Iberico World Tapas, Nottingham

The last time we ventured to these parts so bowled over were we with dinner at Iberico World Tapas that we cancelled the next day’s lunch plans and headed back here instead. ‘Triple cooked patatas bravas’ can have that effect.

And so a return trip to Nottingham was always going to revolve around a glass or two of Rioja in this stylish and acclaimed restaurant (Michelin Bib Gourmand – tick) off the main street in the Lace Market. There’s a touch of the Narnias as you descend the stairs from the grand old street into the hustle and bustle of the low-lit vault-like dining room. Love a bit of that.

Here’s a reminder that chorizo in red wine is a classic for a reason. There’s a proper bite of fiery paprika to the sausages and a tang to the sauce that stains the sourdough bread, and our fingers, blood-red.

We have pork belly with ‘sweet and sour shallots and migas’; the pork moist and rich, and we have ‘goats cheese stuffed piquillo peppers, spinach, hazlenut and honey’. It’s in these dishes where Iberico demonstrates that proper tapas can be elegant and refined, not just small plates  chucked out of an uncaring kitchen. Iberico want to feed you well.

To highlight that point the standout dish of the evening (and to beat the patatas bravas, it has to be good) is the ‘clams, oyster aioli, burnt cucumber and oyster leaf’. Somehow the kitchen manages to get cucumber to not just taste of something but to taste of something good. Paper thin strips of the stuff lightly charred, dotted with the infused aioli and scattered with juicy clams. Impressive work, chef.

(Despite our usual reluctance to don the camera, this dish deserved a photograph for prosperity’s sake).

We shared the ‘taste of something sweet’ dessert of which the best bits were the chewy honeycomb macaroon and the square slab of bakewell tart.

After we’d soldiered through a couple of bottles of Rioja and each had an unnecessary but well-suited dessert wine the bill came to about £95 including service. Excellent value for an evening of quality food in a quality place. If we hadn’t been as thirsty it’d have been a bargain.

A quick nod to the nearby Kean’s Head and Cock and Hoop pubs, too. Both have been the warm up act to Iberico’s headlining slot for us on recent visits but seem like the kind of places you could happily while away a boozy afternoon. City stalwarts with subtle charm.

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