Iberica – St Vincent Street, Glasgow
Who knew how much we have in common north-west Spain!
Not I. But as conversation drifted during our exquisite meal to recollection of a small village brass band loudly playing as colourful bunting swayed in the village cobbled streets during a Spanish holiday a couple of years ago, it dawned on me that the north-western Spaniards, much like the Scots, like any excuse for a party.
So, seated in Iberica Spanish tapas restaurant in Glasgow, as my partner pointed out the black-clothed bagpipes encased in a glass cabinet behind me, I wondered whether they were purely for decorative purposes or perhaps something more?
In fact, they are a reminder of the strong link between Galicia – translated as ‘the land of the Gaelic people’ – in north-west Spain and the Celts and I knew at some point that evening I would be entertained by a lively, detailed account of this strong Celtic connection.
That’s because Iberica restaurant prides itself on a unique tapas experience which celebrates its strong Celtic ties and the origins of its produce. This ranges from the location and grazing habits of the animals to the duration and method of the cheese maturity.
And do you know what – it made the whole experience a particularly authentic and memorable one!
If you consider La Tasca (now closed) at the lower end of the tapas scale and Cafe Andaluz at the middle reasonably priced end then Iberica is at the higher end of a special night where you can choose to be either dressy or dress down with a classy twist – we’re talking smart jeans with a kitten heel.
So perfect for Graduation celebrations with a stunning evening dress or a goth prom look.
The classy colonial-style décor with ebony wood basket weave chairs and fringe ceiling shades create an elegant feel to a restaurant which offers more than your average tapas. A delicatessen with a selection of cheeses and meat on display as well as a timeless-look to a classy bar promises that perfect after-dinner experience.
The attentive staff cater to your every whim and the extensive food selection makes most tapas restaurants ripened-tomato blush with shame at their limited offering.
Gone is, “Ooh, let’s try some of that Spanish Manchego” and in is a selection of artisan full-flavoured cheeses such as San Simon, Ibores Pimenton, Mahon, Torta de Trujillo, Manchego Artisan.
The San Simon cheese is deliciously creamy and smoky – is it greedy not to share? Mahon cheese from Menorca tastes similar to Manchego but with a little salty after-kick. Ibores Pimenton has a slightly sour (not a complaint!) milky goats cheese.
Of course no meal is savoured at its best without a fruity alcoholic drink. I first stole the word ‘moreish’ after watching Peep Show’s Superhans and it’s the best way to describe the Sangria with Cava. It’s deliciously refreshing with strawberries, mint, orange and of course some bubbly to make the whole evening a merrier experience. My partner’s Mahon draft beer was a revelation and then there’s the tapas……
The food certainly lives up to the menu’s description. We tried a selection of shared tapas which included coca mediterranea – roasted Med veg and Manchego cheese on toast, delicious warm pumpkin salad with goat’s cheese, lemon and thyme and orange dressing. I’m still salivating at the thought!
Andalusian-style fish & chips – not your deep fried version!! And the signature dish of ham croquettas made with serrano ham, chorizo lollipops with pear allioli and boquerones – anchovies to you and me.
Obviously there is a necessary minimum 20 minute break in between courses to really appreciate and savour every moment (and make some room – should have brought Joey Tribbiani’s elasticated joggies!) and then the piece de resistance – churros with chocolate. Just reminiscing about it makes me feel as gooey as the runny chocolate!
And for a night that never ends it’s time to enjoy the strongest link between north-west Spain and Scotland…fiesta-time!
Iberica, 140 St Vincent Street. Tapas prices range from £4 to £9.50, a small jug of Sangria with Cava £10, A pint of Mahon draft £5.
Review by Susie Daniels