Named after Elizabeth ‘Ibby’ Danforth, late wife of Washington University's Chancellor Emeritus William Danforth, Ibby's is a far cry from the stereotypical campus cafeteria or student center bistro. Located on campus in the Danforth University Center, Ibby's is a restaurant that could easily be serving up its fare in any area of the city where fine cuisine is appreciated.
Overseen by Bon Appetit Management Company, the restaurant is involved in a host of sustainable activities, such as sourcing as many ingredients as possible from within a 150-mile radius, composting food scraps and even growing some of its own herbs.
We started with an array of the small plate selections. The Crispy Calamari Salad ($9), was a heaping pile of crispy fried calamari rings augmented with some greens, a bit of pickled sweet red onion and a subtle green chili aioli. The Ibby's Summer Salad ($9) likewise had a generous helping of shaved squash slices topped with a delectably understated pistachio-sage pesto and some creamy ricotta. Along with these superlative salads, we added an order of Deviled Eggs ($8). This dish was elevated far beyond the usual picnic version: four egg halves with their creamy whipped yolks topped with pieces of house-smoked trout, all served on a bed of greens with some shaved radishes. While these three dishes may be listed under Small Plates, the salad portions in particular were were definitely leaning toward entree size.
The Potato Gnocchi ($17) from the Large Plates proved to be more than big enough to share. This hearty bowlful of potato dumplings came out with plenty of piquant roasted tomatoes, bits of eggplant, broccoli and some whipped ricotta. Gnocchi has long been one of those dishes we use to gauge a kitchen's skill and the Ibby's version was as tender and savory as we've had in a long while.
The dessert menu has many of our favorites like churros and creme brulee; but after our feast, we went a little lighter and shared the S'Mores in a Jar ($7), a petite jar of chocolate mousse with some bruleed marshmallow cream and garnished with a couple of thin strips of graham cracker. Another picnic favorite re-imagined and delicious.
There are no spirits or cocktails to be had at Ibby's, but there is a decent selection of beer and wine available. The space itself is understated and elegant, with an atmosphere that hovers between casual and semi-formal. During our visit, there were diners in everything from flip-flops to three-piece suits; a "come as you are" aesthetic definitely prevailed.
While we found the food and the atmosphere at Ibby's most agreeable, getting there in the first place was a bit of a hassle. Though the general public is welcomed at Ibby's; if you're not familiar with the campus layout, it may take longer to find your way to the restaurant. There is no signage visible from Forsyth Boulevard; and once inside the Danforth Center, the signs are vague at best. Parking is available in the adjacent garage, but be aware the restaurant doesn't validate. Once you navigate your way to Ibby's, though, you're in for a quality dining experience.
--Ibby's, 6465 Forsyth Blvd., 935-3940, ibbys.wustl.edu.