Tio Pepe and Tapas at Iberica, Great Portland Street, London Add/Read Comments
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At just £3.50 down at Iberica (195 Great Portland Street, London) it was also fantastic value. Perfectly judge crunch to the top, a judicious sprinkling of cinnamon and served just a little warm. Perfect.
The pud completed a light lunch ostensibly to sample Iberica's new Expressions Menu. The aim is to offer a mini 'desgustacion' menu of pinchos that can be "
enjoyed exclusively during lunch hours (12-3pm) Monday to Saturday, the Expressions menu highlights the cutting edge approach to tapas for which head chef Santiago Guerrero is fast becoming known in London's gastronomic circles."
The Expressions menu, served at Iberica's impressive 15 metre bar, comprises eight delicious pinchos delivered within 10 - 15 minutes of being ordered. The mix of hot and cold pinchos are presented on a single serving slate and are to be eaten from left to right. They are also served with a 100ml glass of Tio Pepe sherry. As the chef enthused the menu will change with the seasons, every month in fact, to reflect the freshest ingredients available.
Of the selection the ham croquettes were equally historic (so we ordered a further plate) with only the additional bean stew with black pudding being a little disappointing (the beans lacked a little bite and the black pudding was of miniscule proportions).
Not all the pinchos matched the Tio Pepe. The opening Cherry Gazpacho with arbequina olive oil was a particularily clashing match but the mix of ingredients - especially those difficult to match with wine - generally played well with the sherry.
The wine list offers 7 reds and 6 whites by the glass. The Adras 2004 from Bierzo, Vinos de la Tierra Castilla y Leon (£5.75 a glass/£24 a bottle) was a particularily succesful choice. A full and spicy Tempranillo with just enough structure and bite to offset the soft, rounded, berry-led palate to be a super little food wine. The Beronia Reserva 2005 from Rioja (£7/£29.75) was drier, more structured and would benefit from more meaty, hearty, dishes from the main menu.
There are four sherries available by the glass. In addition to the Tio Pepe (£4) Iberica offer a Palo Cortado Apostoles (£7), a Dry Amontillado, Del Duque (£8) and two sweet versions Matusalen, Oloroso Dulce (£8) and Noe Pedro Ximenez (£7.50). The wine list offers 2 rosés. 2 sparkling wines and 31 reds ranging from the basic Gonzlez Byass Altozano 2006 Tempranillo-Shiraz at £15.50 a bottle up to the extravagance of Arte Miro Reserva, 2001, Rioja at £92.50. Of the 13 whites the bins range in price from a Muscat/Sauvignon Blanc blend, Carla 2008, Catalunya (£18.75) up to an interesting white Grenache, Mar d'Avall, 2008, from the Costa Brava (£33).
While the Expressions menu and (another additional) plate of mixed hams were superb it is that rice pudding that really sticks in the memory; and that's from one who adores tapas. Actually those ham croquettes were also bloody fine too.
The Expressions Menu costs £16 per person and currently offers:
- "Copita" of Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
- Cherry Gazpacho with arbequina olive oil
- Air cured beef cecina ham with almond vinaigrette
- Fresh Cured Anchovies with peppers and onion 'pipirana'
- Pan fried monkfish 'Pixin'
- Iberica ham croquettes
- Chorizo lollypop
- Artichoke with pear aioli
- Grilled Iberica Pork loin 'Presa' with mojo rojo
More photographs of Iberica are available on SpittoonExtra.