MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – The Spinningfields area of Manchester city center was developed starting in the early 2000s, and is currently one of the main business, retail, and dining hubs of the city. The Avenue, running through the heart of Spinningfields is something of a gastronomic treasure, and there, on a prime corner sits Ibérica. It’s an authentic taste of Madrid, and from the moment guests enter the restaurant, they can feel themselves transported to the Spanish capital, with stylish interior design, and two impressive terraces - one on either side of the main entrance - bringing the atmosphere of Madrid’s famous terrace culture to Manchester.
A stunning glass façade and interior design elements such as Spanish silk shawls and a bull’s head over the large bar provide an impressive backdrop, while the mezzanine floor features additional seating and an open kitchen. The entire location oozes class, yet is welcoming and unpretentious, and the friendly staff provides knowledgeable menu suggestions and excellent service.
And the food? Oh the food… my mouth was watering from the moment I stepped inside and smelled the aromas of cooking. Ibérica’s guests enjoy a unique menu created by Executive Chef Nacho Manzano, who is the recipient of an impressive 3 Michelin stars. An extensive choice of tapas is the main attraction for anyone looking for a lighter meal, while a selection of main dishes offers a modern twist on traditional Spanish food. Freshly cooked paella is made with the highest quality ingredients from producers across Spain, and an Asturian cachopo is made with fried beef, Ibérico pork and Asturian cheeses.
Visiting at lunchtime, I concentrated on Ibérica’s tapas menu, and solicited suggestions from Harry, the friendly bartender who was taking care of me. I started off sampling the grilled prawns with mushroom in garlic, and the asparagus, manchego, onion confit and truffle oil toast. Both plates offered an array of delicious flavors; the prawns were fresh and succulent, with the garlic offering just the right level of pungency.
Next, following two recommendations, (although I’m not normally a fan of lamb) I proceeded to try the twice cooked lamb, with marinated cherry tomatoes and red peppers from El Bierzo. I was delighted with the suggestion; the lamb was juicy and soft, the tomatoes and peppers full of flavor.
A range of three Ibérico hams (Jamón Ibérico) is offered; all three are air-cured and produced from the Ibérico pig; a 100% pure bred, free range animal feeding mainly on Holm Oak acorns. I tried all three, and while all were mouthwateringly delicious, my favorite, I decided, was the EXTREM Puro Extremadura from Montanchez; a juicy and tender ham with hints of sweetness and acorn flavor.
Dessert choices include Spanish rice pudding, Churros, and other sweet delights; I was, sadly, too full to sample any on this occasion.
An extensive list of cocktails, wines, Sherries, sangria, Spanish brandies, beers and ciders is available, with Ibérica’s signature cocktails being enthusiastically prepared by the team of bartenders.
If you’re in a hurry, an Express Lunch, featuring the dish of the day and a choice of one tapa is available on weekdays in the daytime, while the full menu of tapas, meals and desserts is offered from open to close, seven days a week.
If you want to take Ibérica home with you, the delicatessen showcases an impressive range of Spanish products, including a collection of over twenty different olive oils, preserved fish and vegetables, turrones (traditional Iberian sweets) and one of the largest selections of Spanish cheese and cured meats available in the UK.
Ibérica is open seven days a week from 11.30am; Sunday to Thursday closing time is 11.00pm, while Friday and Saturday closing time depends on you.
If you’re heading to London, not Manchester, don’t despair – Ibérica has four locations (and a stunning Canary Wharf terrace) in London, offering a similar choice of items, and the same great Spanish atmosphere and service. Contact phone numbers, email addresses and online table reservations for each location are available on the website.
Menus change seasonally, and some of the items I sampled have temporarily been changed for new summer delights. Actually it’s a great excuse to visit Ibérica at different times of the year, to try the seasonal variations. I certainly can’t wait to return.
Stewart Mandy dined as a guest of Ibérica Spinningfields.
Article written: July 2015