I think it’s safe to say spring has definitely sprung. With all these warm spells gracing our existence it actually feels more like summer arrived as soon as the clocks went forward, but if that means we get to enjoy more sunshine than our usual two days then who am I to complain?
As it happens, it was a beautiful, bright, and blissful day when I headed into town for my evening reservation with Iberica; the atmosphere feeling more like a night abroad – the humid air, choir of chants and laughs, and the whiff of food drifting making me all the more excited to get tucked into our treats. I’ve visited the plush restaurant before and absolutely loved every part – from the ornate interior, to the authentic feel, and the unusual yet delicious dishes that tempted my taste-buds to jump out of their comfort zone. This time, however, it had a more personal touch, as I experienced a proper dinner date with one of my best girls.
Amazing company, super attentive service, a platter of yummy tomato bread and Spanish meats to kickstart our feast, a palatable bottle of Castillo Perelada Rosé Reserva NV that I actually enjoyed (I’m admittedly not the biggest wine lover), and possibly overly deep conversations to be having in public once the bottle was empty and the tipsiness was flowing!
What more could I have asked for?
We were able to pick any six tapas dishes to showcase the seasonal stars on their newly launched spring menu, followed by any desserts and coffees of our choice, and my belly was just as pleased as the content smile spread on my face. The smile soon turned to concentration upon deciding which courses to go for! We were pondering for a good 15 minutes as there were so many inviting concoctions that had my mouth watering just by reading the title, but eventually we settled on an assorted variety of meats, salads, and typical carby sides.
First up we opted for a firm favourite of mine and the signature dish, Croquetas. I raved about the crispy potato and ham goodness right away and thankfully Hannah trusted my verdict (and of course I was proved right so it was 1-0 me).
Secondly we went for the Warm Lentil Salad as a lighter dish that contrasted the rest of the piping hot and heavy dishes with the refreshing mix of textures; soft cooked egg and those healthy greens.
Thirdly, we went for Spring Vegetables, once again to balance the options out. The cauliflower, carrots, asparagus and tomatoes came with a topping of melted cheese which gave it that extra tasty tang, and they were sauteed just right – not too soft nor hard and with that firm, fried zest.
Fourthly, we simply savoured the Chorizo, thick cut, cooked in cider and topped with chickpeas. The rich sauce really gave it that punchy flavour and added to the smokiness of the meat. Chorizo is my absolute number one garnish – throw it on kebab skewers, in a chicken dish, with a shit load of cheese, and you have a winner. But it turns out it works just as well on its own!
Fifthly, was the Crispy Chicken, small pieces of confit thigh with romesco sauce and hazelnuts. These were finger-licking good – quite literally. Just the right amount of soft, melt in the mouth, meat with a crisp, chargrilled edge and a succulent base sauce. Hazelnuts are another beloved topping of mine so I much appreciated this added touch!
We definitely saved the best till last with the Albondigas. I’m not usually a meatball kind of girl but these – wow – these were out of this world. The mini potatoes and distinctive Vizcaina sauce blended within certainly upped the vibrancy but it was the quality of the meat that had me mumbling inhumane noises. You could instantly detect the tenderness and it had such a juicy, pungent taste – I was actually sad when it came to an end but Hannah kindly let me have the last one. True friendship.
The dishes all arrived separately straight from the kitchen as soon as they were cooked to perfection which meant I wasn’t able to snap the complete polished foodie flatlay I desired, but it was worth the loss with being able to enjoy and relish in the from-the-oven-freshness. I loved every single dish and the recipes really complimented the summer vibe (and I’m sure if we’d gone for others I’d say the exact same) but there were a couple that stood out! If there was a most delectable dish award, the chicken and the meatballs would be a definite tie!
I really underestimate tapas. As the plates arrive in small bits and bobs you tend to set the mindset that it won’t be enough to fulfil your appetite but every single time I end up full to the brim. I don’t think you’d even need as many as six to satisfy your stomach which makes the menu not only diverse but also great value.
There’s always enough room for dessert, however! Even if I have to sit back and unbutton my trousers, my eyes widen with the mention of afters. My sweet tooth was gagging for the Churros with melted chocolate sauce and they really didn’t disappoint – the portion was really generous and the gloriously warm, spongy, doughnut consistency was a pastry lovers dream. Han went for the Caramelised Rice Pudding and by the sensual reaction I’m guessing she very much relished in it. She said it was the best rice pudding she’s ever had in her lifetime and as she passed some over to me – as a non rice pudding expert – I can claim the sweetness was absolutely amazing.
Thank you so much to Jeanne for inviting me down to try out the menu! I had such a wonderful, relaxed evening to match the summery feel outdoors. Soaking up the luxury decor, spacious setting, and of course the most Instagramable toilets in Leeds – it was a fitting ending to a lovely day, and just what we both needed. I’ll definitely be back to make the most of these hot days!
Have you been lucky enough to experience the tapas at Iberica?
p.s. my stomach was rumbling just editing these photos, that’s when you know the food was faultless!