"Ibérica delivers haute tapas in a relaxed and informal manner"Review Rating: Reviewed by Sean Sheehan
Given its location, a stone’s throw from Farringdon tube station, Ibérica’s bar attracts punters at the end of the working day who drop in for quick tapas and wine. The main restaurant is at the back where, once you get over the surprise of seeing a huge painting of Spain’s Philip III on the wall, architectural details of this vintage building can be appreciated: glazed tiles, windows of a semi-industrial design, vertical metal girders shooting up from the ground. All this is softened by wooden flooring, rustic-looking furniture and copies of Picasso’s line drawings -- of a pleasingly erotic kind – hanging about the place. Not wishing to appear too engrossed by their subject matter, I immersed myself in the menu and set about contributing to the choice of as many tapas as my company could handle in one sitting.
The menu is the same as those at Ibérica’s outlets in Marylebone and Canary Wharf but Farringdon’s clientele is a tad more pluralist: work colleagues letting their hair down, couples hanging out, friends socialising. It all made for a jolly atmosphere as we tucked into the trio of Ibérico hams. They vary in saltiness and are all equally delicious with toasted bread smothered with pulped tomato but not cheap (£22) when they disappear off the plate in a jiffy. Gazpacho made with beetroot, anchovy and berries (£4) is unusual but worked a cold treat and, arriving alongside melt-in-your mouth croquettes of ham and béchamel (£6) and roasted vegetables (£5), played its part in a jazzy assembly of tastes.
Coming to Ibérica in a small party obviously allows for more edibles on the table but be forthright with your fork to nab one of the slithers of sea trout that comes with the almond puree and pickled cauliflower (£8). Table etiquette can be saved for the miniature Ibérica burgers (£7), which come each on their own skewer and so cannot be but equally shared out. But back to the food grab for the must-eat signature dish of Galicia – toothsome and tasty octopus (£9) which in Farringdon has a tangy flavour of paprika which I’ve never experienced from the spice sold in supermarkets. By now we were feeling full but space was found for bite-into-me cuttlefish and prawns (£9), with rice turned murky by the cephalopod ink.
Some mention, too, should be made of the drinks spendscape. Most cocktails are a reasonable £8 and the least expensive bottle of Spanish wine costs £24 or 375ml for £13 and 150ml for a fiver. Sangría is by the glass and jug and there are more than half a dozen sparkling wines, plus sherries of course.
Remarkable in what is fast becoming a restaurant chain, Ibérica delivers haute tapas in Farringdon in a relaxed and informal manner. By the end of the evening we all agreed it was necessary to retire and live in Spain so that such food could be enjoyed every day. Until that happy event arrives, I am off to Waitrose to see if they stock jars of those Piparra peppers that came with Ibérica’s miniature burgers.
Sean Sheehan reviewed Iberica on Fri 22 Aug 2014