The Basque and Catalan communities are famously independent. Each has retained its longstanding autonomy in northern Spain, and each has its own language that differs considerably from Spanish. And under ancient Roman occupation, the story goes, each became expert at using the “fifth quarter”—that is, what was left behind of an animal after the nobles, clergy, and bourgeoisie had taken their share. Today’s Reserve selection invites you to savor Plan B’s take on that tradition of resourcefulness and invention with a Basque- and Catalan-inspired tapas menu. Choose between the following options:
$50 for a five-course tapas menu tasting for one
- Vegetarian options available
- Complimentary amuse
- Basque oysters or hearts of palm
- Grilled shrimp or goat cheese croquettes
- Uni butter with bacon flatbread or seasonal mushrooms
- Slow-braised short rib or green paella
- Glass of cava
- Glass of wine
$95 for a five-course tapas tasting for one with drink pairings for each course<p>
- All tapas courses in the tasting above
- Glass of cava
- Ginebra e Meloi cocktail (Ford’s Gin, Gitana Manzanilla sherry, Licor 43, cantaloupe, and lemon)
- Glass of white wine: 2012 Ulacia Hondarribi Zuri/Hondarribi/Beltza Txakolina
- Glass of red wine: 2010 Pazos del Rey Sila Mencia Monterrei
- Green Spaniard cocktail (Bols Genever, Gran Duque crema de alba, pistachio syrup, yellow chartreuse) <p>
Both Catalonia and the Basque Country lie partly along the coast, and accordingly the tapas menu centers on the sea. Basque oysters nod to a more familiar idea of tapas by adding flecks of chorizo to a peppery mignonette sauce and the grilled shrimp is bathed with chili pepper in quince sauce. But the wildest of the marine courses on the menu may be the uni-butter-and-bacon coca. Creamy, briny sea-urchin roe is blended into butter, slathered atop the Basque flatbread known as coca, and topped with chunks of bacon and flying-fish roe.
The courses come back down to earth toward the end of the meal. Short ribs slowly braise in Moorish herbs and spices, providing one final savory bite before that most classic of Spanish desserts: silken flan.
As the food and drinks blend traditional flavors with a deeply funky twist, so too does the head-turning dining room. The space is half Barcelona streetscape and half cabinet of curiosities. Creatures including a taxidermied rooster and an octopus preserved in a jar lurk amid a crazy quilt of textures: horsehair banquettes, patched-up exposed brick, chicken wire, olive branches, and a knobbly stone-and-resin bar. Overseeing it all is a giant mural of an old-fashioned señora, smiling serenely as she protects the room from the monster on the other side of the wall.
Combing provincial and urban elements, Nolita eatery Plan B embraces the eclectic spirit of both Barcelona and the Basque region. Executive Chef Jhonathan Rupchand leads the team as they design an inventive menu of shareable tapas that New York Magazine praised as, "more exciting than most." The chefs draw inspiration from the regions' centuries-old peasant cooking; however, they use modern sensibilities and techniques to refine and elevate these rustic flavors.
Garden-fresh produce from local markets appears alongside imported Spanish cheeses and cured meats. As diners savor the bold combinations of saffron and striped bass or roasted cornish hen with absinthe-spiked cream, they can also indulge in a drink menu that was designed in tandem with the cuisine. Northern Spanish beers and wines appear prominently in the selection, as do cocktails mixed using everything from gin and prickly pear to jalapeño-infused tequila and pomegranate.
Much like the menu, Plan B's decor manages to embrace a rustic vibe and an urban aesthetic at the same time. Wall panels made from olive branches, a leather banquette lined with horsehide, and chicken-wire cabinets filled with wine bottles all establish the restaurant's provincial roots. However, a custom-designed mural of graffiti art and stencil work manages to evoke the gritty, urban essence of a Barcelona streetscape.