Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Restaurant Review - Ibérica Restaurant, Spinningfields, Manchester

As many of you will know, I am a huge fan of Ibérica Restaurants having enjoyed many great nights with friends and family at the Glasgow branch as well as being treated to a wonderful tasting menu when we visited Ibérica in Leeds last year.
There’s so much to love about Ibérica from the amazing menu that has been created by 3 Michelin starred Exec Chef, Nacho Manzano  to the top quality ingredients that are carefully selected and imported from Spain, that every time we introduce someone to the brand, they are immediately blown away.

Over the Christmas break, myself and Nicola spent a couple of days in Manchester and upon hearing that we would be in the city, we were kindly invited  to dinner at Ibérica Manchester which is located in the trendy Spinningfields area. After a busy day of Christmas sale shopping we took advantage to the free shuttle buses that navigate Manchester City centre and made our way along to the restaurant for some pre-dinner drinks.

Both the Glasgow and Leeds restaurants are housed within beautiful old building that exude class and character but as Ibérica Manchester is located within a purpose built shopping and dining complex, we wondered if it would still be as grand as the others that we have visited. 
We needn’t have worried because as soon as you walk through the door, you are immediately transported from industrial Manchester to upmarket Madrid. The main dining area is located upstairs but set back from the front of the building helping create a huge high ceiling over bar area downstairs. Dark wood, red painted walls, huge vintage posters of Flamenco dancers and Matadors help complete the transportation and really got us in the mood for the Spanish feast that awaited us.
Ibérica pride themselves on offering their customers the best quality produce from Spain including a fantastic selection of Ibérico and Serrano ham which we were able to watch being expertly sliced as we sat enjoying a glass of cava before dinner. 

When it comes to the wine list, Ibérica source from different regions of Spain with the aim of representing the rich diversity of Spanish. As part of this effort, the team source wines from small boutique wineries that are not available anywhere else in the UK. 
We have worked our way though the wine list over recent visits and after recently booking our holiday for this year to Andalusia, we decided to sample a bottle of Cloe, a Chardonnay from Bodega Doña Felisa in Ronda which falls within the D.O. Sierras de Malaga. 
The wine is bright yellow in colour and full of citrus and tropical notes although there is a little vanilla in the background thanks to the wine being aged for two months in French oak barrels. This was a great introduction to Andalusia and if we have time when in the south of Spain later their year, we might take a drive to the Bodega to try some of their other wines.

The menu at Ibérica has a huge range of choice, which is broken down into Charcuterie, Artisan Cheeses, From the Land, Salads & Vegetables, From the Sea, Eggs & Croquetas, From the Grill, and Rice in Paella. With so much choice, there’s something for everyone and although we have our own favourite dishes we always look to try something new when we can.
That said, we started with our usual a portion of Half and Half, a board with three different cheeses and three different meats including a wonderful air cured beef that I just can’t get enough of. No tapas night would be complete without some bread and the Toasted Bread (sourdough) with Tomato was delicious. 
As you would expect when ordering tapas, the food comes out as and when it’s ready so my review below is all about the food, not the order that it arrived at the table.

We actually managed to try two new dishes tonight starting with breaded artichoke hearts stuffed with ham and onion on a Sherry sauce. This was a clever dish with a great balance of texture and flavour. Softened onion and ham had been stuffed inside the tender hearts of artichokes, wrapped in breadcrumbs before being deep-fried. The artichoke hearts were cooked well with a soft buttery texture which worked well with the salty ham stuffing. The simple Sherry sauce was rich, velvety and the perfect match for the big flavours of this dish.

You can’t do tapas without doing tortilla and the traditional Spanish omelette at Ibérica is as good as I’ve had in Spain. With the choice of soft, medium or firm finish, they can cook your omelette just as you like it. We asked for ours to be cooked medium and it arrived, well seasoned, packed with soft cubes of potato with a tiny bit of wobble in the middle. Perfect!

The other dish that we were trying for the first time was Garlic Prawns with Fideos. (Fideos is an angel hair pasta from Spain) The Fideos is somewhere between spaghetti and vermicelli and had been tossed in olive oil, a ton of garlic and chilli and topped with four juicy prawns -be warned though as it packs a spicy punch. This dish was so much better than I expected although with plump prawns, chilli, garlic and pasta, it was always going to be a winner. 
On my first visit to Ibérica in Glasgow I recall eating five Ibérica burgers, and every time we have been back, we have always made sure to order a portion. These are the cutest little burgers made with secreto pork and topped with a pickled Pippara pepper - sweet pork and buttery brioche bun are almost perfect but throw in the sharpness of the pickled spicy pepper and you’ll understand why I ate five on that first night. The sliders are served with a couple of deep fried plantain chips and a wholegrain mustard and honey dipping sauce. I’m not a massive fan of the chips but Nicola loves them so this is one of the few dishes that I’m happy to let her take the lions share.
The last of our dishes was the twice cooked lamb with marinated cherry tomatoes and red peppers from León. On the plate, this doesn’t look like much but the depth of flavour is so intense that the portion size is just about right for two people sharing. The meat is soft and tender although maybe a little too rich on its own but thankfully the sweet tomatoes, earthy peppers and accompanying pea purée help cut through the big flavours of the lamb. 

Once again we were unable to make it to the dessert menu which is a pity as the churros are to die for but we really didn’t have the room. 

Now that we have eaten in three different branches of Ibérica, I can honestly say that the quality and service have been consistent across the brand. We might have been in Glasgow, Leeds or Manchester but we could easily have been in Barcelona, Madrid or Seville because I truly believe that Ibérica Restaurants deliver everything that I would expect to get from a high end restaurant anywhere in Spain and that’s why I will continue to recommend Ibérica to friends and family.

We dined as guests of Ibérica Manchester but the review above is an honest account of our experience on the night. We would like to thank the staff and management at Ibérica Manchester for their hospitality and generosity and hope to visit again soon.

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



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