Iberica Canary Wharf (London)

(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.

Three varieties of Iberico ham
Three varieties of Iberico ham

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.

Interior

Interior

A piece of simple finesse were the asparagi in a light tempura,

Asparagus tempura with Romesco sauce

Asparagus tempura with Romesco sauce

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:

Beetrot gazpacho

Beetrot gazpacho

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.

Excellent Iberico pork

Excellent Iberico pork

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,

Cheese selection

Cheese selection

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)

Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la Gallega

plus water and two glasses of decent wine, plus breads with tomatoes,

Bread with tomato

Bread with tomato

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.

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Cambio de Tercio: Disappointing return

Just a short update (and photo-less: this meal wasn’t meant to lead to a post…) to temper the glowing report on our first visit at Cambio de Tercio

It was obviously too good to be true.

The jamon, while having good flavour, was depressingly far from the delicacy the real thing can be (our memories of the real thing, during a recent trip to Spain, still painfully vivid). This was so hard and stringy (and also poorly cut) that we enquired whether maybe it was from a paleta (front leg), which can be a little harder. No, it’s jamon, they assured us. So we guess they had just picked the worst bits: thank you.

A John Dory was presented with its flaccid skin and the accompanying squid wasn’t properly cleaned.


The waiter made a lot of difficulty with our choice of wine (for information, a Quercus 2005 at £63 selling about £20 retail). ‘I’m sorry, we have run out, why don’t you get this one which is very similar?’. ‘How can it be very similar, it’s a 2010 vintage?’. ‘Ah OK, how about this one?’. ‘It’s also 2010…’. ‘OK, maybe I have the Quercus, let me see’. And indeed, probably after a search that he hadn’t relished, he came back with the bottle…whose content arrived only much much later to our uncomfortable table, after the jamon had already been served.


And so on…

After this experience, when in a ‘Spanish mood’ we’ll try some of the other choices in London. 

Or maybe, we’ll use the savings made on wine markups and we’ll fly direct to Spain…We noticed a disturbingly excessive £80 price tag on a Crianza Pago de Carraoviejas (a Ribera del Duero), when in Malaga we had the Reserva version of the same for fifty euros (40 pounds)!

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Cambio de Tercio (London): Tapas!

(Visited July 2012)



  (Added 23/09/12: see our much more negative more recent experience)

Trying to liven up a grey London Summer day with some Spanish fire…

Here we are at Cambio de Tercio, for an all-tapas lunch that was pleasant, in a relaxed and straightforward way, a series of  colorful and balanced dishes, dishes with a clear personality that also showed culinary skill and interest in presentation. Like these beetroots:


And there were some particularly striking dishes that went beyond pleasant: the Gazpacho Andaluz, vividly coloured, fresh and intense, refined by the presence of a lovely bogavante (lobster),



the pulpo a la Gallega, very soft, plump, in a luscious potato cream (we’ve had far rougher versions in Galicia: this was classy cooking),



and the tomatoes 8-hour cooked in Pedro Ximenes with a basil ‘tartare’, the tomatoes a delicious concentration of sweet flavour, the tartare (spherified basil) once again providing the touch that elevates this dish far above rustic or home-made



We accompanied the meal with an excellent fino,



at the same time rounder and more structured than the most popular supermarket brands (which we also find perfectly pleasant, by the way).



The prices are very reasonable, with pretty large tapas from £6-7 to £12 for the most luxurious ingredients, and mains (which we didn’t  have) in the £15-£20 range. You can easily have a satisfactory lunch for £30 or so if you choose well. We are told that it can get very busy here at dinner or in certain periods, but on this occasion there were just a few tables, well attended to by an efficient and attentive waitress.

Spanish cuisine is one of the most appealing in the world and London is lucky to have such a good representation of it at Cambio de Tercio, a place where there is evident care for ingredient quality and expert treatment of them. If we lived at reasonable distance, we’d be there often.


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