at Pizzarium or pizza […]

  17. […] Litro, Bulzoni, Il Goccetto, Remigio, and La Barrique. For beer, I love Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, Open Baladin, Birra +, no.au (for wine, too), Stavio, and Brasserie 4:20. The Jerry Thomas Project, Litro, […]

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