IXTA, Oct. 22, 2005

48 E. 29th St. (bet. Park and Madison)

Two weeks ago I received a postcard from IXTA which doubled as a $10 off coupon. We probably would've tried the restaurant regardless, considering it's in our neighborhood, but the coupon certainly got us more motivated to try it out...that as well as their recently joining OpenTable, of which I was able to receive 100 points.

IXTA is an interesting place as it caters to the local residents more than anything else. Murray Hill is quite the haven for 20-30-something professional singles (women especially and recent grads as well) as any visit to the Bagelry on a Saturday/Sunday morning or a walk past Rodeo Bar, Dos Caminos, Mercury Bar, Dip, PS 450 or Banc Cafe any evening during the week will demonstrate.

IXTA offers margaritas and other fruity concoctions, presumably for the ladies, a smattering of different tequilas for the guys who chase them as well as a fairly simplistic menu of relatively tasty Mexican cuisine.

Despite technically being a restaurant, IXTA is a design and social structure first, a place to drink second and a place to eat third. This isn't an opinion but rather an assumed fact from what you can read on the website. The restaurant came about after Mike Himani, the restaurateur, asked an interior to design a space that would serve drinks and food. IXTA was the result, and it certainly was catered to the location (runoff from a packed Dos Caminos can find similar fare and drinks 2 blocks away at IXTA) and demographics (we've already discussed this).

So we went with little expectations on a dreary and wet Saturday evening.

I ordered a particular beer that I had never heard of (and can't remember...started with an H) only to learn that they were out of it. So I ordered a Pacifico at $6 a pop, a bargain compared to the Coronas for $7. Wow. Danna had a Diet Coke.

The tall and narrow, crisp chips they served came with two dipping sauces. A too-thin green sauce that was mild in both spice and flavor and a red sauce that had nearly perfect viscosity, heat and flavor. We went through a batch of the chips and were promptly given another boxfull.

I asked our waiter if the chalupas came two to an order so that we could share. He said yes and didn't explain any further. We ordered the chalupas and to our surprise, three were plated. So the waiter didn't know what he was talking about. No problem as it worked in our favor.

The beef had an adequate amount of kick to it, was accompanied with aged goat cheese, shredded lettuce and your typical accompaniments and was seated on a too-crispy-to-cut-through disk made of corn. It was slightly unmanageable to pick up and eat, but that's what needed to be done. I added some of the red sauce to this and found the dish passable to quite good. Danna was nonplussed with it.

For our entrees, Danna ordered the pork chops with ginger glaze and mashed potatoes/carrots. I ordered the queso stuff chicken with warm forest mushrooms and mulato emulsion. The chicken was pretty good - though not overly juicy. The queso was nicely melted and seemed to have unknown or discernable herbs in it as well. The warm forest mushrooms were plain brown buttons and the mulato emulsion was good and as it turned out, good for the pork as well.

Danna's pork chops were, in a word, humongous. They were also a little dry, lacking much distinguished flavor and came without a sauce of any kind, though the mashed potatoes (which were fluffy and tasty) sat in an apple-ish tasting sauce that was very nice. The carrots were sorry "baby" carrots out of a bag.

Overall our dinner, total cost with two beers, no dessert and a $10 gift certificate came to $52. I am happy I had the gift certificate and won't return for a second chance. It's not that the food wasn't passable, in fact it was good (certainly not great), and was a good change of pace...but this place is not a food destination. It's a place to meet people or meet up with people, have a drink and maybe get a bite to eat if you stay long enough. It was designed this way and works this way and fortunately doesn't strive to be much more. This will fall into the same subjective camp as Suba, Banc Cafe and others that cater to a demographic instead of focusing on the food first.

Final comments...the music was awful. Danna, who has much greater patience for "today's" music than myself, were both left shaking our heads as to the tripe playing over the speaker system.

The bright entrance seems a bit much but in the end I kind of like it, and the business cards are kind of cool too.


Blogger Mona said...

Isn't it funny how we fear eating in our own neighborhoods? I live on the UWS and I'm trying to put an end to my avoidance of restaurants around my apt. I guess somehow I always end up in the same place : east village or west village and why not try and find some places around me that are either underestimated or not as well known.

1:29 PM  
Blogger BADGE said...

Hey Mona,

yeah its so true. We've finally started to come out of our "local area" shell.

With such a predominantly asian/india influence in our nabe, we often a) avoid that cuisine and b) find a place we love (Penelope) and stick with it.

Hope your weekend was good!

1:54 PM  

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