Plan B—Creatively Twisted Tapas

| June 24, 2013

plan bInfluenced by two vibrant northern Spanish regions, this Nolita newcomer really hits the mark. Located at 244 Mulberry Street, entering Plan B was an experience that aroused all of the senses. This is a simple, yet beautifully adorned, classic brick-faced downtown eatery that celebrates the romanticism of the urban decay of metropolitan Spain, while embracing the ancient Roman philosophy of the “fifth quarter.”

The division of the cattle in ancient Rome followed this format:  the first "quarto" was dedicated to be sold to the Nobles, the second one was for the clergy, the third for the Bourgeoisie and the fourth was for the soldiers. The proletariat could afford only what remained, the "fifth quarter," meaning useless or worthless. This would include inner organs, hooves, heads, tails, glands, brains, sweetbreads, even testicles. Over time, the superior culinary talents of the poor became renowned and these dishes ultimately evolved into delights for connoisseurs. These dishes delivered in the format of Basque and Catalonian tapas are at the center of the menu presented at Plan B. Add to that an extremely innovative beverage program rife with ‘impossible to find’ libations and you are in for a serious treat.

We started off our exploration of this exquisite cuisine with a Nectar De Negroni (Fords gin, prickly pear, Carpano Antica vermouth, plan B tablesPeychauds bitters)—a dreamy interpretation of the classic which replaces the bitter Campari with velvety prickly pear juice. Topped with a candied hibiscus flower, this was a heavenly interpretation. Keeping our cocktails company, we happily indulged in the Chicharron Tuiles (fried pork skin,‎ savory cookie, garlic aioli) and the  Octopus (marinated & grilled,‎ Iberian pesto). The Chicharron was absolutely heavenly and the octopus was far and away the most tender I have ever had. I still cannot figure out how they got it to such a delicate consistency. Paella Shooters (mussel, shrimp, clam, chorizo, white wine, shellfish broth), Rabbit Meatballs (oregano, demi-glaze, grated manchego) and Pencil Asparagus (pencil asparagus, balsamic,‎ red chili, grated manchego cheese) were the next to the table. While the Rabbit Meatballs were beautifully tender, it was the Paella Shooters that was clearly star of this course.  A brilliant interpretation, this briny work of art in a glass would satisfy even the most stringent of critics. Paired with another beautiful and impossible to find glass of wine, this was an extremely memorable moment.

After happily moving on another exquisite creation, the Skuntx (muddled orange, bourbon, hibiscus, honey syrup, basque cider), we were presented with an array of delights that truly articulate the fifth quarter. The Morcilla (Spanish blood sausage, mole), Duck Heart Soufflee (duck heart mousse, pastry) and Bull Testicles (marinated, seared, yukon gold mash, spinach) were a bold and truly tasty array of delicacies. Although possibly feared by some, these culinary delights are worth putting on the game face and giving a try. It is not what you might expect.

After a lovely glass of Port, it became rather clear. Plan B truly has something for everyone—a beautiful environment, a wide array of tastes for many palettes and top-notch service. I’ll be back.