Food review: Iberica Canary Wharf
Iberica Canary Wharf
IN A NUTSHELL
Sharing and daring is the name of the game at Iberica Canary Wharf.
Eager Wharfers have been flocking to check out the Spanish restaurant to sample the traditional tapas and experimental combinations from head chef Cesar Garcia.
Given the success of Iberica's Great Portland Street site it was perhaps a no-brainer to extend the franchise out east, and judging from the fully-booked service on most days it's been a shrewd move.
The former Hackett clothing store has been transformed into a light and airy room in a makeover by Barcelona-based Lazaro Rosa Viola. An impressive display of wine bottles dominates one wall, while vintage giant menus adorn other surfaces.
There are mezzanine levels for more secluded dining, while a mounted bull's head gazes out across the bar in a nod to one of the more stereo-typed Spanish traditions.
Not that stereotyping is an issue at Iberica. Chef Garcia has stayed true to the ethos that made the Great Portland Street original such a success. Platters of tapas with a twist are ideal for diving into, with quality the key.
Afficionados of Iberico ham are spoilt by a choice of three equally tempting jamon, from Cordoba, Huelva and Salamanca respctively - each one with its own character. Have the best of all worlds with the trio of Ibericos (£22.20) to compare their subtleties. They are all very good.
Beetroot gazpacho (£4.90) is one of Garcia's signature dishes. Beautifully presented topped with a creamy knob of goat's cheese ice cream it also boasts slivers of anchovy fillet basking in its purply depths. Mix the ingredients together to enjoy the full impact of this light, refreshing soup.
Croquettas cheese and ham are a world away from the stodgy potato-filled things most Brits are used to. These are made with a roux before being lightly dusted with flour and deep fried. Creamily unctuous, they fall apart in the mouth - and on the way there if you aren't careful.
The Iberica burger (£7.90) looks unremarkable on first glance, but the twist here is it's made with secreto pork loin topped with a pickled Pipparas pepper. Small, perfectly formed and succulent. Equally good are pan fried scallops with cauliflower puree, escabeche, fennel and apple (£10.75).
Inevitably with tapas you can spend a lot more than you expect as you pick your way through the dishes. To really push the boat out have a crack at the milk-fed whole suckling pig roast for a minimum of four people (£199). Book it a day ahead.
If sharing isn't your thing trade up from tapas to raciones - bigger portions available for some dishes.
There's an extensive - and occasionally expensive - wine list exploring the vine varieties from Spain. Feeling flush? Then splash out on a bottle of Pingus Tempranillo 2008 at £1,115.
The wine custody service, where customers can bring their own wine to store in the restaurant's state-of-the-art store, will be operating in the New Year.
Iberica is a welcome addition to Canary Wharf and it should flourish here. There's not even any need to have a meal. If you crave a taste of Spain then you can pop in for a sherry and tapas at the bar.
Iberica Canary Wharf
12 Cabot Square