Restaurant review: Ibérica, EC1
- Credit: Archant
It’s not your average looking tapas bar, with high ceilings, grand paintings and large windows which are more swanky bistro than traditional dark, candle-lit tavern.
But then, Ibérica in Farringdon doesn’t serve up your average Spanish cuisine either – the man behind it, executive head chef Nacho Manzano, has three Michelin stars under his belt and brings modern flair and an upmarket makeover to the traditional tastes of España.
The restaurant is the fourth to open under the same name, following success in both Canary Wharf and Marylebone, but the eatery steers free of any chain feel and the service is impeccable, with our waiter knowing the menu and expansive wine list inside out despite the place only being open for two weeks.
He recommended a full bodied, slightly spicy but soft red to kick things off – the Mala Vida Cabernet – and it was a fine recommendation, complimenting every dish which followed.
We started with some juicy olives and a selection of fine Ibérico air-cured ham from a pure breed pig fed largely on acorns, bringing with it a variety of intense, smokey flavours in its wafer-thin bites. The pork burger sliders – made from the same meat – were also really tasty.
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The unusual gazpacho of beetroot, raspberry and anchovy set off an explosion of sweet dimensions, while the serrano ham croquettes were the best I’ve had, which is unsurprising given that our waiter told us that the potato and béchamel filling is stirred constantly for one hour to give it a sublimely smooth texture.
For me, star of the evening was the soft cooked sea trout served with almond purée, pickled cauliflower and smoked olive oil – the fish pink on the inside and bursting with fresh flavour. Close second was the black rice with squid ink, cuttlefish and prawns served with alioli – an odd looking dish but absolutely delicious.
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Meanwhile my partner couldn’t stop raving about the twice cooked lamb – a dish formed by meat from the most tender joints and marinated in brandy, ensuring it was as tender as it could possibly be without falling apart, with the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and red peppers it was served with showcasing its beautiful flavour impeccably.
Dessert didn’t disappoint either – the traditional Spanish rice pudding divine and perfectly rounded off with a glass of dessert wine selected for us by our waiter.
Ibérica really does stand out and offer something different in the sea of Spanish eateries dotted around this city – and there’s clearly an appetite for upmarket España, given it was full having only been open such a short space of time.