For great tapas head to Iberica Marylebone
We used to live around the corner from Iberica and were one of its early customers, when it opened in 2008.
It brings back memories of having a baby at home and sneaking out to meet my similarly sleep deprived girl friends for a glass of wine and a semblance of a conversation that didn’t involve weaning and the merits of local playgrounds and schools!
I had not been there for a while but recently enjoyed a lovely Sunday lunch with the family. When you walk into the refurbished Marylebone restaurant (there are now branches in Canary Wharf and Farringdon) you are immediately struck by how bright and airy it ihe blue and white tiles and large Moorish lamps together with lots of natural wood and leather furniture create a warm ambiance that reminds me of Seville.
The lightness of the interior mirrors a new freshness in the food. I find that tapas can be a bit “hit and miss” and as I don’t eat pork the choice can be somewhat limited. The executive chef Nacho Manzano has three Michelin stars to his name and the quality and variety of the dishes has certainly improved a lot.
I have always been impressed by the staff who are keen to share their recommendations and knowledge of regional specialities with you. Alvaro, the restaurant manager took good care of us and helped us to select some sherries for our aperitif. If you tell him what characteristic you like, he will find the right one for you. There is also a good range of cocktails and speciality gins to whet the appetite.
We enjoyed a crunchy salad with Valdeon cheese, spinach and apple; tender octopus; ensaladilla with tuna and vegetables; fabulous corn fritters with Cabrales cheese and scrambled egg as well as a tempura style fish and tasty potatoes with piquant brava.
There is a comprehensive list of Spanish wines, many from independent wine producers and some exclusive to Iberica. We enjoyed a carafe of the Maneki Albarin which is produced in limited quantity by a boutique vineyard.
For our main course we shared an intensely flavoured seafood paella that was generously garnished with prawns. The menu has a good range of seafood, meat and vegetarian choices not to mention an impressive array of Iberico ham that is the speciality of the restaurant.
We finished off our meal with a Spanish style rice pudding with a caramelised topping and a trio of cheese. Given that it is January and with good intentions to be healthier, we decided to forego a sweet sherry or digestive.
I recommend Iberica for a lively evening of drinks and tapas with friends or a leisurely weekend meal with family or friends.
Iberica Marylebone, 195 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5PS
Tel 020 7636 8650
Nuzy Sayani is Catwalkschoolgates’ restaurant reviewer. Nuzy lives in Marylebone with her husband and seven year old son. She is a technology lawyer and loves the theatre, cinema, is an avid reader and likes nothing more than trying out new restaurants. Nuzy will be sharing her dining experiences with us and would love to hear from you with your recommendations