It’s been a while since I ate something in a restaurant that didn’t taste like something I could make in my kitchen. Then, inside of a couple of weeks, first the chicken pot pie at Rose 32, then the meal at Ibiza. Bring it on.
We met some friends at IBIZA TAPAS, which is the way to eat here. With four of us, we kept ordering tapas in groups of two or three as we talked. The kitchen is pretty fast, so the food kept coming at a very reasonable pace. And, for the most part, the food was polished and well flavored.
We started with the croquetas bacalao (salt cod fritters) and the Codero Asado, a braised short rib. The salt cod featured eight bite-sized balls with a dot of good mayonnaise. Crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, not a trace of salt. The short rib came as four pieces, a pile of braised meat on top of a slice of toast, garnished with some fried garbanzos with a slight crust and a creamy interior.
The next course were two cold dishes, a martini-glass filled with ceviche of (cooked) shrimp and bay scallops in a saffron-coconut sauce and Atun Marinado, a poke-like mix of chopped raw tuna, tomatos, scallions, chopped black olives, lemon and, I think, a little sesame oil. Our server cautioned us that the dish was deceptive—people thought that it was simply a pile of tomatoes. He was correct in both ways—on first glance, it seemed mostly tomato because of the color of the tuna. But each mouthful was full of tuna. If the place runs into financial difficulties, here’s a place they can cheat, but it’s not happening today. Our friend Tomma and I were reduced to drinking the coconut sauce for the ceviche, which might not have been traditional, but was too good to let go.
Our final group was Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes topped with a spicy tomato sauce), Lomo de Cerdo Embuchado (sliced roast pork loin, topped with melted tetilla cheese and a vinegary black olive and tomato salsa) and Albondigas de la Abuela (veal and pork meatballs). Not to insult anyone’s grandmother, but the Albondigas were the only disappointment of the night. Four meatballs, cooked potatoes and red pepper strips in a tasty broth, the meatballs were a little rubbery. Since I’ve made several recipes of these, I was eager to taste Ibiza’s. The rest was up to the standards of the previous dishes.
Dessert was another tapa, Queso Nevat con Higos y Nueces ( a fig laced goat cheese on slices of toast) and Croquetas de Chocolate—four balls of deep dark chocolate covered in hazelnuts and briefly fried. Served in a teaspoon on a little square of lemon curd, I saved mine for the last bite.
The menu divides the cold and hot tapas into Traditional and Modern sections, which gives the kitchen some room to play. There are larger dishes and, on the night we were there, several paellas, but it’s going to be a while before I run out of the tapas to taste. The kitchen likes servings of four, which makes it easy to share.
The wine list is heavy on the Spanish grapes, like Temreanillo, whether the country of origin is Spain or someplace else. I had a sweet Sherry, like a nut-flavored ice wine as well. The meal, for four, with wine, was $101 and we all left satisfied. Definitely worth checking out, preferably with some company.