Authentic has been bandied about by marketing folk for a while as a buzzword for describing, well pretty much anything really.
Don't get me started on the linguistic overuse of the artisan. Coffee, bread, beer, you name it someone has artisan’d it.
But used appropriately they define all that is good in the world, especially when discussing restaurants. Authenticity for casual dining is all about respectfulness to traditional dishes, sourcing quality local ingredients of the highest standards, it is about transporting you from dreich and dreary Scotland to a different world entirely, Iberica places us firmly in Asturias and plays up all the celtic connections that go with it.
So how about Artisan?
Am I going to tell you that there are hand-carved hams, yup, rare cheeses, oh yes, exclusively imported Spanish wines, Si !
Turns out that Authentic, Artisan and Iberica go together like Tio Pepe and Jamon Iberico, Manchego and olives or Xavi and Iniesta.
Inside a wonderfully bespoke interior makes Iberica a lovely place to be, subtle and not so subtle design features sit alongside the buildings original leaded glass windows and steel columns (it may be iron, dammit Jim I'm a food blogger not a metallurgist.) There are all sorts of comfy chairs and secluded and not so secluded tables, along with a private dining area and some high tables and stools near the bar if you just fancy a drink. A very pleasant and welcoming environment for dinner or lunch time visiting.
Segueing into lunch perfectly, it is worth mentioning the deli and bocadillos (light sandwich) options that will certainly mean Iberica will draw a pretty decent trade for folk looking for their almuerzo.
After eating our own body weight in Spanish ham and cheese, with the odd mussel thrown in for good measure, we started on the meal proper.
Almost every dish espouses a classic Spanish ideology. High quality ingredients are cooked to maximise their natural flavours, not mask them. Iberica is not a place for freeze dried essence of dragon milk ice cream, or a froth of glazed and pureed unicorn tears, despite the masses of Michelin-stars that executive chef Nacho Manzano has to his name, for Iberica he keeps things simple.
Pumpkin salad is probably the closest thing to faffing about with food the menu gets . Like a Kandinsky painting, cubes of the sweet orange vegetable sit alongside circles of goats cheese, a punchy orange dressing and pine nuts bringing a host of flavours and textures to the party. The Aubergine is another belter, cooked with honey, to make a super sweet dish, more pine nuts adding some well needed texture, are sprinkled on top.
Peas with ham is as simple as it sounds, a bowl of sweet green marbles punctuated with pieces of salty serrano ham, pop some fruity tomatoes as a base and a poached egg to coat everything in yolky richness. The Octopus a la Gallega was beautiful, chargrilled flavour, a creamy sauce and a bed of crushed potatoes can seafood be served any more sympathetically. Well actually yes, it can! the fresh mackerel with a drizzle of parsley and seaweed sauce was the very essence of classic cookery.
Likewise the meat options were exceptional cuts of beautifully reared pork and beef, simply cooked, seasoned and put on the plate, nothing else required.
How we managed to contemplate desserts after all that I don't know, but contemplate and indeed eat some we did. (One of the many hardships of food writing - eating more than you should so I can tell you folk all about it, it's a public service and so selfless of me, I know) The caramelised rice pudding is a combination of creamy soft sweetness underneath a creme brulee-esque layer of crunchy sweetness, it was delightful. The torrija is for me a Spanish take on the classic bread and butter pudding, although brioche and cream makes this far richer so a decent vanilla ice cream is most welcome to lighten things back up. The Gloria cheesecake was glorious (see what I did there) and with shavings of parmesan and strawberries on reinforcing the sweet and creamy flavours.
Iberica is a positive addition to the Glasgow restaurant scene, a welcoming environment with friendly knowledgeable staff. Classic Spanish dishes made from the finest imported ingredients with an emphasis on quality whilst remaining affordable. If I could describe Iberica in one word, what would it be?
Barney and I were invited to a sneak peak of Iberica with their compliments, but the thoughts remain very much ours.