Chef Charles Clark and the Clark Cooper Concepts team are cooking lunches daily for their laid-off employees.(Photo by Shannon Smith)
First Course: Tortilla Espanola with Black French Truffle Soubise (Photo by Shannon Smith)
Second course: Cucumber, Plum and Cabrales Salad (Photo by Shannon Smith)
Third Course: Shallot Charred Sable Fish with Leek Jamon and Gold Potato Puree (Photo by Shannon Smith)
Fourth Course: Porcini and Wild Fennel Rubbed Buffalo Tenderloin (Photo by Shannon Smith)
Dessert: Gateau Basque with Brandy Braised Cherries and Vanilla Creme Custard (Photo by Shannon Smith)
For a chef hosting his last wine dinner in a Houston restaurant that he is closing in February, Ibiza’s Charles Clark appeared exceptionally light-hearted on this Thursday night. With his Ibiza regulars on the invitation list, the dinner had sold out in less than 20 minutes and Clark was cooking up his favorite everything having to do with Mediterranean flavors.
“I am doing the best of Spain. What I like to cook is French and Spanish,” he told PaperCity. “So I’m doing everything from the Basque to the Pyrenees mountains. And I’m doing all Spanish wines. This is kind of the best of the best.”
From truffles through buffalo tenderloin to brandy-braised cherries, this was an epic dining experience at the hands of one of the city’s most beloved chefs.
“I just wanted to do one blowout, one last dinner,” Clark says. “And I had to do it before the holidays started. So I figured October would be a good month because the weather would be a little cooler. And actually have the Astros playing in the background.”
And, yes, the Houston Astros were on the field on a large screen TV in the back of the Ibiza private room. As guests cheered each course of the divine dinner, they also erupted in cheers when the Astros showed their metal.
There was no name-dropping, no blatant VIPs surfing through Clark’s bountiful menu. These were Ibiza regulars, those who are going to sorely miss Clark’s Mediterranean take on fresh fish and veal chops and even his trailer park gumbo, a personal favorite of this writer. (The best of any in town with that generous dollop of superb potato salad topping the dark seafood stew.)
“I pretty much know everybody here, all familiar faces. It makes me feel so good,” Clark said. “I’ve been here 19 years and I do two wine dinners a year, sometimes three. So this is the last one and I’m going to do whatever I like to cook.
“I don’t care if it’s heavy, rich, French. Whatever wines. I’m just gonna do whatever I like, what I like to cook in my heart.”
Clark dubbed the evening as “Ibiza’s Throwback Wine Dinner.”
First course: Tortilla Espanola with Black French Truffle Soubise, Ordonez Nisia Verdejo 2016
Second course: Cucumber, Plum, and Cabrales Salad, Pecina Rioja Reserva 2011
Third course: Shallot Charred Sable Fish with Leek Jamon and Gold Potato, Muga Prado Enea 2011
Fourth course: Porcini & Wild Fennel Rubbed Buffalo Tenderloin, Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus 2016
Dessert: Gateau Basque with Brandy-Braised Cherries and Vanilla Crème Custard, Singular Pedro Ximenez 60-year-aged
This dinner was far from the end of Clark’s career. In partnership with Grant Cooper, you will see him at the still crazy-popular Brasserie 19, Coppa, Punk’s Simple Southern Food, and The Dunlavy, which opens as a full service restaurant around August of 2020.
“I’ll be bouncing around the front of the house more. Not the back of the house,” he said. “It’s more customer relations. You, now being in the restaurants.
“It’s not even work for me, man. I like being there.”