Friday, June 7, 2013

Restaurant Week Day 3 -- Ibiza Tapas

This week I'll be visiting area restaurants for Northampton Restaurant Week and blogging about the experience. Restaurant Week runs until Sunday, June 9, and is a great way to get a 3 course meal at any of the many amazing restaurants in downtown Northampton for only $20-25!*

Last night my roommate and I randomly decided to squeeze in another Restaurant Week dinner. Half because I was sick of cooking for my Pampered Chef party tonight, and half because we both really wanted to try out Ibiza Tapas. Ever since the tapas bar moved into the former BBQ joint downtown, I've been dying to visit. I love the idea of tapas because I'm a grazer--I'd prefer a bunch of different, small bites, as opposed to a huge meal of just one thing. This is why I load my plate at buffets and adore any sort of picnic or party food.

Picture via

And, of course I totally forgot my camera and you're left with pictures from my iphone. Since I have a "life proof" case on it, the lens is covered by a little bit of plastic and it makes all my pictures blurry. Ugh. We requested a window seat, which helps with the picture taking, but by the time we were seated all hope of natural lighting was gone.

Grainy Roommates.

We started off with a pitcher of sangria while we waited for our table. Sangria is my go-to summer drink, and I was excited to try it from an authentic Spanish restaurant. Though I prefer white wine, my roommate is not a fan of it so we got the red. I definitely was not disappointed, it was sweet and fruity and boozy--everything a good sangria should be. We had to stop ourselves from downing it quickly, so that we'd have some left to sip with our meal. Had we not been driving, we would have gotten a second pitcher for sure. If I had more money to work with, I would have tried more of their wines! 

After a long wait for our table, we dissected the Restaurant Week menu. Because it's a Tapas bar, instead of a three course meal you choose two savory tapas (a cold option and a hot option) and one sweet. The waitress even offered to let me trade my dessert for an extra savory tapa, which was seriously tempting. I was feeling a little less hungry, somehow the sangria filled me up I guess?, so I ordered two cold tapas instead of a hot and cold, and it was a VERY tough decision since I pretty much wanted EVERYTHING on the menu--Grilled watermelon salad, spicy butternut squash soup, calamari, lamb-stuffed peppers, it all looked fantastic! Both my roommate and I decided on the Nevat Cheese with Figs and Walnuts (Queso Nevat con Higos y Nueces) to start.

This was served on little toasts with a side of mixed greens and drizzled with a generous amount of truffle oil. Dear god this was divine. I could have eaten a whole plate of this and been satisfied for the night, and I am determined to re-create it at home sometime. The creamy goat cheese, the sweet fig chunks, crunchy walnuts and toast and the fresh greens with the earthy truffle oil--so good. I am salivating just thinking about it. Truly the standout dish of the evening. It's part of their regular menu, so I will definitely get this next time I'm in.

For my second tapa, I got the ceviche--mostly because I've never had it before and the idea of fish being cooked by citrus fascinates me. It was good, nice and refreshing, but I kind of wish I'd gotten a warm tapa after all. It tasted like a salsa or gazpacho, and I would have appreciated some chips of some sort to scoop it up with. My roommate, who spent time in Spain and in South America, took a bite thinking that she wouldn't like it, since she didn't like it when she was abroad, and said it was better than the ceviche she had in either place.

My roommate got a hot tapa, the Mushroom Rice with Grilled Asparagus. I stole a few bites and it was pretty amazing. I assume the rice was risotto, or at least tossed in some creamy sauce, since it was moist and flavorful. The truffle oil again was evident and enhanced the taste of the mushrooms in the rice. I'm not sure I would order this again, as there are so many other things on the menu I'd rather try, but it was a delicious bite.

Finally, the desserts! I got the chocolate croquettes and the presentation made me giggle. So many spoons! However, it was perfect, since you really need to eat the croquettes whole. Little balls of crunchy almond cookie-like texture filled with melted chocolate--amazing! I assume the "whipped cream" is actually the coconut cream in the description, and that the lemon gelatin is hiding somewhere in the croquette itself. So good, I would totally order this again.

My roommate got the drunken apple. It was good, we both found it a little weird. It was a wine-infused apple with "flan foam." We both agreed it would have been much better with ice cream, and it was a little hard to cut into with the provided spoon. It was tasty enough, but we didn't end up finishing it. The croquettes won for best dessert.

I hesitate to really review the service, because it was clear that they were very busy and very under-staffed. The woman at the front of the house, who appeared to be the manager, was also bussing tables, running food, doing dishes, and we even saw her mopping at one point. Then she became our waitress when ours left for the night. So, yes, we waited very long for a table (we did request a window seat, and did not call ahead to reserve a table, but there was one available it just hadn't been set for about 20 minutes), fairly long to get our orders taken and then longer to receive our first dish, and our food came out at wildly different times.  My roommate would be half finished with her plate when my plate would come--though I'm wondering if they just assumed we were sharing everything? Either way--I've been a waitress, a hostess, I've worked in a short-order kitchen and been a fry/grill cook for a busy snack bar in a park--I GET it. I understand, some nights you're just off and it has nothing to do with the staff and everything to do with things that are out of your control. I won't take this as indicative of how the restaurant is usually, and I'm definitely going to give it another chance because the food and the wine were definitely worth it!

Restaurant Week Posts: Mulino's Trattoria, Eastside Grill

*FYI: these are NOT sponsored posts! I have received nothing for free, I just LOVE Restaurant Week and wanted to give my favorite foodie spots in Western Mass a little love :)

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