WEEKEND | Restaurant Week: Ibiza

Ibiza Restaurant is animated. The atmosphere and the décor (a Spanish-futurist sort of aesthetic that barely misses pulling off the “retro” look), make it a vibrant experience. After a moment of self-pity (I was not sitting at the bar sharing drinks and tapas with una chica), I settled down with the Restaurant Week lunch menu. It offers a decent prix-fixe selection — baby back pork ribs, grilled salmon and pasta rizada. Not wanting to miss out, and, of course, for the sake of a comprehensive review, I decided to order two meals: the grilled Atlantic salmon and the pasta rizada, followed by caramel custard flan.

I began with the salmon. The presentation was wonderful — a chunky salsa of chopped tomatoes and a curly garnish crowned the fish. The salmon had great flavor, but the (small) portion was undercooked and extremely buttery.

Satisfied but not impressed, I continued to the Rizada; a curly pasta tossed with seasonal vegetables and a “light sage cream sauce.” I had high expectations, hoping for a distinctly cultural recipe from Spain. The dish, however, was extremely disappointing — curly pasta of the remove-from-plastic-bag-and-boil variety with tiny cubed vegetables (again, unquestionably from the bagged n’ chopped vegetables in the freezer section). The entire mix was swimming in a thin, runny sauce. If it contained sage, I was hard pressed to find it, but I am quite sure that at least two sticks of butter went into the making of my plate.

Needless to say, Ibiza had not won me over, but, as a flan enthusiast, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. The flan arrived in a simple yet elegant format — garnished with mint leaves and accompanied by a scoop of lemon ice cream (a pleasant surprise that hadn’t been included on the menu). I believe that flan is a hit-or-miss dessert, so I was braced for the worst. I was happy to discover that Ibiza serves one of the best, most velvety flans I have ever eaten. The custard was perfectly firm, with just enough caramel glaze to complement its creaminess. The pairing with lemon sorbet was exquisite — a perfect combination of flavors that I have never tried together.

I would not recommend Ibiza as a lunch destination during Restaurant Weeks to come, but if you are looking for a vibrant bar and the best flan in New Haven, it’s the perfect stop.

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