Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Iberian Pig

The Iberian Pig was phenomenal. The waiter informed us that it is a "modern Spanish restaurant." The majority of the menu is tapas and we made our meal tapas.

First, make a reservation. Second, go to The Iberian Pig. We arrived around 8:15 and had to wait an hour to an hour and a half for a table. It was well worth the wait and congratulations to the restaurant for doing that volume of business. The place was packed with people eating, people drinking and eating at the bar, and people standing waiting. The interior of the place and the energy of all the people gave the restaurant a great ambiance.

But the ambiance was not what made the restaurant amazing. It was the food! The restaurant is named after jamon Iberico, the famous Spanish ham. The pigs according to the waiter have an acorn diet. According to wikipedia though jamon Iberico just refers to the black breed of pig and when only labeled jamon Iberico it is from grain fed pigs. We started with some jamon Iberico, serrano ham, and manchego. The jamon Iberico and serrano ham are both cured ham.

I am glad we ordered both. The jamon Iberico is up top. There was about twice as much but we ate some before I remembered to take the picture. The serrano was delicious but it was amazing how much better the jamon Iberico was than the serrano. The Iberico is slightly sweet with a nice fatiness. It almost but not quite melts in your mouth. The jamon Iberico is pricy at fourteen dollars a plate. But I would recommend spending the money to try it once in your life. Manchego is a famous Spanish cheese. It is made from Manchega sheep. It is a firm cheese, firmer than your regular cheddar but softer than a parmesan. It has a delicious creaminess to it. The sauce below it is a pomegranate caramel. The sweetness of the sauce paired perfectly with the salty creaminess of the cheese. The olives were also excellent with the cheese or the meat. The sauce was an aioli that was great on the bread. It was great to combine the bread, the aioli, the manchego, and the serrano for a decadent bite, but it seemed a waste because everything was so good by itself.

Next we had pork cheek tacos.
The pork cheek meat was incredibly tender. It had a delightful sweet aftertaste. The restaurant needs to check their limes though. I have never had a lime so hard and dry before.

Next was asparagus with serrano ham, Manchego cheese, olive oil, and a Moscatel wine reduction.

The asparagus had a pleasant grilled taste, the smokiness from the grill, which paired excellently with the sweetness of the asparagus, the saltiness of the cheese and meat, and the umami of the meat.

Then we had eggplant fries with a spicy red pepper aioli dip.

The fries had a hard exterior which gave a nice crunch and a smooth interior. The flavors were a contrast of the sweet eggplant and the spicy aioli.

Then we had albondigas which were wild boar meatballs. The meatballs were stuffed with piquillo peppers, dates, and roasted tomatoes. They came in a pimenton cream sauce with oyster mushrooms.
These were the best meatballs I have ever eaten. They were amazing. They had a spice blend that gave a kick to them. The spices were similar to the taste of a peperoni. Almost indescribably good.

We also had barbecued octopus over potatoes, pork, and shallots.
The octopus was good but it was the weakest dish of the night. The octopus is cooked all day and then grilled. The long cooking process made the octopus tender and falling apart rather than chewy. Of course, it was still somewhat chewy. I'm not sure if it is possible to have octopus not be at least a little chewy. The barbecue sauce was very mild, unlike a strong Southern barbecue sauce.

Finally, we had tortoloni. The tortoloni was stuffed with goat cheese, manchego, and paprika. It was topped with a pistachio cream sauce, raisins, pine nuts, and olive oil.

It was incredibly rich. But here the tapas format was a major advantage. Because it was just a small dish, the richness was enjoyable rather than overwhelming or uncomfortable.

I would highly recommend The Iberian Pig. This was one of the best meals both I and my two companions have had in quite a while. I was worried that my never-ending hunger combined with the multitude of delicious sounding options would cause me to over order and spend a small fortune. Even with multiple glasses of wine the meal was still reasonable for the quality of the food and the efficient and friendly service. Just remember to make a reservation when you go.

The Iberian Pig
121 Sycamore Street
Decatur, GA 30030

As a bonus, here is the tapas portion of the menu.

The Iberian Pig on Urbanspoon

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