I don’t usually eat Spanish food, mostly because there aren’t any Spanish restaurants where I live, and as a vegetarian for over 23yrs now I’ve no doubt that I’ve had every kind of vegetable every which way anyway. On a long weekend in Barcelona in my early twenties I had a dish of patatas bravas outside la Sagrada Família whilst admiring Gaudi’s work. I thought they were rather nice, yet different, as I’d never had cubed fried potatoes with a thick tomato sauce before, nor have I since. That was until I came to Iberica Marylebone of course.
The beautiful Spanish gastro restaurant is situated on the corner of Great Portland Street, London, with floor to ceiling glass windows, a sweeping open stair case, wooden tables and twinkling lights. Offering a wide selection of artisan produce and over one hundred wines imported directly from boutique wineries, signature cocktails to compliment the food and a friendly, passionate atmosphere I couldn’t help but get swept up in the Spanish spirit. I decided to eat from the tapas menu which allowed me to choose from a selection of vegetarian dishes and get a taste of everything. To start with I had bread and olive oil for £2.00 whilst waiting for the tapas to arrive as and when it was served. I’m a huge fan of crusty warm bread and a nice bowl of oil, which was served without balsamic vinegar.
Minutes later the tapas started to arrive on individual side plates, dishes and boards and it was a true feast for the senses and palette alike, with such beautiful colours, smells, tastes and textures. I began with the Asparagus, Manchego, Onion Confit & Truffle Oil Toast costing £4.00 and served on a wooden board. Manchego is a beautiful Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk, tasting creamy, smooth and nicely matured without being overpowering. The sweet onion confit was an uplifting touch to the rich green asparagus and crisp truffle oil toast, perfectly charred and of nice contrast to the juicy asparagus and sumptuous cheese. My humble cheese on toast will forever fall in its shadow. Next up I had a bowl of Potatoes With Spicy Brava Or Alioli Sauce costing £5.00. I had my potatoes with the Brava sauce which is a spicy tomato sauce slightly looser than a paste in consistency. I chose this over the Alioli sauce which is made from garlic, olive oil, egg yolks and seasonings as I don’t eat fish or egg. The potatoes were slightly soft and squishy on the inside and crisp on the outside, as I’d imagine they were hand cut and oven baked from raw rather than being boiled first to become fluffy like a chip. This makes the potatoes rather heavy, yet nicely satisfying as they remain dense, and when topped with the smooth spiced sauce are the perfect pick up to lift the dish and leave you licking your lips.
When my plate of Padrón Peppers With Maldon Salt costing £6.00 arrived I expected them to have some sort of filling rather than just being peppers on their own. But when I bit into them I literally couldn’t stop drooling. Much like a slow cooked lamb shank would fall from the bone, the Padrón peppers melted from off the stalk with their seeds intact. They have a beautiful sweet and impossibly smooth mild texture despite being fried, and the Maldon salt really zings against it with a gentle crunch and freshness. My mouth is watering just at the thought of them. I’m quite a puddingaholic and rice pudding is one of my all time favourite desserts. Yet this was my first time trying a Spanish rice pudding, and when the Caramelised Spanish Rice Pudding costing £4.00 was served to me in a pretty clay dish I crunched my spoon through the caramelised cinnamon and sugar top, much like a traditional creme brulee, revealing the cold thick rice pudding below. I’m used to receiving rice pudding warm, but it was just as delicious chilled, thick, sweet and gooey grains of pudding rice that melted in my mouth. I really should have ordered two!
My final dish was the Gloria Cheesecake With Galician Parmesan & Dried Strawberries costing £5.00. The base was moreishly sweet and biscuity, crumbling with the touch of my fork and beautifully dense to bite into, contrasting perfectly with the whipped cream cheese. Although Parmesan cheese isn’t strictly classified as vegetarian due to the outer casing containing fat, it tasted incredible shaved across the top of the cheesecake with a rich and vibrantly fruity strawberry sorbet and dusting of dried strawberries. What a way to end the night on a tastebud tingling high! The tapas was simple, honest and packed with flavour in a wonderful atmosphere with attentive Spanish speaking staff. If you’re looking for a loving wholesome meal, in a trendy modern venue infused with traditional values then Iberica Marylebone is definitely the place to be!
195 Great Portland Street
London W1W 5PS
Monday – Saturday 11.30am – 11.00pm
Sunday 12.00pm – 4.00pm
0207 6368 650