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Thursday, 5 January 2017

An Introduction to Ibérica Glasgow, St. Vincent St, Glasgow

Glasgow restaurants, Spanish restaurants, Glasgow, Food blogger, Gerry's Kitchen
In recent times, Glasgow has emerged as the country's fastest growing city for new bar and restaurant openings, with national operators and independents keen to capitalise on its vibrant eating and drinking scene. One of the benefits of being a blogger is getting the chance to try out new restaurants either just before they open or once things have settled down after their official launch which is the reason that I found myself inside Ibérica Glasgow just before Christmas.
Many years ago, the building housed an old branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland and thanks to an extensive refurbishment job by top Spanish designer Lazaro Rosa Voilan, the building once again oozes class whilst bringing the ambience of Spain to Glasgow's city centre.
With eight restaurants across the country, it would be easy to think that Ibérica is just another chain restaurant but you couldn't be further from the truth. Ibérica have made a committed effort to source all produce directly from the best Spanish producers making sure that each restaurant exudes a raw passion for authenticity, as well as premium quality. Furthermore, the menu is overseen by executive chef Nacho Manzano, who has an impressive 3 Michelin stars to his name (2 for his celebrated restaurant Casa Marcial and a further star for La Salgar, in Asturias, Spain), who also trains Ibérica's chefs helping them get a better understanding and respect of more traditional ways of cooking in certain parts of Spain.
Glasgow restaurants, Spanish restaurants, Glasgow, Food blogger, Gerry's Kitchen
Once myself and the other guests had arrived, we were given an introduction to Ibérica by Chef Cesar Garcia, Group Head Chef, and served a selection of canapés with a chilled glass of cava. In addition to being a very luxurious restaurant, Ibérica Glasgow also encourages casual diners to sit at the bar with a freshly prepared bocadillo and cold crisp beer or glass of wine.
Glasgow restaurants, Spanish restaurants, Glasgow, Food blogger, Gerry's Kitchen
In order to showcase what Ibérica is all about, Chef Cesar Garcia had created a tasting menu that included no less than 16 different dishes which had been matched with some very nice wines.
Our first selection of tapas dishes included;
  • Green asparagus toast with Manchego, confit onion & truffle oil
  • Sweet aubergine, confit Style with honey and pine nuts
  • Warm salad of roasted pumpkin, goat's cheese & lemon thyme, with an orange dressing
  • Ham croquetas, their signature dish made with Serrano ham
  • Fried chorizo lollipops, an Ibérica classic served with pear alioli
Every taverna in Spain reckons that they make the best croquetas in the country and with a Michelin starred chef at the helm, Ibérica can hold their head up high. The Serrano ham gave the croquetas a good depth of flavour which worked incredibly well with the wonderful Lusco Albariño that had been served with this round of tapas. I'm really enjoying Albariño right now so it's good to know that Ibérica have a decent opti n on their wine list.
Glasgow restaurants, Spanish restaurants, Glasgow, Food blogger, Gerry's Kitchen
Next up came a wide selection of meat and fish dishes which included;
  • Beef cheek carpaccio, cooked and finely sliced with truffle potato purée, sweet potatsweet potato crisps and tartare sauce
  • Mini burgers, sliders of secreto pork loin served with pickled Pippara peppers
  • Fresh mackerel with roast potato in a clam and garlic sauce, served with parsley and seaweed emulsion
  • Octopus a la Gallega, their Galician style octopus with potatoes and pimenton de la Vera
  • Venison meatballs with apple purée
  • Oxtail sandwich with tartare sauce and potato cream
  • Pluma, Ibérico pork loin (from the charcoal Josper oven)
  • Botillo, a speciality from El Bierzo,chopped and marinated cuts of pork, lightly smoked before cooking. This was presented as Ibérico's Version of haggis
All of the meat dishes were delicious although special mention must go to the mini burgers. Secreto is a wonderful cut of pork and worked well when finely chopped to form the juicy burgers. In fact, they were so good, I helped myself to three of those bad boys!

There were a lot of big flavours in their round of tapas and the matched Viña Santa Marina wine , a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes, done a great job in balancing those flavours on the palate.

Glasgow restaurants, Spanish restaurants, Glasgow, Food blogger, Gerry's Kitchen
After so many savoury dishes, I wasn't sure that I could manage dessert but knowing how the Spanish love their puddings, it would have been rude to refuse. The last selection of dishes to be served to us included;
  • Caramelised Spanish rice pudding
  • Gloria cheesecake
  • Churros con chocolate
The cheesecake was surprisingly light, served with a sharp raspberry coulis and zingy raspberry sorbet. The rice pudding was as rich and sweet as I expected it to be but that didn't stop me going back for more. I love rice pudding and Ibérica have a pretty special version that I'll look forward to trying again. It wouldn't be Spanish if churros didn't make the menu and the deep fried dough sticks that we were served were as good as any that I've had in Spain - especially when dipped in to the warm chocolate sauce. Our last wine on the night was a chilled glass of Casta Diva Moscatel from Alicante, a fantastic wine with a floral notes and raisins on the nose and a complex taste of orange peel, honey and spice - a perfect balance to the rich rice pudding dish.

It's safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Ibérica Glasgow and thanks to Chef Garcia's thoughtful tasting menu, I already know some of the dishes that I will be ordering next time I visit.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Ibérica Glasgow to friends and family and whilst the menu may not be the cheapest out there, I believe that the quality of cooking, generous portion sizes and the luxurious surroundings will have diners returning time and again.

I would like to thank the staff and management for inviting me along to try out the latest branch of Ibérica and wish them every success in the future.

Keep up to date with news from Ibérica Glasgow on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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