Posted April 15, 2010on:
My boyfriend had his 22nd birthday this past Saturday. Of course, that meant eating a lot of good food. I mean, that’s what I do on my birthday, at least, and that’s what we did on his. (I should just get to the food…it’s late and my introduction isn’t making any sense)
Friday night, Andrew insisted that I take him to one of my favorite restaurants instead of him picking where he wanted to go (way to be difficult). Since I couldn’t decide on what my favorite Atlanta restaurant is, I decided to try Iberian Pig in Decatur (yay for my college town!), per my brother’s suggestion, and my brother’s restaurant recommendations haven’t failed yet. I didn’t tell Andrew that I’d never been to this place, since he had given me specific instructions. It’s one of my favorite restaurants now…so I didn’t exactly go against what he asked.
Anyway, here’s what we had.
Charcuterie and Cheese
Jamon Iberico—cured Iberian pig meat. Maybe it’s my unrefined palate for meat, but it just tasted like prosciutto. Not to say it wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t as good as what we paid for it.
To go along with that, we had some Manchego cheese (a very yummy semi-hard cheese) and some sort of cheese that was like a Spanish version of brie.
We ate a salad that was the special for the night, so I couldn’t tell you the name of it. I do know that it was arugula dressed in Meyer lemon vinaigrette, with Meyer lemon wedges, strawberries, onions, toasted hazelnuts, and goat cheese. It was good and refreshing, and without doubt the lightest thing we ate all evening.
We ordered two tapas.
1) Pork Cheek tacos–if you go to Iberian Pig, you must order these. In fact, go specifically for these. They. Are. Phenomenal. And I don’t even care for pork that much. The tacos are in a hard shell, which I normally don’t like, but they’re small and the shells were light and crispy, not really thick like most taco shells are. The roasted pork cheek was slightly sweet and smoky, and incredibly tender. And the roasted corn salsa was great…but I love roasted corn to begin with. I woke up the next morning wanting more of the tacos…that’s how good they are.
2) Calamares—this was alright. It was calamari stuffed with vegetables and cooked in tomato sauce (which was basically a spicy vegetable stew) and topped with some cheese. Not my favorite thing we had, probably because to me it just tasted like vegetable soup. It was good…but seriously. It was vegetable soup with squid in it. Nothing astounding.
I guess I should mention that, again per Andrew’s instructions, I picked everything above for us to eat. He wouldn’t choose, but he did agree to choose the main plate. He chose Spanish Lamb Ribs. Our waiter came back and told us they were out of lamb. So then Andrew made me choose again. And I, for some reason, chose the Bone-In Ribeye. I don’t eat steak generally, so I don’t know what possessed me to order it. But whatever part of my brain said “Ooh, choose the steak!” I would really, really like to thank it.
The bone-in ribeye was cooked medium rare (Andrew did choose that, which I was happy with…if I’m going to eat steak, it’s gonna be medium rare) with “roasted garlic and port wine butter, caramelized fennel and shallots” with the Manchego Macaroni and Cheese on the side. Okay. Roasted garlic and port wine butter??? how could this steak not be fantastic??? I thought it was outstanding, even if steak generally isn’t my thing (I seemed to be in a carnivorous mood that night…I ordered pork and steak in the same meal, and I never really eat those). I think he thought it was good too…he managed to get every bit of meat off that bone. Basically, we demolished that steak. The mac and cheese was good, but I still prefer the good ol’ Cheddar cheese kind.
So, that was the end of eating for Friday night. Iberian Pig is a really cool restaurant. It was really crowded, so I definitely recommend making reservations (I did, and I’m glad I did). It was also loud, just from the sheer number of people in there, but it wasn’t obnoxiously loud (trust me…I’ve been in obnoxiously loud restaurants). Our waiter was very personable, but spoke a little too fast to catch everything he said about the evening’s specials, but after he found out when we first stepped in that it was our first time, he was kind enough to offer to guide us through the menu and the ordering process, or to let us fend for ourselves. We took him up on his offer, but I thought it was cool of him not to just take over without asking us what we wanted to do. He was also very attentive, despite the crowd. The bar seemed really cool, so I definitely want to go back when I’m 21 and see what that’s like. Next time I go, I think I’ll skip the main plate and stick to the tapas. And definitely stick to the Pork Cheek tacos. Yum.
Saturday night, on his actual birthday, we went out with his family to Maggiano’s. It’s an Italian restaurant in Buckhead. Nothing fancy (it must be to high schoolers though…there a ton of prom parties there that night). Just a typical Italian restaurant…it’s by no means the best Italian I’ve ever eaten (that’s reserved for the random Italian restaurant my mom and I stopped in when we were in Little Italy in NYC, that I’m not sure I could find again if I wanted to), but it’s good, and Andrew really likes it. Plus, it’s good for a group. They have this cool thing called a family style dinner where you get to pick two appetizers, two salads, two pastas, two entrees, and two desserts, then they bring it out to you, and you share it as a group for a fixed price per person, depending on what type you get. They’ll also keep refilling your plates. We picked the “Light” option, which consisted of two appetizers, two salads, and two pastas, and instead of two desserts they bring you these amazingly delicious little lemon cookies (must learn how to make those). It was way more than enough food, with leftovers. We had Tomato Caprese (tomato slices topped with fresh mozzarella slices, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar) and Bruschetta. For salads we chose the Caesar and the Spinach. I didn’t really eat the Caesar salad, but the Spinach salad was great. It had bacon, roasted red peppers and sauteed onions, and gorgonzola on it. I could eat that salad every day. Seriously. That and pork cheek tacos (okay…maybe not every day now that I think about it more. But I could eat them both a lot and be very happy) We had cheese ravioli (delicious!) and Chicken Pesto Linguine for our pastas. The cheese ravioli is really really good, but the chicken pesto linguine wasn’t anything special, in my opinion. I’ve had better.
I also made Andrew a cake for his birthday, also having been given specific instructions as to the ratio of yellow cake (and don’t call it vanilla cake mix by accident…he will correct you) to chocolate icing. More cake than icing, the icing has to be a thin layer. I think I did pretty well, considering I’m definitely a frosting girl (really. I could care less about the cake…it’s only there to hold up the frosting). He seemed to like it, and I was lame enough to put two candles on his piece when I brought it to him. I had thought about sticking 22 candles on the entire cake, but I didn’t really want to burn down his apartment, so I settled with two candles on one piece. Not as fun, but definitely more safe.
I thought it was a pretty good weekend. But it wasn’t about me this time, so I really hope he had a good birthday weekend :)