Iberico World Tapas is renowned in Nottingham (as well as in Derby) for being at the top of the tapas game and being particularly well suited to a special occasion. The vibe is ‘tapas-but-not-as-you-know-it’ as we see traditional Catalan tapas such as Iberico ham and patatas bravas balanced with more exotic dishes influenced by Asian cultures, French cuisine and more. The literal translation of tapas is ‘small portions,’ which allows Iberico poetic license to extend the offering well beyond the borders of Spain – .
To eat from the full menu at Iberico is a little pricey for us, so we eat from the great value Express Dining menu which is available Mon-Fri from 12pm – 2pm and 5.30pm – 6.45pm. For lunch, you get a choice of bread appetiser, two tapas dishes and a dessert for £12.95 (£14.95 in the evening).
The choice of bread is sourdough or Catalan tomato bread. The Catalan bread divides us completely, though. I adore it – to me, it is perfect. Gorgeous warm, charred toast topped with garlicky, herby tomato and flakes of sea salt. It’s to die for! But Stu is not a really a fan so opted for the sourdough, which came with the most flavourful, high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar you can imagine. Although the crust on the sourdough was far too hard and crunchy, both were a delightful start to the meal.
We always pick four tapas that we know we both like and share between us (it’s friendlier that way, and I get food envy far too easily). Today we chose:
- ‘Inside-out’ sweet chilli chicken wings (which they have now removed the supplement from! yay!)
- Mixed seafood salad with roasted onion
- Lime, salt and pepper squid
- Morcilla scotch egg
- Torrijas with goat’s milk ice cream and cherry
‘Inside-out’ sweet chilli chicken wingsThese little, Asian-inspired beauties are a firm favourite with us and we order them every time, no questions asked. We’re not sure entirely how they’re done, but the meat is pulled to the bottom of the bone to form a sort of chicken lollipop that is succulent and perfectly coated in a slightly spicy, sticky chilli sauce. We highly recommend these, you also get a decent amount of them (ten or twelve, maybe?). It will change the way you think about chicken wings!
Mixed seafood salad with roasted onionIf you love your seafood, you’ll love this dish! With a mixture of huge prawns, creamy mussels, octopus, calamari and roasted red onion, this couldn’t feel more Mediterranean. With a smoky paprika kick this dish is simple but always cooked to perfection so the seafood is never rubbery and beautifully tender. The prawns were a little fiddly and I am not entirely convinced on the texture of large pieces of octopus tentacles (the suckers! Oh my god!) but the dish was enjoyed thoroughly by both of us.
Lime, salt and pepper squidBad calamari is horrible; it’s tough, greasy and suspiciously fishy. Done right however, it tastes exactly how Iberico present it. The calamari rings are soft and juicy and you get a few tentacle pieces too which mixes up the texture (not for everyone I know, but we like them!) The lime zest, salt and pepper seasoning works perfectly on the light batter and the aioli (garlic mayo) dip is a great accompaniment. From the flavour, we think the black discs were seaweed crisps but we can’t be 100%.
Not for the faint-hearted, this little scotch egg is veeeeery rich. Morcilla is a Spanish blood sausage similar to black pudding, so you can imagine the intense meaty flavour of the coating. Nestled around a gooey quails egg and served with a broad bean dip, this was a nice end to our savoury course, though we were expecting to be blown away a little more. The sausage was a little mushy so fell apart and the quails egg was too small, meaning the ratio of egg to sausage and breadcrumbs was off. A small hen’s egg would have been better for us.
Unfortunately, the wait staff informed us our first egg had split in the pan so apologised that we would have to wait for another. Although we didn’t mind, this meant we had to eat the scotch egg on its own a good five minutes after we had finished the rest of our tapas, which was a shame.
Torrijas with goat’s milk ice cream and cherryThis dessert was one of the highlights for both of us. Iberico do their puddings so well and they never feel like an afterthought or lacking in as much effort as the main courses – a trap that some restaurants can fall into. They are always desserts or flavour combinations that I have never tried before and we’ve always loved what we’ve tried.
Torrijas is, essentially, Spanish eggy bread and it is amazing! With sugar and a tiny hint of cinnamon, the crunchy, caramelised outside gives way to a soft centre that’s slightly firmer than a British bread and butter pudding. With the goat’s milk ice cream and the tartness of the cherry, this was an absolute pleasure – I could have eaten it twice more. It really felt like a comfort food pudding elevated to refinement with a perfect balance of flavours. Our only criticism is that we couldn’t really tell that the ice cream was made with goat’s milk, it just tasted like a smooth, creamy vanilla ice cream with only a slight hint.
The second pudding option of almond meringue with passion fruit and dark chocolate also sounded delectable, as well as the churros (cinnamon-sugar donuts) and chocolate sauce which is a favourite with the regulars (£2 supplement).
Overall, this was a fantastic meal at one of Nottingham’s finest restaurants that should absolutely be on your list of places to visit – especially if you like tapas. The personal highlights for us, this time, were the chicken wings, the beautifully fresh seafood salad and the dessert. The Express Dining offer makes it incredibly good value for the quality of the food you receive and you won’t leave hungry. The service is always very, very good to boot. We will be excited to check out their new venture on Hockley, Bar Iberico, that opens in August 2016 which they are presenting as a more relaxed, cheaper alternative to the more formal Iberico.
Overall score: 9/10
Atmosphere and surroundings: 8/10
The bill came to around £30 for two meals from the Express Dining lunch menu, tap water and discretionary tip.
Emily and Stuart