In November we were invited to try out some of the tapas dishes at Ibérica in Glasgow’s city centre. Although Ibérica have a total of seven other restaurants across the UK, the Glasgow restaurant is the only outside of England. Set in an old Royal Bank of Scotland building on the corner of Hope Street and St Vincent Street, this centrally located restaurant has all the architectural luxury of mercantile Glasgow while the interiors have been transformed into a formal dining experience with bursts of colours and nods to Spanish design.
During the day the restaurant is flooded with light, accentuating the huge space it occupies. If I could think of a word to describe the decor it would definitely be plush. The deep browns of the wooden tables and floors are softened and brightened with leather and brocade seating areas, fringe lighting and a modern tiled bar. The main dining area is a large space, with plenty of space between tables giving you both the buzz of the restaurant as well a sense of intimacy. For private functions it is also possible to rent out the restaurant space or a private dining room, more information on which can be found on the website.
The menu for each of the restaurant differs, however for the Glasgow restaurant the menu consists of three paella dishes and then an extensive choice of tapas. There are cold dishes such as cured meats and cheese boards, meat and fish options and plenty of vegetable options. Tapas style dining is my favourite mainly because it means it gives diners the ability to try thing outwith their comfort zone without breaking the bank. We opted for three tapas dishes each as well as one dessert from the Main Menu, although there are Lunch Menu options available between Mondays and Fridays from 11.30am and 5pm.
For wine lovers, there is a dedicated Wine List for the restaurant that features wines from boutique wineries that are exclusive to Ibérica restaurants in the United Kingdom. With our dinner we shared a bottle of Viura Rioja by Zurbal (£23):
- Cured Meat Selection (£7) – This charcuterie board comes with a tasting of four cured meats; chorizo, lomo, fuet and cecina. This is a perfect option for those who enjoy cured meats as well as those who are interested in sampling them. The dish is large enough to share with a friend but small enough to leave room for other dishes.
- Torta de Trujillo (£9) – Although this is the most expensive option on the artisan cheese section on the menu, it did come highly recommended. It is a soft, creamy sheep cheese with a firmer rind. Its consistency was akin to Camembert and Brie but the taste was entirely different – slightly briny with hints of bitterness.
- Bread with Olive Oil (£3) – I highly recommend ordering a bread dish if you are ordering any of the cured meat or cheese platters. It’s a perfect way of breaking up the tapas, and is a good way of filling yourself up if you’re opting for the less filling options.
- Fried Chorizo Lollipops (£5) – I love chorizo, but this dish was not for me. I felt that the batter to meat ratio was way off, and they were slightly greasy. The meat was delicious, but I just felt there was too much of it inside the batter and that the batter could have been dried off a little bit more than it was.
- Manzanilla Olives (£2.50) – These huge olives have a firm and meaty texture. They have a briny, bitter taste with hints of almond. The size of dish is great value for money, especially in comparison to other restaurants in Glasgow.
- Chicken Liver Pâté (£4) – The presentation of this dish was beautiful, with the paté served in a Kilner jar. The smooth paté was complemented with lightly grilled bread. It was rich without being overpowering and the serving was incredibly generous – almost too much for the bread served alongside it, which is another great reason to order the bread and oil on the side. One of the nicest paté dishes I’ve ever eaten out.
- Ibérica Burgers (£7) – These bite size pork sliders were one of the more fun options on the menu. There was a decent amount of meat on them, and they were topped with pickled Piparra peppers. Served alongside them were two large hand cut chips and a delicious bowl of balsamic vinegar and mustard dressing.
- Gavin’s Garlic Prawns (£8.50) – These prawns come tossed in a beautiful, buttery garlic sauce that is perfect for dipping bread into. The prawns themselves were small but there were many of them in the dish. If I was to order them again I would request the prawns be tossed in a frying pan for a few minutes before serving to create an even better taste and texture.
- Mussels Spanish-Style (£6) – This huge serving of mussels are served in a vermouth sauce is great value for money. The steamed mussels were cooked in tomatoes, smoked paprika and hot paprika giving them a rich, punchy flavour.
The menus at Ibérica change often, and the ones we opted for during our visit are no longer on the menu. However if you wish to see an up to date version of their dessert menu, you can see it here on there website.
To conclude, Ibérica was a beautiful decorated restaurant with a full and inclusive menu. One of the great thing about tapas restaurants is that you are able to determine just how much you spend. The freedom to experiment with new dishes as well as ones you are familiar with is fantastic, and that you can have eight dishes for what you would pay for two in other restaurants is great. It is difficult to get tired of dishes when eating them tapas style, which is why I enjoy eating them so much. I absolutely recommend Ibérica not only for those visiting Glasgow but for us who already live here.
140 St Vincent St, Glasgow G2 5LA.