Two years ago, I visited the Iberian Pig for my first and last time, until today. Don’t get me wrong – I had a wonderful experience. However, the relatively high prices and lack of transportation, for I had yet to drive my car down from Wisconsin, prevented my return until this year: oh, the perks of having two jobs and a car.
On my previous visit, I had sat in the deep recesses of the rather dark restaurant. Needless to say, my pictures featured either dark blobs in shadows or garishly bright dishes from my camera’s flash. This time, having made a reservation, my friend and I were seated promptly by a window near the front. The Christmas lights strung around Decatur Square outside made picture taking so much easier.
We wanted a light dinner and simply decided to share a couple of tapas and a dessert. The Iberian Pig’s rather extensive tapas menu required some patience and guidance to peruse. Our server had extensive knowledge of the menu and gave us great suggestions. She answered questions ranging from flavors and ingredients to portion size. In the end, we decided to share an order of Albondigas and Morcilla & Mushroom Toast. When we placed our order, our server told us of one of their specials of the night: Lamb Albondigas. Since we could always return to try the wild boar albondigas, we decided to give the lamb ones a try.
At almost 7:00pm, a pleasant hum of conversation filled the restaurant without being overwhelmingly loud. Illuminated by strings of Christmas lights outside and soft golden lights inside, the Iberian Pig had a soft, romantic ambiance. Rich aromas of cheeses and wines drifted over from nearby tables and my stomach rumbled in response. Thankfully, the Morcilla & Mushroom Toast arrived about 15 minutes after we ordered.
A stunning dish, the Morcilla & Mushroom Toast supported an impressive amount of various mushrooms. Thankfully, the rather large toast had already been cut in half for us. A couple mushrooms tumbled off, but I managed to maneuver my slice to my plate with most of its toppings still in place. Upon first glance, I had completely forgotten the presence of the Morcilla sausage within the hill of mushrooms. My first bite promptly brought the sausage back into mind, for the bits of crunchy, salty sausage complimented the sweet gastrique wonderfully. Despite their abundance, the mushrooms were sadly lost in terms of flavor. They had a wonderful texture, but none of their usual earthy flavor, something I sorely missed in the dish. After a minute, the toast also became rather soggy. The dish would be better served as little crostinis, for it would be much easier to eat. The large slice of toast not only proved difficult to cut, but also difficult to take a bite out of. Somehow, despite all this, it was still a pretty tasty dish. With a couple of adjustments, it could be amazing.
The Lamb Albondigas arrived a minute after the toast. Small balls of goat cheese added a wonderful richness to the dish. The basque sauce, made of yellow and red peppers, onions, and tomatoes, tasted a little too sweet. If the dish had some red pepper flakes or some sort of spiciness, it would have paired perfectly with the sweet sauce. However, the juiciness and tenderness of the lamb meatballs won me over. I hope the regular wild boar albondigas taste just as good, because I plan on coming back to try them.
We finished up our meal with an order of churros, which came out delightfully hot and fresh. Cinnamon and sugar clung to every ridge and crack of the fried dough. As we ate, I found myself in quite a dilemma – I couldn’t decide whether I preferred the churros solo or dunked in hot, rich chocolate. Infused with cinnamon-chili, the sauce changed the sugary hot churros from a playful, carnival treat to a rich, intense dessert. I only wished the churros were slightly thicker, because after a bite or two, the churros began to come apart. I also wanted them to be thicker so that there would be a bit of softness within the nice, crunchy exterior. All in all, the churros were wonderful finish to a tasty meal.
After this lovely experience, with my car, two jobs, and close proximity to The Iberian Pig, I have run out of reasons to not return to this gem in Decatur. Next time, Wild Boar Albondigas will definitely be on my order.
The Iberian Pig
121 Sycamore Street
Decatur, GA 30030