Friday, February 13, 2009

Ibiza iza toss up...

Ibiza, Norfolk Restaurant Logo
Note to self: Listen to your inner voice, trust your instincts, follow your gut, etc. etc.

When I walked into Ibiza last Friday and saw that the place was completely empty, I should have followed my instincts which were screaming, "GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!" But alas, I did not. My buddy Alex works across town at her new job now, so scheduling lunch is a little more involved. She suggested that we try out Ibiza, as she had heard good things. I had also heard some positive comments and was interested. I arrived first and entered an empty restaurant. Here's the thing about empty restaurants. Having a past life in which I was a waitress, I know for a fact that the slower business is, the worse the food and service will be. Unless a place is running on all cylinders, the kitchen cranking out orders, servers running around full sections of tables, it just gets slow and sloppy. You'd think the opposite, right? You'd think that your order is going to be perfection, as you are the center of their universe. Well, the truth is exactly the opposite. People get bored, and start doing other stuff because they have downtime. Then they are magically transported to a mental LALA land and temporarily forget what they are really supposed to be doing. Plus, it’s just weird being the only table. How many times can you fill a water glass?

Following that train of thought, it took way to long for us to get our food, which in my opinion, was very mediocre. I got a garbanzo bean and spinach soup which was so salty that my lips puckered. If it contained imported Spanish ingredients and spices I couldn’t tell, unless it was using Spanish salt. Further, my tapas was disappointing. It was chicken rolled in ‘jamon” (that’s ham for you gringos), lightly breaded, fried and topped with a sauce and raspberry truffles. It sounded lovely. It was pretty flavorless. Even my diet coke tasted funky. Alex, not a fan of the Coca-Cola’s ‘zero’ products and/or Splenda, thinks that was the cause. I think the spices that should have been in my food, somehow made it into my beverage.

So, my overall impression of Ibiza was “Needs Work”. As it is a bit pricey for dinner, I’m not sure I’d be in a rush to head back. They have a nice little outdoor dining section which may lure me when the weather improves and my memory does not. My guess is that their focus may be a bit more on the nighttime club aspect of their business than it is on the restaurant part. The best part of this meal by far was hanging out with my buddy again and reviving Laine and Alex lunches.

Oh, and one more pet peeve. The only website Ibiza currently has is on myspace. If you are a business and you set up a myspace page , don't be an idiot and set your profile to private. What's the point?


My first attempted trip to Ibiza was during lunch on the first Saturday in February. My mom and I were greeted at the door and told that the 'major' cleaning is done the first Saturday of each month and therefore, they do not serve lunch. Ok, I can handle that and we headed over to the Winehouse on Colley Avenue (more about that wonderful meal in another entry). Fast forward a week or so. Laine and I decided to try for lunch again at Ibiza, this time on a Friday. Laine arrived first and is the ONLY person in the restaurant. I arrived and that makes two. They were serving lunch; we were just the only two people in the city of Norfolk that decided to dine there that day.
I ordered the Gazpacho and the Tortilla Espanola, which was described as a potato and onion omelet. Eggs, I love them and they are not that hard to screw up...usually. The Gazpacho's taste was up to par, but it did not have the traditional consistency of cold Spanish soup I have had in the past. This was more of a puree, where other varieties I have had consisted of diced vegetables in a light broth. The Tortilla Espanola arrived and it looked nothing like an omelet. The display was closer to a crustless quiche. It had potatoes sliced and layered with the egg and onion mixture on the top. It was okay. I think I was expecting something closer to an omelet, more eggs and less potato. If my expectations had been closer to what came out, I might have been more excited. On the service note, the food took nothing quicker than forever. We were the only two in the restaurant and ordered two bowls of soup and two tapas items. This was not a lot of food and I would gander that the soup was already prepared. The upside was that the bill was much cheaper than we expected. Not displayed, the lunch prices on most of the tapas items and soups were half of the dinner prices. Soda and tea was reasonable. No $3 diet soda-lucky for them. Besides tapas, there are also full entrees that started at $16.
I would like to try Ibiza again to see if the service is any better and to try a few more things on the menu. The selection different from the average Norfolk eatery and experimental eating is always exciting. My advice to the standard menu diner is to try Ibiza at lunch. If you are a more adventurous eater, opt for dinner.

I have also been to Ibiza during post-dinner hours. A DJ spins dance music and it was pretty busy those nights. If you like dance music, check it out.