Iberica Food & Culture
195 Great Portland Street
Date of Last Visit: Friday, September 4, 2009
The Victim: Natalie
The Damage: Golly I forget. I think it was about 50 euros each?
The Background: I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned Natalie before. But even if I have, let me tell you the story again because it’s a good one. A few years back, I was at my friend Richard’s house for a party. And Richard’s friend Claudine was there. I’ve met Claudine before. Many times. Many, many times.
And Claudine is that type of person that NEVER remembers that you’ve met before. Not even a vague, “I’m sorry, I know we’ve met but I can’t remember your name.” Claudine just flat out has no idea who you are.
This annoys me.
Or at least, it used to annoy me until that fateful day at Richard’s when I was sitting there on the couch, minding my own business, where in walks Claudine. I think “Great. Here we go again. She’s going to have no freaking idea who I am. Again.” Luckily, she starts chatting to the girls on the sofa across from me first. She introduces herself. And before she can even finish, one of them says, “Yes, I know who you are Claudine. You introduce yourself to me all the time. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve met and you never remember my name. I’m Natalie.”
Claudine didn’t have much to say and just walked off.
I immediately introduced myself to Natalie and pronounced myself her greatest fan.
The Entrance: A week earlier, while I’d been waiting for my flight to Brittany, I’d called and made a booking at Iberica. I enter on Friday evening and they HAVE NO RECORD of my booking. This annoys me, because I can assure you…I made a booking. How do restaurants lose reservations? Someone please explain.
It’s fine though. They still have space. Upstairs. Which I accept as fine. And it is fine. We have a server practically to ourselves. He admits he’s married and then promptly falls in love with Natalie. Frankly, this is sweet at first and then I start to feel like chopped liver. Flirtatious servers need to learn to spread the love.
The Food: We order many things. Firstly, the trio of ham. (Tragically, Natalie’s flirtatious server can’t remember which ham is which. But we think the serrano is in the middle.) We decide we like the one on the left. The ham croquetas arrive shortly afterwards. (Crispy on the outside. Very creamy on the inside. Almost too creamy.)
The artichokes and pear with alioli were a last minute addition to the order, after our first few vegetable choices were either not available or not enthusiastically recommended by Cassanova. This dish turns out to be the big surprise of the night: no one mentioned they’d be deep-fried, but the artichokes are absolutely positively one of the best things I’ve even lately.
Asparagus with some sort of red pepper alioli is the sole bit of green on the table. We also get some squid with–wait for it–alioli. There’s a lot of alioli at Iberica. Or at least, it seems that way given the dishes we’ve ordered. Luckily, I’ve brought mints.
As our final order, we go for our server’s recommendation of the cuttlefish in black rice. I’ve had this dish in Madrid, and truth be told, it’s not my favorite. It’s too rich and too monotonous. But he is so heartily recommending it, we go for it. (We have a moment of panic when they mistakenly deliver two dishes but quickly right their wrong.) I was right to hesitate…this dish is way too rich and dense and creamy in all the wrong ways.
Other Things: There was a fly in my cava. A small one, but a fly nonetheless. Also, after dinner, we headed back down to the ground floor to use the loos, and the ground floor is just so much more fun. If they hadn’t had lost my booking, we probably could have sat down here.
The Verdict: I’m really annoyed about the lost booking. And I wish our server had lold ME that I have beautiful eyes. (Not to be conceited or anything, but I do think I have nice eyes.) I would go back here for the artichokes. And the atmosphere on the ground floor. Don’t get talked into the black rice.