(Visited: December 2012)
It’s perhaps a matter of climate that Iberico ham in London never has that ravishing sweatiness it has in Spain, but it was bliss anyway.
Once one bravely gets over the fact that Spanish food will always lose that je ne sais quois when it’s transported abroad, Iberica gave us much pleasure. Their tapas use ingredients at the high end of the scale. The trio of Ibericos above afforded really interesting comparisons between three incarnations of the delicacy, with subtly different sweetness and fat (for the aficionados they were Beher etiqueta oro from Salamanca; Jabugo; COVAP Alta Expresion-Los Pedroches from Cordoba).
We were at Iberica when we were reminiscing about this. We visited both of their branches (one in Marylebone and the other in Canary Wharf), which serve essentially the same food. These pictures (particularly poor even by our standards, it was very dark in there: sorry) are from the Canary Wharf experience.
A piece of simple finesse were the asparagi in a light tempura,
so tasty and crunchy and well trimmed and nicely cooked, and so was the signature cherry and beetroot gazpacho with anchovies, sweetness saltiness and acidity finely matched:
There was even something better than at Reserva 12: the grilled marinated Iberian pork loin was out of this world, the sweet marinade taking it even higher.
So Iberica can do outstanding, not merely very good, but it’s not perfect: little snags here and there, a romesco sauce with the asparagi that lacked intensity, the ‘nora’ or whatever pepper they used feeling too diluted, (they obviously like it that way, though, as it is identical in both branches…), a vaguely underwhelming cheese dish and (or perhaps because) served too cold,
Let’s not be churlish: this is a very good venue in its genre. Quality is high, cooking is kept simple (simpler for example than at Cambio de Tercio) but sharp, very sharp. Prices are fair: the above, plus an octopus a la gallega (excellent)
plus water and two glasses of decent wine, plus breads with tomatoes,
plus cheese selection and one dessert, was little more than £80. A place to visit again many times for quick, and perhaps even not so quick, meals.