The culture and authenticity of tapas is difficult to recreate outside Spain, but Iberica in Marylebone is as close as it gets. Friendly waiters, relaxed ambience and enthusiastic eating all make for a lovely dining experience.
There is a buzzy atmosphere instantly you walk into this spacious restaurant. Staff zoom past carrying plates of appetising food, sweet smells waft tantalisingly… suddenly I was starving.
Plump stuffed olives arrived instantly to accompany our cocktails. Iberica have recently starting serving a selection of classic cocktails, we tried mojitos which were ice cold and very refreshing, the mint cleansing our palates before the epic feast.
When I was a child my favourite meal was ‘assiette de papa’ a selection of bits and bobs from the fridge prepared by my dad. Usually this would consist of salami and cheese and other deli like products, ever since I’ve been a big fan… and no country does salami and cheese as well as Spain. The Artisan Iberico ham counter has pride of place centrally in the Iberica restaurant. Here a proud carver creates gorgeous displays of cold meats for guests. I was thrilled with our selection which was carefully explained to us on presentation. Divine thin slivers of melt in the mouth Iberico pork had a rich and salty flavour. The Manchego cheese was delicious too, very creamy and perfectly paired with the meat.
The tapas is split into four comprehensive sections: From the Sea, From the Land, Vegetables, Eggs & Croquettes. We ordered a variety, predominantly chosen by my little sister, who knew exactly what she wanted almost immediately after glancing at the menu so I didn’t get much say in the matter, but I was glad I insisted on Grilled Iberico pork loin, as this rich marinated meat is one of my favourites. Other must-try dishes include mini Iberica burgers with secreto pork loin & Piparras peppers – adorable and yummy in equal measure. The Ham and cheese croquettes are heavenly balls of gooey creaminess, especially nice with the green salad. We both adored the inventive Tempura of spring onion with lemon aioli & soy sauce: wonderfully light batons, very fresh and tasty. The Potatoes with spicy brava was the best I have had… cubes of soft and crispy potato covered generously with bright orange spicy sauce.
The food was all top notch, my only criticism was there was a little too much wait between the individual tapas plates arriving… all the greenery came first, then potatoes, and finally when the meat arrived a while later, all the rest of the food had either been removed from the table or was cold. It was a shame because the dishes were all delicious separately but would have been even more satisfying mixed and matched and eaten together.
The desserts at Iberica are light and summery, which I really appreciated after over-ordering on the tapas front. ‘La Tarta de la Abuela’ has been interpreted personally by Iberica who have created an irresistibly good chocolatey mousse with a vanilla cream topping and crumbs of buttery biscuit… a sensational combination. I tried the interesting sounding Strawberry soup with yoghurt and chocolate… this arrived immaculately arranged in a glass, thick fruit soup topped with a yoghurt flavoured foam and several thin chocolate rods. It was good but not as good as my sister’s chocolate La Tarta.
The mere fact that I noticed lots of Spanish diners in Iberica proves this eatery’s authenticity and merit. If you can’t get to Marylebone try the Canary Wharf branch.
More information on Iberica here: http://www.ibericalondon.co.uk/ibericalondon/