Ibby’s Bistro

| Scene Reporter

It’s time to make that call home. You know—the one where you tell your parents that you got scurvy because you can’t afford to buy fruits at school. If your parents are like mine, they’ll know what you’re getting at, tell you that they know you’re not on a pirate ship and then suggest that you stop buying so many lattes.

It’s time to make the call because you’re probably going to need some more meal points soon. Ibby’s, the new bistro located in the Danforth University Center, is in business, and it’s official: Wash. U. is spoiling us rotten. Now students have the opportunity to dine first-class on campus and pay with meal points. What could be better?

Conveniently situated on the first floor of the DUC, Ibby’s, named for the late Elizabeth “Ibby” Gray Danforth, allows students to momentarily escape the long lines of Bear’s Den and the monotony of eating the same old stuff by transporting us into a world of fine food, efficient service and intimate dining.

Ibby’s has a classy, romantic feel. Frank Sinatra croons in the background “It Had to Be You” as waiters and waitresses dressed in black rush to refill glasses of water and serve gourmet meals. The black painted walls contrast with small red lights hanging overhead. Each table is covered with a white cloth and adorned with its own candle. The lighting was perfect, providing a sense of ambiance without hindering one’s ability to see friends and read the menu.

Ibby’s one-page menu offers variety without overwhelming its patrons. The bistro offers standards, including Missouri corn chowder soup, as well as classic caesar and baby spinach salads. Entrée salads are also offered, as are sandwiches and wraps, including a grilled chicken sandwich.

The bistro also dabbles into more adventurous cuisine. The bistro serves small plates, which include such enticing options as locally-grown exotic mushrooms, smoked gulf shrimp, crab cakes and mussels. For the hungry student ready to splurge, larger pastas and entrées are available, ranging from gnocchi to pork shanks to rainbow trout.

Once our orders were taken, we were presented with an impressive selection of breads and dips. We were served three different types of bread: a rustic, crusty wheat bread, small flavorful biscuits and crunchy triangular cheddar pita chips. The breads could be paired with either olive oil, roasted red pepper butter or a delicious dip made of lentils, which tasted like hummus with a hint of curry.

We began our meal with a small plate of duck springs rolls. The crispy rolls were presented promptly on a long white plate. Filled with shredded duck, these unique and savory rolls were paired with a brightly colored crisp jicama slaw and a sweet orange-chili glaze. The only complaint would be that the portion was minimal. When they say that it’s a small plate, they mean it. There were only four rolls, and while they were a normal size width-wise, they were about the length of a tube of chapstick.

Our entrées arrived soon after we had finished the spring rolls. We tried the strip steak, which was served with a tasty blue cheese potato gratin. Cooked to perfection, the steak was big and worth the price, which was the highest on the menu. We also tried the Mediterranean Vegetable Orchiette. Orecchiette are a distinctive type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears—hence the name Orechiette, meaning “little ears” in Italian. This was paired with a variety of vegetables, including fennel, rapini— similar to broccoli—sweet oven dried roma tomatoes, toasted garlic and artichokes. The portion of the pasta was generous. To my dismay, however, the lemon herb olive oil sauce was not my favorite. I found it to be too watery and tangy. While I ate the dish and considered it to be decent, I would not order it again.

Once the waiter informed us that we could indeed pay with our meal points, we decided to go ahead and try the desserts, which were excellent. We tried the chocolate silk pie. Though the piece was small, its richness and truly silky texture made up for its petite stature. We also tried the Apple Brown Bettie. Served in a dish with thinly sliced apples, this warm dessert spiced with cinnamon and topped with a large spoonful of vanilla ice cream reminded me of my mom’s homemade apple crisp. Let me tell you—that is a high compliment.

So all-in-all, if you want top-notch food on campus, Ibby’s is without a doubt the place to go. It’s not perfect, but minus a few faux pas, it’s getting there. Ibby’s would be a great place to go for a fun, fancy night out with friends or parents. But I have to say that it seems best suited for a date. The romantic atmosphere combined with the fine food and convenience seems like the perfect way to go out with that special someone if you can’t make your way off campus. I know that I’ll be heading back to Ibby’s, I just need to come up with an excuse for my parents. Is there such a thing as an exotic mushroom deficiency?

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