It’s almost summertime in the city, and that means a few things… longer afternoons, louder music and quite frankly, lots of al fresco dining. Strolling through Manchester on a balmy evening, you’d be forgiven for finding yourself transported to a hazy holiday memory, driven by the various cuisine aromas that drift through open restaurant windows and out into the warm, city streets.
Trace that thought and follow it through to Spinningfields, a destination celebrated for its medley of bars and gastronomies from around the world – and if it’s a taste of Spain you’re after, look no further than the beautiful Ibérica.
With interiors designed by Spanish architect Lázaro Rosa Violán, Ibérica is a light and airy treasure trove of Hispanic artefacts, adorned with Andalucían tiles, bohemian mirrors and leafy palms. With a stunning bar area, two spacious floors of dining and two outdoor terraces (open all year round), the restaurant reflects Spanish sass and class.
From traditional mains such as Valencian Paella, to their signature pork platters, Ibérica has something to offer for everyone - not to mention the speciality list of refreshing gins, punchy sangrias and an extensive array of wines from various Spanish provinces and small boutique wineries.
One of life’s greatest simple pleasures, grazing leisurely on tapas is up there with people watching and making friends with a really good dog on the commute to work. You just can’t beat an icy sangria (or 3) accompanied with rounds and rounds of endless tasty snacks. Which is exactly how it felt to try the new Spring menu at Ibérica.
Selecting drinks was easy, opting for a ShinDigger Pale Ale with a summery, citrus flavour, and a good old jug of fruity sangria to last the evening, made with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon red wines, fresh orange, lemon juice and a touch of cinnamon.
Browsing the selection of tapas, however, was not so easy. Overwhelmed with choice, we narrowed our first flood of entres down to a portion of Patatas Bravas, (a traditional dish of potatoes served with brava, a rich, spicy tomato sauce and alioli, a creamy Mediterranean sauce made of garlic and olive oil) coupled with fresh, juicy prawn Gambas, (served in a clear garlic sauce and seasoned with a hint of cayenne pepper) and perfectly cooked Calamares (fried baby squid, served with fresh alioli).
The next round of tapas was where Ibérica really came into its own. With a freshly stocked table of delicious looking dishes, we dived into our Vermouth Mussels (a very pretty dish, submersed in a sweet, white vermouth sauce with leek and onion, served with toast for soaking up any precious leftover flavour), Spring Vegetables (sautéed seasonal vegetables, cooked al dente and topped with delectably melted Idiazábal cheese) and finally, Twice Cooked Lamb (honestly, with zero bias, the meat fell to succulent pieces and was possibly the best lamb ever experienced, served with marinated cherry tomatoes and red peppers from León).
There was no way on earth we could conclude a tapas feast without sharing at least one round of Ibérica’s Churros, and we did right, because these were to die for. Light and doughy - but crisp to the bite and topped with a dusting of sugar and cinnamon, this Spanish street classic was served with a cup of thick, rich, melted chocolate, which we would have dipped anything in. To finish (for real, this time), we ended the evening with a Trio of Cheeses, including Manchego, La Peral & Ibores, served with with quince & apple.
To say that the evening was divine would be an understatement. Social, relaxed and welcoming, take a quick glance around Iberica and you’ll just as likely spy a young pair of friends catching up to your left, as you’ll spot an older fella enjoying a good book and some fine wine to your right - either way, both tables will have an array of tantalising tapas dishes sprawled across them.
The Avenue Manchester M3 3HF
+44 (0) 161 358 1350