By Susie Timm, Head Cheese
I am often asked what my favorite restaurant in the Valley is. I respond always with the same answer: FnB. There is no hesitation or question, it is simply the best.
I have never written about my love of FnB. For many reasons I never felt that I could capture the flavors, textures and ambiance appropriately in written word. I could say that my entire opinion of vegetables has changed after many meals at FnB. I could tell you that my unwavering love of Rose was started at FnB. I could even say with no embarrassment that I wouldn’t mind eating FnB’s butterscotch pudding off my own arm if necessary.
I might even tell you that Chef Charleen Badman will undoubtedly win a James Beard Award–she’s incredibly deserving and even better–so humble that she’d be the last person to ever utter those words.
In another breath, I could tell you that Pavle Milic is a gem of a human being. He is charming, genuine and has some awesome tattoos. He is the sheer embodiment of customer service. There is none like him. Anywhere.
Instead of attempting to do justice to FnB, however, I want to share a story of lunch today. Badman and Milic have opened a trio of food and beverage: Bodega, Baratin and AZ Wine Merchants off of 5th Avenue and Craftsman Court in Old Town.
My dear parents who are about as far from culinary adventurers as one could be, picked me up for lunch today and I thought I’d give them a treat–trying out Baratin for the first time.
I knew it would be a risk–they are soup and salad, burger and fries type Midwesterners. However, I have taken them to FnB twice and both times (after initial apprehension)they told me it was some of the best vittles they have ever encountered.
Upon arriving at the bright and open space my parents checked out the menu and I popped over to Bodega to see for myself the local goodies they are selling. It is a nice mixture of fresh produce, meat and bread as well as other locally crafted products. I look forward to a return trip when I have more time to peruse the shelves.
Today’s menu at Baratin was adventurous to say the least. I could tell my parents were experiencing instant anxiety when attempting to figure out what to order.
I reviewed each option with them and we settled on a salad of Maya’s greens, shaved root vegetables, parmesan and sunflower seeds for my mother and the grilled butternut, tender belly bacon, goat cheese and arugula sandwich for my dad.
I ordered a glass of Rose and some citrus marinated olives and settled back into the very comfortable environment. Like FnB, Baratin is relatively transformative for me. I found myself thinking of various culinary travels to San Francisco or New York City.
Our food arrived and we dug in. A few minutes in my parents were oohing and aaahing about how delicious their lunches tasted. My mom remarked Badman’s shaved asparagus was “a hoot” (a Wisconsin term of endearment) and my dad enjoyed every bite.
For the foodie crowd, Baratin is certainly an instant hit. The ever-changing menu is comprised of house pickled eggs, vegetables, lots of fresh ingredients and most of it is light and pairs very well with their selection of wine. They offer many half bottles of wine and a selection by the glass as well.
Baratin made me smile and satisfied the palates of my 70-something parental units. Double-duty on a Thursday afternoon. Don’t take these words for granted-try out any of Badman and Milic’s culinary adventures for yourself. You won’t regret a bite.