Pigging Out Spanish Styley – Iberica’s New Sunny Menu Reviewed

Emma Chadwick | 7th June 2017

Perhaps not the brightest idea to review tapas after a week in Barca where I ate tapas and o yes, tapas, but I’d never tried Iberica, the lush-looking eatery in Spinningfields.

There’s a new seasonal menu on offer, making hay while the sun shines of the best Spanish produce, much exclusive to the restaurant which is a good-looking, well put together venue.

It’s got a big terrace where you can smoke if that’s your bag, a more relaxed but not too studenty chilled out bar/snacky area downstairs (good friend space) to a more formal, grown up dining upper floor (good date space).

Watch out if you have one sherry too many though as the bathroom is mirrored like Versailles, a bit tricky on the way in and out. I always find it weird when there’s a mirror on a bathroom door – not sure why anyone would want to watch themselves on the loo, but each to their own.

We were having a tasting menu with matched wines (again many only available there). Prices for this quality of food, service and surroundings, is extremely reasonable with dishes from £3 for starters and £5 for tapas, and wines from £22 a bottle.

It’s tapas and I’m sure everyone is now familiar with the whole food-sharing lark. We kicked off with a beautiful plate of wafer thin different hams and cheeses which gave a taste of the effort and attention to detail, even love, that Iberica gives to its dishes.

They knew everything about the pigs that had been turned into ham (well not sure if they were quite on first name terms). The porkers did have lovely lives, being fed different diets of cereals/acorns etc and then after piggy heaven, being cured for months, even years, to make different flavours. It was a wonderful legacy from the pigsters, delicious hams that played on the tongue and slithered down the gullet in salty perfection. Thank you.

The cheese, although as good, was thankfully a little less dramatic. I adored the Manchego, which has to be one of the best things to come out of Spain, while a smoked offering parried well with the quince jelly and a ripe creamy brie-like number (Ok can’t read my shorthand) was a hit for me.

That was the opening salvo followed by two veggie dishes (I hear your relief) of baby carrot tempura, which really worked as the sweetness of the vegetable escaped through and counter-balanced the batter while crispy cauliflower and pak choi was right up my street with a smoky tinge.   Octopus was like little paprika-punching sausages, fat and ready to burst and a Russian salad of mayo and carbs and mayo, was naughty but o so nice and converted my companion’s original thoughts on such dishes (as in not to be eaten EVER).

The next wave, featured that Spanish fave of croquettes, and these were melt-in-the-mouth fluffy moments with sparks of intense ham (thanks again piggies), whilst chicken wings had a picon sauce to die or kill for.

But the stand out dish was the lamb (don’t worry am not getting into his backstory) which had been marinated for 24 hours and was simply fantastic. The other triumph was a chicken rice dish, again a credit to the chucks.

The puddings were both variations of custard concoctions which I adore, given an upmarket, contemporary feels as Crema Catalan Foam was like a smooth silky kiss, a perfect ending.

VIVA verdict: A bullish performance with some great, contemporary tapas and a proper tasty heritage. Can do cheap eats to go to town. Visit http://www.ibericarestaurants.com/ for reservations and deals.

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