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PREVIEW: Iberica Examined

Jonathan Schofield gets spoiled in London a month before the Manchester launch

Written by . Published on February 3rd 2015.


PREVIEW: Iberica Examined
 

SO ON Thursday a pair of us got the 9.55am train from Piccadilly to Euston and got the 3pm train back to Manchester. We did this because these travel times are non-peak and thus tickets only cost something like £20k, as opposed to peak tickets which involve signing up for twelve years indentured labour to pay off the debt.

Absolutely gorgeous beetroot gazpacho - rush in and buy it when it arrives in Manchester. This has red berries, a hint of anchovy, melty ice cream cheese and a great generosity of spirit. 

The funny thing about the trip was arriving home and telling the kids who'd just got back from school we'd been to London for lunch. It's good to be smug sometimes. 

Next time I eat in Ibérica I won't have to worry about peak or non-peak, as on 4 March Ibérica opens in Spinningfields... have we mentioned this before on Confidential? 

We went to the Farringdon branch of Ibérica, a very handsome restaurant which was formerly a goldsmiths, but closed when it became apparent all the gold in London had been bought by Russian oligarchs and UAE 'princes' and stored in walk-in safes in Mayfair. The restaurant has a big bar, big windows, lots of wood. It's lovely. There's even a fake Valasquez the size of a snooker table showing Phillip III of Spain, a particularly dull monarch from the House of Habsberg.

Phillip III angry about drinkPhillip III angry about drink

Ex-goldsmiths in Farringdon, lovelyEx-goldsmiths in Farringdon, lovely

I'm not sure a place as lush with food and drink as Ibérica is the right place for this monarch. Phillip III was called Phillip the Pious and, oddly enough, I know quite a bit about him. This was a king obssessed by that dangerous passion, religion, whose 'only virtue appeared to reside in a total absence of vice'. How sick is that?  

I stopped worrying about Pious Phil when the three hams arrived. The central one made me smile stupidly. This was Jabugo ham and is an astonishingly complex and yet subtle meat from Andalusia, hung for - was it forty months the waiter said? The depth of flavour, nutty, creamy fat, makes it easy to understand why this is an award-winning ham. Apparently it won the best Spanish ham of the year award last year although due to prior engagements could only recieve its gong via satellite link.

Three jams with the piggy in the middle the best, and some lovely fat cocklesThree jams with the piggy in the middle the best, and some lovely fat cockles

With the hams came big fat delicious cockles inside an array of lemon unslices which made the whole dish look not unlike an edible woodlouse. Loved these cockles, juicy they were madam, perfect.

This is the key to Ibérica, the care with which the products are chosen, and comes from the lead given by two star Michelin chef Nacho Manzano, whom Gordo and I met last August in his home province of Asturias. Nacho nearly killed us both on the motorway to Oviedo in, it must be said, a most entertaining manner. He loves a combo of sea and earth flavours, and he loves his Asturias, all of which is reflected on Ibérica's menu.

The sourdough bread with the oil was a dream too. Other standouts included an absolutely gorgeous beetroot gazpacho - rush in and buy it when it arrives in Manchester. This has red berries, a hint of anchovy, melty ice cream cheese and a great generosity of spirit. 

The Best Gazpacho In The World

 

The best gazpacho in the world

The spring onion tempura you were supposed to dip into alioli or soy were hit-and-miss because the dish seemed to be straying too far from Spain, also if you got the wrong spring onion, the tempura flaked off and you were left with a stringy line of green veg hanging inelegantly from your gob. The croquettes didn't do it for me either but then I always find croquettes loose and alarming no matter the intrinsic qualities.

Spring onion tempura - a bit difficult to eat

 

Spring onion tempura - a bit difficult to eat

Dsc_0439Gloria Cachopo

The asparagus, manchego, onion confit with truffle oil on toast restored confidence while the twice cooked lamb (main image) brought the smile back big time. The lamb flesh flaked like a dream and was suffused with all the sweetness of accompanying marinated cherry tomatoes and red peppers. This worked better than another meat main, the Gloria Cachopo, a fried beef and Ibérico pork patty filled with Asturian cheeses. This is as close to a burger as Ibérica gets and while the flavours are good I found the textures too slippy and loose.

A classic Spanish rice pudding, coated in cinnamon and with a creme brulee carmelised top, was exceptional as was the cheesecake with Galician parmesan and dried strawberries. These were desserts as good as any of the mains - something I don't often write. 

Oh very good

Oh very good

Wine was decanted into vessels which looked like the potware the cider drinkers of Asturias use to launch cider into their glasses - the el escanciado technique. From light and crisp whites to full smoky reds all of Spain is represented. 

Back on the train reading a book on the House of Habsburg and racing my woodlice up and down the compartment it struck me how much I'd enjoyed this meal. What is especially interesting about Ibérica are the prices, the tapas are mainly £4 and £5, easily comparable to the Spanish operators in Manchester. With both value and quality, this place will be a hit. 

Ibérica Spinningfields will open in early March 2015.

Menu here.

Farringdon's Iberica

 

Farringdon's Iberica

Pretty barPretty bar

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

RayFebruary 3rd 2015.

I couldn't read this review, because the first word you used was So... so I knew it would be pretentious straightaway.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 4th 2015.

I imagine Ray you dress like a Puritan and despise public demonstrations of amusement.

Ghostly TomFebruary 3rd 2015.

Was the wine decanted or dicanted? I tend to avoid places where they do the latter.

JuanFebruary 3rd 2015.

Very good article. congratulations. That ham shows an exquisite look. A group of friends are developing a website to promote everything about the Spanish ham. The web, written in English is hamspanish.com… much information denominations, classes, recipes and general information about Spanish ham. Regards

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2015.

Spring onion tempura looks really, really poor. The batter looks disastrous. "The best gazpacho in the world"? Really? Given the review was written in February and even if the tomatoes are imported from Spain I don't think they are any good this time of year for gazpacho.

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