Suits stiffly gather by day during Ibiza’s power lunch. A parking lot resembling a massive Mercedes dealership adds to the hustle bustle business vibe. While recently waiting for lunch service to commence, I began to investigate the premise of the patio.
Like a well thought out plan, the towering tinted window seemingly ached for me to shuffle & semi-rustle my hair in its remarkable reflection. Suddenly, it felt as though I were a bartender babe working at Reef, as primp signals were quickly sent toward this scary section of my bewildered brain… A vanity check in this sadly susceptible spot guarantees a fantastic fail. There were no customers on the other side bearing witness to this exposé, oh no… Instead, innocently conducting a pre-shift meeting were almost… 14 servers, 2 managers, and 1 chef.
Hold your applause.
The first task is trying to decide if it’s the layout of the open kitchen or the layout of chef Charles Clark that spins my bottle. His contagious energy is accompanied with an alluring boyish charm. With that being said, reality rips. As with Reef recently, ceasing to exist is the ever present pip in one’s sashay. No flip in this flop. Nada. It’s not to say there aren’t exceptional wines at insanely affordable prices, accompanied with an exotic décor, and semi salivating selections.
Yet, regardless of like, dislike, pip, or skip… enough already… It shouldn’t take being bored during a layover at the airport on my, cough… 29th birthday… to write about Ibiza. The lack of present motivation is exhausting.
Moving right along…
Is this chef talented with a fair bit of… debonair? Absolutely. While being terrifically troubled with feelings of an inner to the core bore, let us waste no time speaking of my one on one with… the chef.
We began by discussing the departure of partner Chris Shepherd, from Catalan Food & Wine. One could only imagine Clark’s feelings are positive for Shepherd’s future, as they have been friends for quite some time. He, Shepherd, and Randy Evans (of Haven) all attended culinary school together. Clark expressed delight for his friend, wishing continued success using his exceptional talent. Houston waits in great anticipation for the opening of Chris Shepherd’s… Underbelly.
Although the pan-fried oysters are served with Tasso cream, this chef is more than happy to deliver without. A signature dish of Clark’s is the grilled shrimp with crabmeat cornbread, which is also served with Tasso cream. These items can be found in the small plates section of the menu. There are an overwhelming number of choices here, including Spanish white anchovies, yellowtail himachi, calamari, Spanish picuillo peppers stuffed with local goat cheese, and ceviche with pink shrimp, avocado, lime, and shrimp toast.
A personal favorite is the baked French brie with dried cherries in Malvasia wine. Delicious from start to finish, stopping was not an option. If traveling with a carnivore, options are limited in this section. Tiny meatballs with sriracha & mushrooms or Spanish piquillo peppers stuffed with braised beef short ribs. Oh, let us not forget the always tantalizing, gulp, crispy chicken livers with mojo sauce.
The roasted beets with imported Spanish goat cheese, although tasty, didn’t really make a difference. If only the second choice had become reality… basque green pepper & crab bisque. Another soup laying patiently in wait is an Andalusia style of gazpacho.
There are several pizzas on the menu… The fresh goat cheese with Portabella mushrooms and oven dried tomatoes is served with apple smoked bacon. After kindly requesting…no bacon, a substitution of gulf shrimp quickly occurred. Ibiza also has a burrata cheese & crispy pancetta pizza with arugula, as well as a fresh mozzarella, tomato, roasted garlic & fruity olive oil pizza.
To begin creating the mozzarella salad, cherry tomatoes are sliced in half, placed on a bed of arugula, and tossed with julienne basil. Oven roasted black pepper and Spanish olive oil are included in preparing this salad, with fresh mozzarella being placed on top. Other salads include an iceberg wedge with green goddess dressing, as well as Caesar with hearts of romaine, spinach, and arugula.
Lobster risotto is prepared with pea broth. Peas, corn, and wilted greens are mixed with fresh lobster meat & risotto. This particular dish arrived creamy & flavorful with lots of lobster meat! Impressive.
For dessert, the mocha espresso bread pudding arrived with a surprisingly different appearance than expected. Leftover bread from the restaurant is soaked in espresso & chocolate then served with Madagascar vanilla ice cream & Jamaican rum caramel… Positively different than the usual bread pudding, this one is surely capable of producing… dinner ending happiness.
Charles Clark indeed brings charisma to his kitchen. For those making their way to Ibiza Food & Wine, the Mediterranean tapas style menu offers an extensive variety of fish & veggies. Servers at Ibiza have acquired menu knowledge as though they were in the kitchen cooking themselves. During this endeavor, AVH wishes all Houstonians, um… good luck in finding a way to complete this feat.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch