Home to the very best in Spanish gastronomy, wine and culture – Ibérica has launched onto the food scene of Manchester with plenty of sparks and fizzles.
When I received the invitation to visit Ibérica, I didn’t just jump at the chance – I leapt and dived. Of course I wanted you to come along with us, so to bottle up our visit we made a little film! The restaurant created our own personalised menu which featured some of the favourite food and drink options. With unique tapas dishes, classic wines, superb service and fruity sangria, it really is a restaurant worth noting.
So on a rather blustery Sunday afternoon, we headed to Ibérica with hopes of being whisked off our feet with a taste of Spain. Located near to the heart of Spinningfields, the restaurant is in a pretty perfect and popular place. One of the things which instantly impressed me was the beautifully decorated and relaxing terrace area. It felt like from the moment we entered, we weren’t in Manchester any more.
After being greeted by the restaurant’s Manager, Guillaume Vano, we sat down, turned on our cameras and enjoyed a pitcher of cava sangria. Having previously tried red wine sangria, the cava version really does bring about a bigger punch to an old classic. The fresh fruit soaked up bubbles from the cava and if truth be told, it was the perfect drink which whisked me away to the beaches of Spain (albeit the ones which appear in my dreams!).
A whole array of juicy strawberries, citrusy oranges and ripe pomegranate seeds soaked up the ice cold cava – making this arguably, the drink of the summer.
Before we knew it, a trio of Ibericos arrived at our table. Designed as a sharing platter, this dish features the three Jamón Ibérico Puro de Bellota and is designed to show a journey of the hams travelling from the centre to the south of Spain. We were advised by our waitress to start at one point of the platter and to work our way across given the difference from tender to rather strong and smokey flavours. The cured meats were really delicious and just melted in my mouth.
To accompany the trio of Ibericos we tried manchego romero – an intense sheep milk cheese. I really enjoyed the cheese and found the intense lingering flavour really complimented the cured meats. I may be biased but I do love a good meat and cheese platter, so this was right up my street.
Moving onto the next course, we started by enjoying a gazpacho shot each. I found the gazpacho to be pretty interesting. I thought the vibrant purple colour was really different, but it wasn’t exactly my favourite part of the menu as I’m not a big fan of beetroot and anchovies.
My spirits were soon lifted when the milhojas de escalivada arrived at our table. This simply beautiful dish was presented in such an artistic way – perhaps the paint brush effect of the paste may have something to do with that!
The milhojas de escalivada of smoked & roasted aubergine & red peppers really was a delight to eat. The fresh vegetables blended perfectly together and it was a sharp, tasty and flavoursome dish.
Our side dish of padron peppers with maldon salt was equally a delight. The wrinkly peppers were strong in flavour and the salt crystals sizzled on my tongue.
By this point, I must add my belly was pretty full. The dishes were packed full of amazing tastes and they had seriously warmed up my appetite. Before I could say much more, a further part to our feast arrived at our table – this time with ham croquettes, chorizo lollypops and octopus a la gallega.
One of my ultimate favourite aspects of our dinner simply has to be the chorizo lollypops. Never before have I tried anything like them and if I could, I would eat them until I popped. The fried coating of the lollypops was chewy and hid the balls of tasty chorizo. I thought the lollypops were a really fun dish and are so different to the standard chorizo you may find in other Spanish restaurants.
I found the octopus a la gallega a little different. I really enjoyed the octopus part of the dish and loved the vibrancy of the colours – thanks to the sprinkling of paprika. However one thing that did disappoint me was the potatoes. I think if I was being picky a little more seasoning would have brought the dish together – but apart from this, I think the presentation was really delightful and having been the first time I’ve tried octopus, I would certainly have this dish again.
Up next was the meat section of our menu which offered tiny Iberica burgers and twice cooked lamb. To accompany our meat dishes we tried the Les Pusses red wine which was quite a spicy and smokey wine.
The Ibérica burger with secreto pork loin & Piparra peppers were so tasty. I love the idea of including a burger as part of tapas – but this wasn’t just any standard burger. The meat was so succulent and we could really taste the natural flavour of the meat.
We were able to squeeze in one more meat dish which was the twice cooked lamb with marinated cherry tomatoes, red peppers and a smooth pea puree. I do love a good lamb dish and this certainly lived up to my expectations. The lamb simply fell apart on our plates and it was an incredibly tender piece of meat which was tremendously succulent.
To finish our exceptional and albeit indulgent menu, we enjoyed a slice of the gloria cheesecake with parmesan & dried strawberries. By this point, I was pretty much ready to wrap up in my Iberica blanket for a little nap and so I didn’t catch a photo of this but there’s some downright mouthwatering shots caught on YouTube. All I can say is it was a real dessert – creamy, fresh and fruity – the perfect end to a magnificent meal.
After we finished our meal, we headed inside to the bar and watched the bartenders work their magic with cocktails. The bar staff were really friendly and talked us through the cocktails and the method of preparing them. Before we knew it, two deliciously-looking cocktails were served up for Bogdan and I – the Spinningfields and Smokey Old Fashioned.
The Smokey Old Fashioned cocktail was a pretty charred and smokey drink with an edge of sweetness from the sugar. As a complete contrast, the Spinningfields was seriously creamy and the hint of coffee perfectly blended.
I was really impressed by Ibérica and from my experience I could really feel the passion and authenticity of the restaurant. The staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable about the dishes – they went out of our way to ensure we were happy. As for the food, I’ve tried a variety of Spanish restaurants and in all honesty, nothing comes close to Ibérica.
Although it is a little pricy, you pay for what you get. I think it would be the perfect place for treating your friends, family and loved ones – who wouldn’t love a sangria on the terrace and a whole array of speciality tapas?!
All in all, this is a restaurant which really does have style and is one not to miss.
Don’t forget to check out the video and a huge, great, big thank you to Bogdan for filming, editing and making sense of my random ways!
Thank you to Ibérica, Spinningfields for the complementary meal and opportunity. All opinions are my own.