Houston food, restaurants and dining review. Urban living, travel, thoughts and other randomness.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Ibiza !

I first went to Ibiza Food & Wine Restaurant over two years ago to meet a marketing guru who also happens to run www.wineskinny.com.

Today, I went back at Rekha's behest. My interest in Ibiza's was re-ignited because Elithia said this is her favorite restaurant. The first few times here, I ordered a salad or soup and then a main course. This time, we looked at the menu and realized the "small dishes" make the most sense. Essentially, these are tapas. This part of the menu makes sense. On my initial visit, the tall hostess told us that the owners also ran a tapas place downtown. The tapas restaurant is apparently closed, though I can't seem to confirm either their ownership in the place or even its demise.

We started with sardines in olive oil. The dish is lacking in either originality or freshness. From the strong vinegar taste, the small size of the fish, and the complete lack of bones, I'd have to guess that Ibiza doesn't pickle the sardines on their own. Not that canned sardines are bad, they're just not worth paying for at a restaurant.

We also had the much more interesting green pepper and crab meat soup. Very good. It tastes like something between a tortilla soup and a much more exotic herbal soup. Well worth the order.

Next, our waiter brought out the manchengo cheese, Spanish olives and serrano ham. A complete waste of money. The cheese had an oily film over it from being cut earlier in the day and placed out in the humid air. The ham too was cut too early and had dried out. The Spanish olives were clearly canned and not of the best quality with bruising seen on many specimen.

Along with the cheese and ham, we had the very intersting smoked duck sausage stuffed inside a small red pepper. Turning game into sausage adds flavor because of the variety of tastes that the cook can add to large mammals like deer or pork. But Ibiza (or its vendor) pureed the duck to a pate-like consistency before placing it in the flavorful pepper. Great idea: they just need better execution.

We next tried the night's special, grilled scallops on a bed of something that tasted like an Ethiopian grain we had at a Richmond restaurant. The grain is called teff. Teff is used to make a flat pancake called engera. It tastes like slightly fermented pancake. It's the fermented taste that I don't like. On the other hand, the large scalloops were brilliant. Seared on the outside, Ibiza's chef took the medallions off the stove sooner than most restaurants and therefore preserved the sweetness of the meat. They then sprinkled a bit of sea salt (?) on top. Absolutely brilliant--especially given the propensity for other restaurants to overcook this delicate morsel and turn a melt-in-your mouth scallop into something more akin to squid.
We finished the meal with risotto. I agree with the excellent writers at gastroville who say that a well done risotto is a rare species given the quantity of risotto made daily. Ibiza failed to make a good risotto. Their rice came out undercooked and short-changed on the hydration front. Not even the clver use of cremini mushrooms and shavings of parmesan to fake a truffle flavor could overcome the lack of execution. Again, a great idea negated by poor execution.

The service was slow but polite. We wanted a leisurely meal and so didn't mind the pace, but others might not be so forgiving. Ibiza is better than I remember. It's inventive without pretension. Now, all it needs is execution.


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot!

July 12, 2006

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March 05, 2007


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