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Published on June 4th, 2013 | by Celina


Consider Plan B For Unique Spanish Tapas

The serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation since there is time to speak in between dishes. And due to the ability to try a variety of dishes in one sitting, there is plenty of room to be clever and experimental. But traditional tapas can sometimes be disappointing; the same dry rings of calamari, the bland meatballs, the overstuffed olives floating in olive oil.

Created by owner and culture connoisseur Hemant Phul, Plan B is anything but boring. The menu highlights a unique union of contemporary Northern Spanish Catalan Tapas and an innovative beverage program influenced by the autonomous Basque region of Spain. The restaurant’s owner and staff create an effortless shrine to the cuisine, culture, and spirit of the regions, working to create food and beverage menus in tandem. Although the menu did include a lot of the traditional options, this definitely exceeded the same-old tapas I anticipated.  The selection was broad and extremely diverse, the menu speckled with items like python sausage, duck neck, blood sausage, and even bull testicles.

Even the decor was both eccentric and creative. Designed by Sumesh Menon, the rustic environment evokes a strangely urban Barcelona street scape with it’s dark corners and exposed brick walls. Banquettes lined the wall, horse hides draped alluringly over them. In the enormous window seats, we sat surrounded by a forest of sawed-off olive branches. A mural coats an entire wall of the establishment, reminding one of the street graffiti commonly seen in Barcelona. The lighting was dimmed following our arrival but the streetlight flowing through the floor to ceiling windowed storefront created an ethereal ambiance. Jars of embalmed octopi and taxidermy roosters sat in various corners of the establishment. Even the music kept us guessing, with some covers we had never heard before.

We were encouraged to try the signature drink, a Skuntz, which was developed by Plan B’s bar manager, Tess Sawyer. With muddled orange, bourbon, hibiscus, honey syrup, and traditional Basque cider (which was very refreshing on its own), the cocktail was a lovely start to our adventurous meal. We were also intrigued by the array of spirits including sherries, vermouths, a carefully curated list of Spanish & French wines, ports, and craft beers.

We endeavored to try the Goat Cheese Croquettes ($9) which was a simple and delicious combo of fried goat cheese and matchstick beets. Coated with a red chile honey, the beets were tender while the cheese added a bit of salty crunch.

The signature Chicharrones Tuiles ($5) are none other than deep-fried pork skin with a subtle sweep of garlic aioli, served atop a cilantro cookie. The cookie itself was delicious and could easily have been included later with our dessert. But the pork skins left a bit to be desired, still attached to a bit of fatty pork back that quickly made our lips shine.

The Pencil Asparagus ($10) was a favorite if only for its simple and delicate flavor. Not overpowered by the red chili or shaved Manchego cheese on top, the lightly sauteed asparagus got its time to shine. Paella Shooters ($12) were a creative and daring dish of mussel, shrimp, clam, and chorizo served in a white wine and shellfish broth served in, you guessed it, a shooter glass. The broth and seafood was delicious but the whole thing seemed lacking in one of the best parts about paella- the rice!

The Striped Bass ($13) was placed elegantly atop a bed of charred tomatoes and drizzled with some sherry vinegar, garlic and parsley. The fish had perfectly crisp skin on one side and was tender on the other. Rabbit meatballs ($14) were soaked in a delicious oregano demi-glaze and topped off with a fine amount of grated Manchego cheese. While the sauce was perfect, the meatballs could have been anything, ranging from turkey to lamb.

The Duck heart souffle ($13) impressed us with its beautiful presentation and texture but for the less adventurous in our group, the taste fusion left something to be desired. The egg soufflé was delightfully puffy and light while the duck pâté was a rich creamy complement. On the other hand, the Morcilla, a Spanish blood sausage ($10) coated with dense mole, was intriguing and well-prepared but the presentation left something to be desired.

Finishing strong, the Hibiscus and Cynar Ice cream sandwiches ($8) was delicious. However, these wee treats might leave you wanting more, though they are perfect to share. The Churros ($7) were the highlight of the meal, some of the best that we have had in New York City. Perfectly fried and not too oily, the cinnamon sugar clung wonderfully to our fingers and we found ourselves licking the plate for crumbs, and enjoying every morsel of the cayenne dark chocolate sauce.

The service was attentive and informative, stopping to read us a description of each dish before placing it very ceremoniously before us. But staff paid too much attention on clearing our table of plates and therefore disrupted conversations and made the dining a bit awkward. A final touch: at the end of the meal, we were served our check with a unique twist: a different sort of Plan B, a condom!

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About the Author

Celina Kelly is passionate about New York, scarves, and puppies. She also loves writing about herself in the third-person. She graduated from Barnard College having double majored in English & German Literature. While a student, she worked with The New Yorker as part of the editorial department for ‘Goings On About Town’. Since she was not busy enough, she added a concentration of creative writing, completing her thesis project in the form of a yet-unpublished novel under the guidance of a bestselling author. Celina operates a retail store on the Upper West Side, where she spends most of her time. She enjoys being able to design, order and merchandise a new collection twice a year with the help of a talented staff of minions. She is also currently pursuing a certificate in Millinery at the Fashion Institute of Technology. If you ask her nicely, she might make you a hat!

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