My ideal Friday night is simple - I don't ask for much: All I want is a delicious meal with my man... accompanied by an even more delicious bottle of wine (or two)... in a softly lit room...somewhere not too far...with a bill that won't break the bank. See, I'm easy (restrain yourselves, Michael Scotts of the world).
I've been around town (sorry, too easy), and I've definitely found a number of restaurants that meet my criteria. One of my hands down favorites? Ibiza Food & Wine Bar on Louisiana Street in Midtown. This place is special enough for birthdays (ask and they'll bring out a plate of cotton candy with a sparkler!), but this past weekend, we went to celebrate something perhaps even more special: a Friday.
With a backlit wall filled entirely by bottles of wine, Ibiza and I were fast friends. We were even closer once I checked out the prices (the Clark Cooper Concepts restaurant prices wine just above retail). Being Malbec lovers, we chose the Navarro Correas Alegoría Gran Reserva Malbec ($21), a bright, medium-bodied red from Argentina with accents of blackberry, chocolate and cherry.
The French, Spanish and Mediterranean influence of the menu pulsates through the restaurant with chic, modern décor and a cool, bohemian vibe. Feeling relaxed, we happily sipped on our first glass while perusing the menu of small plates, soups, salads, upscale pizzas and entrees. After hearing the specials, we skipped our usual charcuterie and cheese plate for the amazing sounding Buratta Cheese & Tomato Salad. The buttery, creamy mozzarella, thick, beefy tomato, and peppery arugula drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned to perfection did not disappoint. Our server brought the salads over with a complimentary bread basket, which I then proceeded to clean my plate with.
Next, we ordered the Crisp Calamari ($11). The plate arrived looking large enough to feed a party of six, but we marched on, doing our best to devour the crunchy, seasoned fried squid as we dipped them in a tangy Lime Sambal Chili Aioli (we didn't really come close). At this point, filling up and just polishing off our first bottle of wine, we decided it was best to split the entrée...and order a second bottle of wine, of course - this time a Camaraderie Cellars 2006 Syrah ($25), an equally enjoyable fruity red with hints of pepper.
For the main event, we enjoyed the Baseball Cut Beef Tenderloin ($31 + $3 split charge), a top sirloin cooked to a perfect medium and served with a heady red wine shallot confit. My knife cut through the steak like butter (did you see their steak? It was like buttehh! Like butteh!!), each tender bite practically melting in my mouth. Not to be outdone, the creamiest macaroni and cheese came served alongside a mix of light, lemony roasted vegetables. The broiled mac, looking divine in mini cast iron dishes that I covet for my own kitchen, was velvety, sharp and tangy, topped by a heaven-sent crisp and cheesy crust. It may have been the wine talking, but at this point, I'm pretty sure I wanted to make love to the plate...is that too far?
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We chose to forgo dessert this time (out of necessity - I had to prevent the button on my jeans from just completely popping off). I can however, vouch for the rich, delectable Mocha Espresso Bread Pudding that we've indulged in previously when we had not downed two bottles of red wine like animals. The cake-like, chocolaty bread pudding is paired with a sweet Jamaican rum caramel sauce and thick vanilla ice cream.
Luckily, we cabbed it to the restaurant, so we payed the totally reasonable bill and took a nice stroll to a friend's place in hopes of walking off some of our fullness.