Tuesday, April 14, 2009

IM Tapas - Naples

We had a quick hit-and-run visit to the west coast of Florida a few weeks ago and ended up at IM Tapas after being told there was an hour-long wait at USS Nemo (unbelievable how busy some places were - the Naples real estate market sure shows the state of the economy, but you'd never know it from some of the restaurants). The menu was a nice mix of straight-ahead old-school tapas and some newer more contemporary twists, including, in addition to the regular menu, a printed list of about 10-12 daily specials (which, somewhat disconcertingly, had no prices listed). We had Frod Jr. and Little Miss F in tow and collectively got to try several items.

beet salad - the now-classic pairing of roasted beets and goat cheese, enlivened here with a sprinkle of pine nuts and little bits of crispy serrano ham. Nice presentation too, with slices of beet layered with goat cheese and stacked impressively in a tower.

fabada - a classic bean stew, and a nice rendition here, with big fat white beans and a rich broth, studded with chunks of chorizo and morcilla.

fried calamari - one of Little Miss F's favorites, the calamari were generously dusted with what I believe was pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika) and served with a spicy tomato dipping sauce.

skewered pork - very juicy cubes of pork, very assertively spiced with Moorish spices; I'm often underhwelmed by meat-on-a-stick, but these were quite good.

zucchini blossoms - stuffed with goat cheese blended with minced serrano ham, these were perfectly fried and the mild chevre didn't overwhelm the delicate blossoms. Really well done.

chorizo in cider - another traditional item, little rounds of chorizo sausage cooked in cider with sweet caramelized onions, served bubbling in a hot cazuela. Another hit with Frod Jr. and Little Miss F.

stuffed piquillos - yet another classic tapa with a clever presentation, 3 piquillo peppers were balanced with their tips upward, stuffed with a bacalao mousse, the plate lined with two sauces, one a red pepper sauce, the other a vibrant translucent yellow, and tasting almost like a very loose, oily aioli. A well-done take on the classic.

cheese plate - we opted for a 5-cheese plate which arrived at the end of our meal as a dessert course (which was fine by us), and it was a very nice, authentically Spanish spread: tetilla (the "tit cheese," as the chef happily explained, due to the shape) which was wonderfully soft and creamy; garrotxa (a nice moderately firm goat cheese); majorero (an unusual, somewhat nutty goat cheese from goats that, according to the chef, eat only marjoram); a ball of soft cabrales (a blue that I often don't particularly like, but I enjoyed this one); and one I can't recall. They were served with a couple slices of membrillo (quince paste) and a couple rounds of bright red prickly pear - an interesting accompaniment.

The wine list includes lots of choices from more "exotic" regions of Spain. We had a bottle of a wine called "Oriol" from Vinyes del Aspres in the Ampurdan region of Spain which was a nice quaffer but seemed overpriced at around $50 (though I have no idea what this might retail for).

Indeed, if I had any complaint, it was with the pricing. With most of the tapas-type items being priced in the $15+ range, this can quickly become a pretty expensive meal. Our 5-course cheese plate was $32 (!!!). The wine list likewise, while featuring many of the "out-of-favor" regions that usually yield great bargains, had very few bargain-priced wines.

But the food was generally excellent, the menu has much of interest, and the chef is passionate and talented. Definitely something to look forward to for my next jaunt to Florida's other coast.

IM Tapas
965 4th Avenue North
Naples, FL 34102
I M Tapas on Urbanspoon

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