I’ve known of Iberica Manchester for some time, but as a Muslim with no interest in anything pork related, it’s always been way off my radar. When I received an invitation to sample their new spring menu, I politely went back reiterating that ham really wasn’t my thing and that there may be a blogger better suited if they had a set menu in mind… however I was assured there would be plenty of pescetarian options available for me to enjoy: sans pork, sans alcohol.
Hmm… ok, I figured what the heck. Spanish tapas is something I loved in Spain, so hopefully there would be plenty to surprise me, even though the restaurant is actually named after a ham.
An interior scheme I’ve admired for some time, I was always in love with their large window front, shrouded by rich velvet curtains and mood lighting. In the heart of Spinningfields, I’ve only ever heard great things about Iberica, perhaps more from people who want to enjoy the wine rather than the food.
G and I arrived in time to enjoy some pre-dinner snacks downstairs by the bar area. The first thing to land on our table of bloggers… a beautifully laid out plate of meat. Oh Lord. I really hoped this wasn’t one of those occasions where the vegetarian options were going to be a few carrot sticks.
Luckily, after the plate of meat, came the plate suitable for vegetarians. Four different types of cheese and tomato bread. As the marketing director told us tales of passion, food preparation love stories, we tucked in to what was a great cheese board collection, something I would have happily enjoyed pre and post meal.
Next, came a bit of ‘porron’ education. A traditional Spanish wine pitcher, which pours the same way as a watering can. Porron’s are not only perfect bottles for storing wine in, due to the way you drink from them, it allows them to be shared by many people without any hygiene worries.
I know, you’re probably wondering why on earth am I explaining a wine vessel to you when I don’t even drink? Well, Iberica had filled said vessel with water that day for us all to have a go and it was so much fun!!! I must admit not many people were too keen on trying it, watching the waiters execute it with precision was a tough act to follow. G and I were more than happy to try it out, I obviously got water all over myself, G managed to do a much better job. I would totally buy a porron to bring out at dinner parties!
Porron activities over it was time to go upstairs. G had been nudging me to check with the staff whether they remembered we don’t eat meat, but between the walk from the bar to the first floor I just didn’t get a chance.
Nervous about what was ahead, we took our seats and boom. There it was. A menu. A set menu suitable for PESCETARIANS.
It turned out our dining companions opposite were also veggies (@eatandtwoveg) so we were in the right company.
Course by course, the dishes came out… some good, some great, some amazing. My little joke earlier about being fed carrot sticks actually came true as baby carrot tempura was on the menu – but I assure you these were no ordinary fried carrots. They were absolutely delicious and tasted nothing like they should have. Soft to bite into, lightly battered and a tapas snack I would order again for sure.
Alongside the baby carrot was crispy cauliflower and pak choi, octopus a la gallega and ensaladilla rosa. The carrots were up there as one of the favourites followed closely by the octopus, a dish I’ve only ever had in Spain but this was just as good.
Next up was a selection of mains: strawberry and beetroot salad; cod brandada; hake a la gallega and garlic prawns with pasta. We were also treated to a fresh, perfectly-cooked paella. Wait, let me rephrase that, the paella was originally for the two veggie eaters, but they were kind enough to share and we’re so glad they did. Simmered to the right consistency, it had all the feels of when G and I first had our first proper paella on Barcelonata beach.
One dish you absolutely must order, which I never in a million years would have considered is the strawberry and beetroot salad. I can’t even tell you how unusual it tasted. Unusual in a nice way, of course. I normally hate fruit in salads and have never liked beetroot. But this, I LOVED.
Oh, and no night at a Spanish restaurant is complete without churros 🙂
All in all, I was really impressed by the standard and service of the evening. I loved how knowledgeable the staff were and how in a restaurant which actually has quite a high profile alcohol reputation, everyone was very honest about which foods contained any form of alcohol or even animal gelatine, making sure that people like me can rest assured my dietary requirements have been met.
My only complaint, and its a BIG one, is that the croquettes on the menu are made with ham 🙁 I think my heart broke when I sat down and saw (and smelt) how amazing they looked. So Iberica if you read this, perhaps you could jazz one of those mouth-watering creations with a touch of fish some time? 😉
Had a lovely time meeting some new bloggers (Hey @madeupstyle and the aforementioned @eatandtwoveg) and spending an evening with my favourite friend tasting food that brought back some great Spanish memories.
Must take Mo back next time we start to feel some Spanish holiday withdrawal.
*** Thank you to Iberica for inviting us to sample the Spring menu. Of course all opinions, thoughts and musings are my own and the pictures once again have only had brightness adjusted (it was quite dark upstairs!!) ***