I first read about the Iberian Pig in Daily Candy. Immediately I knew I had to visit…soon. As it turns out, the Iberian Pig was started by the same folks who brought us Sugo, a Greek/Mediterranean rest with locations in Duluth and Roswell. I’ve never been but a consultant friend of mine who has been working out of the Duluth area and frequenting Sugo quite often raves about them. So he was determined to be one of the first to visit their new crib. And I was only too happy to accompany him.
All in all there were four in our party. We had reservations for 7:30 on a recent Thursday night. But due to traffic and mostly because this place is nearly hidden, I didn’t arrive til 8. There’s no sign on the front door or windows (just a small sign above the door) as to the name and no one in the nearby Decatur stores seems to have ever heard of it. Here’s a hint: if you are facing the front door of the Brick Store Pub look to your right and you’ll see a set of stairs. Just beyond those stairs is where you want to be. As of the time of this post, the glass windows simply say “Smith’s” in big letters.
I was late, really late. The other 3 were generous enough to wait for me before giving up and giving in to the great smells wafting around the restaurant. As I sat down, I noted the owner was standing over our table talking to my dining companions having just delivered a complimentary order of the B.W.D.- bacon (benton’s variety) wrapped dates stuffed with Manchego cheese and almonds with some sort of dipping sauce, perhaps a roasted red pepper. It was the perfect start to our evening, really kickstarting our taste buds.
By this time, drinks were in order. Perusing the menu, I had sort of made up my mind that wine would pair well with this food, a Camemere perhaps. But there were no takers for wine, and one in our party was a bartender in a previous life, and when he saw the offerings on the drink menu insisted we all give them a try. So, it was 3 Horchatas (a drink made with rice milk) and 1 bacon infused cocktail.
I enjoyed my Horchata, which is similar tasting to a White Russian, but probably wouldn’t order it again. The bacon infused cocktail was tasty, not greasy as I imagined it would be. As I looked around the completely full restaurant (what recession?), I saw their board of rules near the bar, kinda cheesy with sayings like “gentlemen should only approach ladies if an interest was shown. Management suggests sending over a drink first” – yeah I just bet they do!
We sat forever starring at the menu, not sure what we should get as everything looked so good, especially all the tapas offerings. This was further complicated when the owner came over to tell us about the specials. The entree special of the evening, a ribeye, whose description was I think longer than this post, had us all sold. So, we compromised each of us picking 1 item from the tapas menu and quartering the steak special of the evening.
As an aside, I wanted to try one of the meats from their charcuteria – the Jamon Iberico, restaurant’s signature meat, but at $12 for 2 oz, I just couldn’t make myself commit, maybe next time. If you’ve tried it, please let me know how it was.
Huevos con Trufa – Rustic bread, slow roasted pork, poached egg, black truffles
Calamares (not a misspelling – this was taken off their website menu)
Spanish Meatballs (special appetizer of the evening)
The calamares, instead of being the small rings you get almost everywhere else, were very substantial, but unfortunately you can’t see much of it in the picture. Although the presentation was pretty this dish was the dud of the evening, completely lacking any flavor. And the Huevos were a slight letdown to me, more even than the calamares because the description builds it up to be so much more than your taste buds ever get treated to. “Rustic bread, slow roasted pork, poached egg, black truffles” sounds delish, doesn’t it? I never tasted the truffles and the rest of the dish was just bland.
Now the stars of the evening were the Octopus and the Meatballs. I was hesitant that I would be disappointed by both, the Octopus because it is in a fennel sauce (i hate fennel) and the meatballs, because, well, on a menu of items like chorizo in port wine reduction or mussels in a sherry-saffron broth, who orders meatballs?
The octopus was flavorful and most definitely not rubbery or tough as it has been when I’ve had it at other establishments. Definitely a standout on the menu. And the meatballs although only 2 in our plate were large enough for the 4 of us to share. And the mixture of the salty cheese within the meatball and the sweet tomato sauce had a perfect combination.
Lastly, after our tapas were done, our steak was brought out. Served medium it was huge, good thing the four of us were sharing. I thought the steak itself was tasty, but for all the “fluff” in the description I may just have been expecting more. I liked it, but it had already been outdone by the prior tapas.
I definitely find myself leaning to tapas over mains here. There wasn’t really anything on the main entree list that stood out. I’ve already decided the pork cheek tacos and eggplant fries on the tapas menu are what I’ll try next and a bargain at $10 for both. Tapas range in price from $5 to $9 and entrees hover around the $20 mark. Bill total was $120 prior to tip. Service was right on the mark, helpful and friendly but never pushy.
121 Sycamore St. Decatur, GA 30030