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|Address:||195 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5PS|
|Tel:||020 3589 2109|
|Price: £46.00||Wine: £15.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 11.30am-11.30pm Sun 12N-4pm|
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London diners in search of top-quality tapas are arguably spoilt for choice, but a journey to Iberica (somewhat euphemistically referred to as being located in Marylebone, but in fact at the unfashionable Euston Road end of Great Portland Street) is well worth it. The restaurant scored on all counts: lovely atmosphere and service, tasty and innovative tapas and reasonable pricing. It is always a reassuring pleasure to be greeted and served by bona fide Spanish staff in a London tapas place, and the authentic Spanish feel to the place throughout. There are no bad tables: my comrade and I were located on the ground floor by the window, able to view not only passing street traffic, but also the buzzing interior, bedecked by subtle blue tiling and hanging Spanish hams. There is also an upper level balcony and towards the back, a more intimate area where diners are surrounded by the restaurant’s produce (also available to purchase). A crisp and mouth-whetting, appetite-inducing dry sherry was just the way to begin, balanced perfectly with some olives. The tapas menu comprised the traditional categories (salads & vegetables, eggs & croquettes, fish and meat), but had been given a wonderfully modern twist by Nacho Manzano (of Michelin-starred fame from Casa Marcial). While not the stand-out dish from a taste perspective, a good example of his modern take on a more conventional offering would be the fried chorizo lollipops with pear and alioli sauce. We particularly rated the black rice with cuttlefish, prawns and alioli sauce as well as the asparagus toast with Machego, onion confit and truffle oil. With each offering priced at c£5, and five being sufficient for two of us (along with bread and olives), this definitely constitutes a competitive offering. Another positive was the wine list, extensive, fairly priced and with a decent range from less fashionable Spanish regions (think Bierzo rather than Rioja for example). We highly rated our Albarino, not actually listed on the menu, but recommended by our attentive and engaged server. Hazelnut liqueur on the house was a nice finishing touch and indicative of Iberica’s approach, although one sip was probably sufficient…