Monday, 23 May 2016

Quique Dacosta at Iberica, Manchester.

As an observer, the manic energy of a kitchen performing at full strength is insane. Even though I'm pretty tall (and wide), I might as well be invisible as long as I don't get in anyone's way that is. Such is the intensity of concentration which I try to capture in the images of the chefs in the Ibérica kitchen below. After months of planning, the Nacho Manzano and Quique Dacosta collaboration here in Manchester is finally upon us.
Both of these heavyweight chefs (with seven Michelin stars between them) are working on the stoves too along with Ibérica head chef César García.

As you might imagine, Ibérica really pulled out the stops in the kitchen, some chefs are over from Quique Dacosta's eponymous three Michelin star restaurant in Denia. (See our upcoming review soon). Quite how they send all the food out at once amazes me. But of course they do, these are the best in the business.
When it was just a vague idea I had, it didn't seem real, just something that would happen sometime in the future, now it's real all right. There are so many people here, customers and staff. The room is buzzing.
I return to our table as the food starts coming out. We begin with Crushed Tomatoes (from Quique Dacosta). So beautifully simple, a very fine thin delicate tomato cracker, I have no idea how they make these.
Next up Sea urchin, served with cream, aromatic spices and yoghurt (from Casa Marcial, Nacho Manzano). These are cooked rather than served raw, how they'd usually be prepared. Perhaps they weren't sure how people would take to these. We love them, in fact this one is one of our favourites of the night. It's served at the same time as the Lemon Fish (from Vuelve Carolina, Quique Dacosta) served in actual lemons prepared by Quique himself.

We continue with Soft Shell Crab (from Casa Marcial, Nacho Manzano) and Hake Salad with hollandaise sauce and dried eggs (from Gloria, Nacho Manzano).
We all adore both of these dishes from Nacho. The latter, Nacho's take on a 'humble' plate of food that many Spaniards eat for lunch. What I love about this dish and much of Spanish cuisine at every level, is that it's not in the least big pretentious, it's just simply good, very good. Dishes that were high end a year or two back are often converted into tapas dishes, as chefs like Quique, Nacho, Albert Adrià, Paco Roncero and Ricard Camarena serve them in their more humble bistros. This combination of innovation in a casual tapas setting is what Nacho & Friends is all about and is why I feel Spain is one of the best countries in the world in which to eat well.
Red berries Gazpacho with prawns (from Mercatbar, Quique Dacosta). This wonderful fresh dish is now available on the normal Ibérica menu (from the 23rd May). I'd visit just for this at lunchtime.
Ashes rice (from El Poblet, Quique Dacosta). When asked which our favourites of the night are, we pretty much list the whole menu, but this rice course (inspired by burning rice fields I think) is up there, utterly luxurious and divine in chewy texture and intense flavour.
Roasted Apple with rosemary cream and cloud of cider (from La Salgar, Nacho Manzano). It was too dark at this point to take any decent photos and my brain was much too cloudy from the generous levels of alcohol taken.
We sampled some lovely wines from Bodegas Mustiguillo in Valencia.
(Photo above shot by my friend Karen). 
White MESTIZAJE BLANCO 2015, Merseguera, Viognier & Malvasia.
Red FINCA CALVESTRA 2014, Merseguera 100%
Red FINCA TERRERAZO 2012, Bobal 100%

Also some cider and sherry - incredible value for £60 including wines. 
Not only is the food some of the very finest we've ever seen in Manchester but the service is superb (some front of house are from Quique Dacosta's restaurant including the restaurant manager Didier). So we were looking at Michelin star tapas and service too.
The event was indeed a huge success which means there will be more to come and that Manchester really is ready for this style of food now.

More photos in high res here.


  1. Definitely one of the best meals I've ever had. And ridiculously good value. I was at Manchester House a few days prior and this really was on another level. Every dish was a highlight but that rice was so intense I couldn't finish it. Thanks so much for making this happen, can't wait for the next one!

    1. That's brilliant thank you. That was exactly what I had in mind - for people in Manchester to properly experience real Michelin star Spanish food to see the difference,those intense flavours are exactly right - it really was on another level.