I was invited this week to sample alternative Spanish fare at the newest tapas restaurant and bar in Nolita, Plan B. The concept behind the name and menu comes from an “alternative culture of Facebook-ers and skateboarders” in Spain, explains restaurant manager Michael Ciccoricco. Though the derivation is questionable, you get a sense of what they’re going for from the red condom included in the restaurant’s press kit.
A cool glass of Skuntx (pronounced “Skunts”) is placed on the table along with a sample of the potent and quirky Basque cider from where it takes its strength. The cocktail has a summery fragrance and each ingredient from orange to bourbon and hibiscus to honey has a notable presence. It tastes as lovely as it smells.
The starters are less impressive. While the dishes are all impeccably dressed, the fried pork skin on a savory cookie is soft to the bite, lacking the crunch that you expect when you read the word “fried” or view the pork skin sitting on wafer-like crisps. It’s like a miniature sandwich. The asparagus is drowned in chili oil and works as a side dish but not necessarily on its own plate. My water glass is refilled twice.
Paella shooters and grilled octopus arrive next, and taste buds are compensated for the chili ordeal. The seafood is all perfectly cooked in their own flavours and I’ve never eaten such tender octopus. The former food critic across from me agrees and says this is his favourite dish so far. A+
But it’s the plate of bulls’ testicles that Plan B has invited us here to try and they’re served next with pickled onion and sautéed watercress alongside rabbit meatballs in a sweet demi-glaze. The consistency of the “Rocky Mountain oysters” is reminiscent of densely packed fish balls and the grittiness is only slightly unsettling. The pickled onion is a perfect complement to the meat and makes the prolonged chewing enjoyable. Though the dish is small, it’s better shared.
Having sampled the main dish, I relax and treat my mouth with small sips of Txakolina which is absolutely divine! It’s smooth, sweet, light, and a perfect ending to the evening.
Plan B is a great plan A for drinks on a first date where the ingredients on the menu are better served as conversation starters. Shoot for the paella and octopus if you’re peckish.
For more food reviews, visit Gastrofork.ca