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If you need any further proof that todayís twentysomethings truly think of their income as disposable, just pop into Ixta some night. On our most recent visit to this year-old Mexican eatery, we were seated next to six young women, just hanging out, who seemingly didnít think twice of dropping $50 (at least) on a Wednesday evening repast.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton.
Now, Iíll be the first to admit there are worse places to spend your hard-earned money, even if Ixta was a tad too loud for these 40something ears, and the service a bit distracted. (And I wonít even get into the reservation rigamarole.) The joint is decidedly stylish, and the food is often very good, and sometimes even moreso.
As you might expect, the house takes a lot of pride in its drink menu, coming up with numerous tempting-sounding concoctions. But the winners at our table turned out to be the traditional Ixtarita, made with Herradura Silver, Cointreau and fresh lime juice, and the refreshing (and non-alcoholic) Sunrise Spritzer, made with fresh orange juice and POM (pomegranate juice).
I was tempted to make a meal solely out of appetizers, and I think Iíll heed my instincts on the next visit. Blooming diver scallops, perfectly cooked, get an extra kick from a ďsalsa borrachaĒ Ė a so-called drunken salsa made by combining tomato and tomatillo with beer and tequila. A truly sublime salad of frisee, jicama, banana and pecans, dressed in a chile lime crema, goes over the moon with the addition of the best fried calamari Iíve ever had. Another excellent salad, enlivened by the crunch of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seed), is topped by a pair of tasty fried squash blossoms. And if the warm cheese tamale didnít quite live up to the rest of these starters, it was perfectly fine nonetheless.
All this isnít to knock the entrees Ė especially the glorious coriander charred baby lamb, four small chops, remarkably tender, perched atop a variation on guacamole. Twice-cooked pork, a seemingly Asian dish, was truly mouthfilling, given extra ťlan by the addition of gingered boniato (a tropical sweet potato). And the kitchen handled tortilla-crusted tuna beautifully, which sadly canít be said of the gooey plantain mash that made its bed.
Desserts turned out to be more of a fifty-fifty proposition. A warm chile-tinged brownie topped with chocolate jalapeno ice cream looked tempting when served as a substitute birthday cake at a nearby table, but looks turned out to be deceiving. The brownie had an odd texture, and the ice cream was unremarkable. But cinnamon and sugar churros, often a disappointment, were fairly addictive; the accompanying sour apple compote was quite fine (so was the vanilla ice cream) but ultimately unnecessary.
Okay, I donít think the young ladies next to us had dessert. Maybe they were saving a little of their income Ė for a great pair of shoes. Or at least another Ixtarita.
Neighborhood: Flatiron District
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