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Ithaki, Ipswich, MA

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | October 10th, 2011 | Restaurant Reviews
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I was invited to dinner at Ithaki last week.  Bringing my husband for company, we made the hour drive in hopes of finding a tasty meal ahead.  Much to our delight, we enjoyed a delicious three-course meal that was filled with great food, excellent service, and pleasant atmosphere.

Dining at Ithaki on a Thursday night, we were 15 minutes early for our reservations but were able to be seated early.  We were offered seats in the bar area near the evening’s musical performer.  Asked if this location would be acceptable, we agreed.  The acoustic guitar made for great background music among the quiet conversations of other tables.  Once seated, we were given water, menus, and the evening’s specials lists.

Both my husband and I were hungry and wanted to sample as many items as possible to provide a thorough review.  I had decided to start the meal with two appetizers for us to split, but my husband added a third to round out our first course.

My first appetizer choice was the Pan Fried Jumbo Lump Crab & Lobster Cakes.  These cakes had a nice mix of crab, lobster, and breading.  The shellfish was prevalent with the bread just used to bind the ingredients.  Served with a grilled corn relish and cayenne sherry aioli, it had a nice mix of textures: tender, crunchy, and silky.

My second appetizer choice was the Rabbit Pâté.  Interestingly, rabbit has become a meat that I find more enjoyable every time I try it.  The pâté had a wonderful amount of flavor and was delicious served atop brioche toast points.  There was a tomato marinade served on the side, which I preferred to eat separately.  Although the marinade was delicious, I wanted to enjoy every flavor of the pâté on its own.  There also was a quail egg, which I let my husband enjoy in its entirety rather than trying to split it.

The third appetizer, chosen by my husband, was the Salad Special that consisted of a bed of mixed greens topped with Turkish figs, candied walnuts, gorgonzola, crispy prosciutto, and vanilla vinaigrette.  I enjoyed all of the ingredients in this salad, except one.  For me the vinaigrette was too sweet, even in contrast to the salty prosciutto and tangy gorgonzola.  My husband thought the vinaigrette was a delightful topping for the salad, but he does prefer sweeter foods than I.

With three appetizers enjoyed, it was time for our entrées, both of which we chose from the regular dinner menu.  My dinner was Malfalda Pasta.  This pasta dish had a wonderful selection of ingredients: shrimp, Loukaniko sausage, and spinach mixed with a roasted garlic and light feta cream sauce.  I have to confess it was a heavy dish for my appetite, but it was extremely tasty.  To enjoy more of the dish, I opted to eat the shrimp, spinach, and sausage and leave the pasta.

My husband’s dish, Lamb Shank, was an impressive serving.  Brought to the table in a large bowl, the shank was of a Flintstone-esque size.  The lamb was incredibly tender; no need for a knife to cut a bite, it simply fell off the bone.  The lamb was braised in tomato sauce, which provided great flavor to the bed of orzo.  For added flavor the orzo was topped with mizithra cheese.  After sneaking a few bites, I returned this dish to my husband, who kept his status in the clean plate club.

Although we were full, we felt that dessert should be had.  I considered having an item from the special menu, but my waitress gently suggested trying the Galactobouriko.  As she pointed out, we were dining at a restaurant known for its Mediterranean cuisine, wouldn’t I want to try a dessert from that region?  Although I was skeptical of the dessert after reading its description, I was delighted with my choice.  Made of semolina custard packaged inside phyllo dough and served with a sour cherry sauce, this dessert had a fabulous contrast of sweet and tart.

My husband opted for a dessert that had a unique spin on a classic Greek recipe, Pistachio Baklava.  This baklava was wonderful.  The pistachios added a unique flavor to the tasty combination of honey, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Served with pistachio ice cream, it was a pleasant way to end the meal.

Ithaki may be an hour drive for us, but it was well worth the time spent traveling to enjoy this meal.  Well-prepared food and attentive staff created a wonderful evening of dining for my husband and me.

Editor’s note:  Our evening of dining was provided at no cost to my husband and myself.  That being said, this review accurately reflects the quality of our experience at Ithaki.

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