The Iberica opening has certainly made a splash in Leeds; you can’t scroll through Twitter without seeing a tweet about it or someone checking themselves in on Facebook, surely that bathroom needs its own Instagram geotag by now? You’ve got to hand it to the team – they know how to create some noise. But was the noise worthwhile? A few friends and I paid a visit to find out.
We started with a few drinks in the bar which gives you a view into the restaurant. I’m putting it out there now, it is probably the most gloriously beautiful restaurant I’ve eaten it. All high ceilings, stunning lighting and furniture you’d sell your family for. There’s no two ways about it; Iberica has style so I was eager to find out about the substance.
The drinks menu is extensive and after a few glasses of cava (£6 a glass) we were recommended a bottle of red to accompany the meal; a very drinkable medium bodied wine, La Zorra (£38 for a bottle). Along with a huge range of choice, there’s also a good range of price. The less pricey bottles start at the early £20s and work their way up to £830 (y’know in case you have more money than sense).
We nibbled on some Manzanilla Olives (£2.50) whilst we set about navigating the menu. It’s split into a few different parts; Cured Meats & Cheeses, Tapas, Mains & Larger Dishes. We went for mostly the smaller plates as there were 4 of us and we wanted to try as much as possible. The staff were absolutely lovely, recommending their favourites and must trys. First out was Toasted Bread with Tomato (£3) simple, not over worked and with a good hit of garlic. Then some cured meats (I can’t remember for the life of me which ones though) and the Santa Gadea Mini Black Label Goats Cheese (£6) – it’s really clear to see the excellent quality of the produce Iberica use with the meats & cheese. Patatas Bravas (£5); a sizeable bowl of perfectly crispy potatoes. Personally I prefer a more tomato based sauce than this spicy aioli style but they were still really very good. Calamari (£9.50) which were decent enough but nothing to write home about considering they were at the top end of the tapas prices, a bigger pinch of salt seasoning the batter wouldn’t have gone a miss.
Next out was “The Iberica Fish & Chips” (£5.50); nothing too exciting in itself were the battered fish and crispy little potato cubes but the green mojo sauce made the dish sing (I’ve helpfully not included it in the picture). A traditional garlicky, coriander sauce from the Canary Islands that gave the plate a big punch of flavour. We also had the Iberica Burgers (£7) which were lovely little bites of pork loin patty topped with a pickled chili pepper. The Cauliflower Tempura (£4) were probably my biggest disappointment of the night. Although they weren’t greasy and the cauliflower still al dente so technically ‘right’ they lacked oomph and tasted fairly bland. On the flip side the Asparagus Toast (£5) was one of my favourite plates of the evening; melted Manchego cheese topped with asparagus, confit onions and truffle oil – all the good things!
The final lot of food to come out were the Pork Belly Steamed Bao (£5.50), if I’m honest I think I’m more of a bao purist and prefer it with Asian flavours although some of my group raved about them. The Iberica Croquettes (£6) were packed full of a rich cheese and Serrano ham flavour (oh how I wish we’d ordered more of these) and finally we finished on the Chorizo Lollipops (£5). Like the cured meats at the start of the meal the quality of the chorizo is evident, I’m not sure how much the batter did for it but we enjoyed the chorizo nevertheless.
We’d made a decent dent in the menu but could still manage dessert. Portions aren’t massive at Iberica (well it is tapas…), and if you’re ordering like we were between a fair few then those little sliders don’t go very far buuuuuuut it does mean you can just order more of what you liked!
For pudding we opted for our waitress’s (who was fantastic by the way) recommendation. We all shared the Churros (£4), the Textures of Chocolate (£5.50) and the Tocinillo de Cielo (£5). The churros was as good as any I’ve had; not too greasy and with a deep, rich chocolate dipping sauce. I don’t hugely remember the Textures of Chocolate which I guess means it was neither fantastic or horrible. I do however very much remember the Tocinillo de Cielo. Totally not the sort of dessert I’d ever usually go for, similar to flan but lighter. Velvety smooth and the salted caramel ice cream lifted the dish from just toeing the line of too sweet – the perfect end to the meal.
So was Iberica style over substance? Not entirely, yes there were a few dishes that missed the mark and I have absolutely no doubt that you’re paying for the style (because oh how it oozes style) however I hope that given a bit of time to settle into their new home they’ll bring all of their dishes up to the same level. I reckon I’ll more than likely be visiting again in future, they’ll most probably find me in that bathroom with a plate of the Tocinillo de Cielo…
The meal was complimentary, views are my own though.