Iberico World Tapas in the Lace Market is one of our favourite restaurants, so ever since we clocked the whitewashed windows and the ‘Bar Iberico coming soon’ posters in Hockley, we’ve been impatiently waiting for it to open. YAY! A BAR! We had but three burning questions:
- How will it be different?
- Will it be as good as the Iberico we know and love?
- Will we want to come back?
We were invited to the opening event. If anyone remembers Pilot (chicken and prosecco – weird) and the Pico/3c’z collab that previously occupied this space you would be taken a back by the unrecognisable refurb. The new place looks inviting, with the standard exposed brick and pipework and high wooden tables and benches that we’ve come to expect from literally any new restaurant these days.
From their social marketing so far, we knew this was going to be a rather food-focussed bar, but the first thing we thought when we walked in was…where’s all the drinks?! This is a bar, right?! There are three pumps, one for Estrella, one for a strong IPA and one for cider. One lager on draught?! I can’t see the Hockley crowd being impressed by that. There was also nothing by the way of a cocktail or wine list to peruse, though I was assured by the staff that a short cocktail menu and list of wine and sherries will be available.
Onto what seems to be the main focus of the bar: the relaxed, accessible tapas dishes. We’ve come to enjoy the different and unexpected from Iberico’s restaurant, but the Bar Iberico menu seems less experimental and more straightforward with less fuss. You can tell they take their inspiration from bar snacks, with the food being designed to go well with a few beers or a cheeky G&T. Some of the dishes we sampled:
The stars of the show were the crispy chicken bites in the spicy Jerez sauce and the beef short rib skewers with mojo verde – the flavours and ingredients were just fantastic and we could sit and eat them all night with a steady flow of beer. They cook their skewers on a Josper grill which basically means they taste like the best barbecue ever.
The empanadas are like a fancy Gregg’s; good after a few drinks, hot, cheesy and tasty but not exactly refined!
Worth a mention are the cheeses which are bought in from the amazing Delilah Fine Foods in the City Centre. Delilah know how to get the good stuff – there must be some kind of underground cheese black market where only they can get the best of the best cheesy goodness, then they have to share it with the rest of the city. The blue cheese with walnut cake was strong and delicious.
Overall, we think Iberico are on to a good thing here and time will tell – it definitely felt like the focus is still on food. We can see this as a popular date or after work drinks spot, with the casual vibes still maintaining a sophisticated edge.
The answer to our questions?
- Bar Iberico is a much more relaxed, casual bar environment than Iberico World Tapas (but with a seemingly limited bar!) The focus definitely seems to still be on great tapas, just more of the dishes are ‘crowd-pleasers.’
- The quality of the food is, of course, right up there with the restaurant we adore though it is a little safer. If anglo-tapas is your thing, the menu will be right up your street. We’re not sure about the pricing as some of the dishes seem a little dear but we’re not sure how much you get per serving. I doubt this will be a cheap bite to eat.
- Yes, we will be back! FO SHO!! We’re really looking forward to doing a full review of Bar Iberico where we can see how they run on a standard evening and factor in service, value, ambiance etc. See you again soon, Bar Iberico!
Emily and Stuart