Ibérica ManchesterIan Jones, Food and Drink Editor
Review by Joe Daly
Iberica is one of the many restaurant groups that have taken their success and acclaim in London to more northern pastures to capture the cash of the growing food and drink culture outside of the capital. These have often found themselves in Manchester – some have succeeded – Hawksmoor is one of the bright spots in Manchester’s food crown. Some have quickly escaped – Busaba barely lasting a year and finding few friends in the city.
Whilst it is unlikely Iberica will ever be as hailed as Hawksmoor for the quality of its food, it has certainly found its niche in Spinningfields, where a constantly busy restaurant supplies a crowd looking for cocktails and a bit of glamour. The high ceilings and stacks of alcohol on the wall mark a very expensive and impressive restaurant interior whilst their new terrace allows a spot of people watching as the light gets dimmer and the crowds get busier.
The selection of Spanish cheeses is well thought out and well presented
As a warm Bank Holiday Sunday began to fade, a Manzano Martini, tasting more like an appletini, could have contained a bit more alcohol to really push the drink into a more substantial one. This is something that does keep cropping up as the meal progresses, for the prices of the dishes you would expect a bit more – the Small Plates does seem to be taken quite seriously as first noted by companion when we had to halve a grape with the cheese. This was a shame as the selection of Spanish cheeses is well thought out and well presented.
We were here mainly to try the paella, often the high point of a traditional Spanish restaurant’s repertoire. Iberica have been tweaking their dish ever since they opened and have unveiled their new dish. Allowing it to cook for longer, and therefore reducing the stock, means the paella caramelises around the sides – we are told this is the traditional way, and when it arrives we can see the burnt crisp edges around the dish. Whilst lacking in any particular complexity, the paella offers a firm and pleasing texture that covers the slightly less flavour than I was hoping for.
The Spanish rice pudding, similar to a creme brulee, was creamy and sweet
The dessert was the highlight, as the Spanish rice pudding, similar to a creme brulee, was creamy and sweet to cut through the saltier elements of Spanish cooking. And of course, it gave just the right crack as the back of the spoon hit it.
Iberica has cemented itself amongst the Spinningfields crowd, and certainly, within the Spinningfields budget and with its new paella recipe, they will happily continue as one of the more successful London interlopers for a long while yet