Iberica, Leeds

As Greek Street continues to rise from the dust, Iberica joins the flurry of new restaurants in the surrounding area that have given foodies a reason to get excited. I love tapas, and I’d been hoping to try this place ever since it opened at the beginning of the year, but just hadn’t had the excuse. A couple of very meaningful things to celebrate, a cheaper-than-expected September and a free Saturday night meant we could finally tick it off the list.

We were given the option of grabbing a drink in the bar before we were shown to our table, which was an instant positive given we had (shamelessly!) eaten a late lunch in town not too long ago. The gin list is impressive, all paired with a bunch of botanicals, from which I probably recognised 3 out of 13 options (note: must be more clued up on gins if I am going to blog). The cocktail menu, which was surprisingly cheaper than the G&Ts, also looked strong and I have to go back and try the “Wild Thyme”.

The main dining room is an absolute treat for the eyes! I can’t think of a time that I have sat down for a meal, and spent the first five minutes looking at the interior instead of the menu, but that has to be done here. The decor is full of charm and bought to life by high ceilings and ambient lighting. It’s rare to see a restaurant serve in one open rectangular room with no division of space, but this layout works perfectly. Without knowing how the auction house looked beforehand, I can imagine the transformation has been remarkable. And expensive – you don’t get the impression that this was done on the cheap, especially after you see the bathroom, which features on almost every review you read.

And the food is equally spectacular. Having just returned from Croatia, we were craving a board of cured meats and cheese, and opted for the Half & Half selection which was perfect for two people before diving into the tapas. It was recommended to us that we had this with Toasted Bread with Tomato.  While the meat and cheese was delicious and a great way to start the meal, I wouldn’t order the bread again, which was more like a sparingly topped bruschetta than a bread to eat meats with. But still delicious nonetheless.

On to tapas…we went for: mixed ham and cheese croquettes; fried chorizo lollipops; fried fresh squid with alioli; sliced cooked beef with dressing and garlic prawns and pasta.

The garlic prawns and pasta was fantastic, particularly because it had a bit of a spice kick to it, but others might find it a bit too greasy. This was closely followed by the squid, which was potentially the best squid I’d ever had (sorry Croatia!), and the chorizo! The signature croquettes had a lot to live up to, and unfortunately they didn’t make the podium. They reminded me of those frozen crispy pancakes you got served at school when they had run out of turkey twizlers. While the beef was nice, it will probably get subbed to the bench next time I visit and replaced with the mini secreto pork burgers or the pork belly steamed buns which looked delicious.

All in all, the Iberica experience is amazing. It’s a fantastic place to go for a treat. You will be in awe over the setting that you’re eating dinner, or the number of mirrors that look at you as you freshen up in the bathroom, or the squid that they put on your plate. Till next time.


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