It’s Not The Size Of Your Plate, It’s How You Use It
Portion control is a bummer. Food enjoyment should be untethered, not beholden to harsh rules concocted to achieve some abstract societal standard. But if you absolutely must limit your portions, restaurants that specialize in “small plates” offer a dietary regimen loophole.
The beauty behind the tapas concept is that it gives seasoned eaters a license to weave through a vast array of flavors and preparations in the context of a single restaurant, without needing help hoisting oneself from a seated position.
The multi-ethnic inspired Plancha Tapas and Wine Bar in Garden City, like most tapas restaurants, is perfect for the overzealous eater—someone who wants to taste every plate that passes by their table. These are the eaters whose forks are always darting into their table-mates’ personal space, looking for a morsel of that dish they opted not to order.
Sharing is caring at Plancha, particularly on the boards, which contain a cornucopia of mixed cheeses, meats, fruits, nuts, olives and bread. The crown jewel of the meat board is clearly the jamon ibérico, a highly prized cured meat that enrobes the mouth in silky pork unctuousness. Stately and supple, Jamon ibérico is truly the king’s pig and might actually be royalty itself—straight from a throne in Spain or Portugal, fattened on a steady diet of grass, herbs, acorns and roots.
The best bet at Plancha is most certainly those small plates, of which the restaurant offers no less than 17 options. The omnipresent jamon ibérico appears here as well, served carpaccio style with pickled red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, marconas and a drizzle of high-grade olive oil.
Beyond jamon, the can’t-miss tapas include the patatas bravas, oyster mushrooms, chicharrón, marrow bone and Korean chicken. The patatas bravas are deceptively simple fried fingerling potatoes—crisp outside, creamy inside with flecks of salt crystals upping the flavor ante, they are served with brava sauce—ketchup amped up with garlic and chili—and cumin aioli, which would be good on just about anything.
The oyster mushrooms bring meaty gravitas to the vegetarian party, with robust bite and earthiness served with charred leeks, barley, quinoa and a surprisingly spicy apple vinaigrette. The chicharrón is, of course, crispy pork skins—but this dish goes way beyond mere rinds with Vadouvan French masala, an Indian curry blend with aromatics like shallots and garlic. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also served with a black garlic aioli and mint gremolata, a fragrant chopped herb condiment.
It’s no secret to pro eaters that the thigh is far and away the best part of the chicken—Plancha knows that and delivers with the Korean chicken, a fried thigh served atop citrus salad with radish and gochujang aioli, a red chili paste that at once provides sweet, savory, spicy and fermented flavors. The chicken packs a juicy punch, but the crisp skin is the true star and any eater that isn’t left with a telltale glossy chin is doing it wrong.
Then there’s the marrow bone—pure, unadulterated meat butter. Plancha’s is served with fennel salsa and persimmon jam, which are fine additions, but in all honesty the bone marrow just needs itself. A sultry food item, marrow’s plush luxuriousness is best spread on crusty bread, which Plancha happily provides.
At Plancha, you do not control the portions—the portions control you.
Plancha Tapas and Wine Bar, 931 Franklin Ave., Garden City, NY 11530, 516-246-9459, www.barplancha.com