The last few months of winter quite often had me hibernating in my cosy flat, and like everyone else, I was pretty excited for the arrival of spring: longer daylight hours, beautiful magnolias and cherry blossom trees flowering all around London (and on my Instagram feed), and of course, the tantalizing revamped restaurant spring menus.
All the Ibérica restaurants were designed by Spanish architect Lázaro Rosa Violán that aims to transport you to Spain, and I do love their flagship restaurant in Marylebone, with their floor to ceiling windows, which allows natural light to flood through.
The arrival of spring and brilliant sunny weather outside definitely put me in the mood for some refreshing salads. We started with an incredibly juicy beef tomato that was filled with salmorejo, a chilled, creamy tomato soup thickened with breadcrumbs (similar to gazpacho), topped with garlic breadcrumbs and beetroot granita. I have to admit that I don’t usually order veggie options in Spanish restaurants, but I really enjoyed this, and it certainly looked very vibrant and pretty. The other salads sounded quite interesting too, such as the warm lentil salad with soft cooked egg, and the Cantabric tuna salad. It as nice to see a good variety healthier options for those seeking something lighter.
I do love the classic tapas dishes, and Gambas is usually a must-order for me: juicy prawns in a luscious garlic sauce with a hint of cayenne pepper that is great for dipping bread with. Pulpo is another favourite of mine: a traditional grilled octopus dish that was tender and had a deep, smokey flavour, served on top of potatoes and sprinkled with pimentón de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika).
The poached hake was one of the new dishes that we were recommended, and although it looked quite humble and simple, it had a lovely delicate texture, served with creamy hollandaise sauce and fresh baby gem lettuce leaves. This is a dish that Iberica’s Executive Chef, Nacho Manzano often puts on his own menu at his 2 Michelin-starred restaurant Casa Marcial, in Asturias.
I do miss a good paella, but then my attention was veered towards the prawn and squid ink rice served with alioli. This popular and dramatic tapas dish may not be the most appetizing looking dish to some, but I love it. Warm, comforting and the prawn and squid were fresh and not over-cooked. Just remember not to smile too enthusiatically immediately after prior to downing a glass of water, especially if you’re on a first date …
From the grill, we ordered the Secreto cut, a slightly fattier option compared to the leaner Pluma, which was juicy and delicious, accompanied by Mojo Rojo sauce, rosemary potatoes and peppers.
There is also an extensive wine list, sourced from different regions to showcase the rich diversity of Spanish wines, including wines from small boutique wineries that are not available anywhere else in the UK. We were spoilt for choice, but were given some good recommendations from our waitress, Joanna.
A meal is never complete without dessert: we both shared the coffee flan and the Torrija brioche with apricot coulis, both served with vanilla ice cream on the side, before washing it all down with some coffee hazelnut liqueur.
For those looking for something a bit more casual, they have an amazing bar where you can enjoy drinks and their delicious tapas dishes, and for a moment, have that feeling of being transported back to Spain.
There were plenty more dishes on the menu that sounded good, but I guess we will have to leave that for next time.
The spring menu also features options for gluten-free and vegetarian diners, including a delicious dish of sauteed spring vegetables topped with melted Idiazabel, a vegetarian cheese from Navarra. You can try out their new spring menu at any one of their branches around London and around UK (Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow) and experience a taste of Spain for yourself: click on their website to find out more.
The Cheekster, signing out x
* I was invited to review