Northern Spain has invaded Nolita in N.Y. with Plan B

Northern Spain has invaded Nolita. Plan B, a new Spanish restaurant in Downtown New York from Masala Times’ owner Hemant Phul, specializes in the cuisine of Basque and Catalan country, tweaking tapas while serving drinks distinctly inspired by Barcelona. A reflection of cosmopolitan Iberia, we were relieved not to see a single bullfighter or bota bag in sight. A faded wall mural, stone bar, cow hide seats, and split beam tables hardly look out of place beside all the surrounding boutiques. The menu similarly skips the traditions of the carnivorous Catalans and blood-thirsty Basques for dishes that a very varied group can enjoy. In fact, Plan B pulls off the rare trick of pleasing vegetarian contingents with alluring dishes like almond gazpacho, goat cheese croquetas, and spring pea and mushroom paella, while traditionalists offer “oles” to authentic preparations like a squid ink paella with fresh scallops and shrimp, Serrano ham with melon, and spicy shrimp heads. Rarely are things so straight-forward here, where lamb chops arrive with a rabbit demi-glace, a cast-iron pot of tres leches gnocchi is topped with firm filets of eel, and morcilla is tinged with Mexican mole. There are also dishes both parties can enjoy; one out of morbid fascination, the other out of intrepid appetite. An exotic end of the menu really gets the table talking, pitting python sausage (it tastes a little like lean beef), bull balls, rabbit meatballs, and duck heart terrine on “The Wild Side” of this bill of fare. Cocktails cleverly include rare Spanish ingredients with superior spirits, as in a drink featuring Basque Txakoli wine with jalapeno-infused tequila. We stuck closer to the Spanish beer and wine list, which includes a 1978 Tempranillo among the many and several floral-forward whites. Despite a misplaced, regrettable name (surely why condoms are available where matches and mints usually are), Plan B scores with an interesting interpretation of Spanish cooking, with plenty of dishes and the execution to lure us back. After all, we were too full to try the cuttlefish mofongo or sea urchin and bacon coca flatbreads with fish roe. Plan B, 244 Mulberry Street, New York, New York; (212) 775-0111.

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