IBERICA - ROUGH RACIONES IN FITZROVIA
The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride. One moment things are all ticketyboo and the outlook optimistic and the next it’s all brought down to earth with a nasty bump. Yes, eating out in London really is a risky business. Still it’s what DH do and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of my highlights recently was a rather lovely lunch at new Spanish restaurant Tierra Brindisa in Soho. I remarked then that there was some sort of critical mass of tapas bars developing in W1 that would make a crawl (almost) possible. Now just North of Oxford Street in Fitzrovia another joint has opened.
Iberica is promising to be more than a tapas bar though, more a sort of showcase of Spanish culture and food. The food shop seems to be up and running and according to the blurb a restaurant is opening soon.
The tapas bar in London has been raised several notches over the past year and we’re now seeing a combination of great ingredients allied to excellent technique. We still lack the sheer variety of animal parts (where are the bull’s testicles ?) and the seafood selection is usually pretty prosaic. The prices can be stiff too but overall it’s a great improvement over many of the old school places.
How disappointing then that Iberica is a big step backwards into the grim past. It’s not so much the ordinary menu – even plain sounding dishes can be wonderful – but the preparation was just, well, not very good.
Croquetas, expensive at £6, were overcooked on the outside. The inside was creamy but sort of sickly – these were far inferior to the ones I’d had at Brindisa. The topping for the Pinchos, some Squid and Morcilla was ok but the bread was inedible, cheap and nasty. Jamón from Guijuelo was cut ok apart from some dried bits, but it didn’t have that velvety texture and deep nutty flavour of the best. Unjustifiably overpriced as well.
Pescadito Frito was a travesty of a dish that the Andalucians call their own. It was really just some Whitebait which hadn’t been fried properly. The taste of oil stayed with me way longer than was strictly necessary. Pulpo hadn’t been messed around with too much and was consequently edible.
A dispiriting experience was made worse by service that was all over the place – the waiters seemed more interested in chatting with their amigos – and long waits for the food and the bill.
To be honest when we go on one of our Iberian adventures we do come across similar bars with similar cooking. The difference is that they’re not that many of them (the competition means they wouldn’t last long), the cost is usually a lot less and we only stay for one dish. “Harmless” is how we usually describe such an experience. At the prices here though, Iberica is anything but.
Oh, and before anybody starts whining about me having visited too soon, Iberica has been open for about two weeks and it’s still duff (and I don’t mean the beer). So there.