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Iberica, Marylebone

Last week I needed somewhere chilled for lunch with friends in Marylebone - also had to be buggy friendly - and with Spanish / tapas our cuisine of choice, Iberica was the obvious solution. It was my first time at any of the three Ibericas and I'd heard good things, so was pretty excited.

It's a lovely light room with lots of tables and ours was tucked away in a little alcove which was ideal. Not so ideal when 25 minutes later we were still to have our drinks order taken and had to flag down staff - any staff - and unfortunately this set the tone for the rest of the lunch. Anytime we wanted anything we had a loooong wait and had to get up and ask for it. A) annoying and b) some of us were on an hour lunch break so didn't get to eat much at all.

Second minor moan coming up: when we asked for a bottle of house white we were told all the wines were 'of the house' and directed to two of the priciest options. Never good. We ordered the cheapest bottle we could find on principal and of course it was lovely. Go anywhere decent to eat and all the wines on their list will be. Things picked up significantly once wine was in hand. We ordered a selection of dishes to share starting with the aubergine with honey and pine nuts. That was literally what it was and it was great:

Their tortilla seemed to us a must-have, and it arrived with a perfect goldenness hinting at its wobbly just unset interior. Absolutely delicious if very filling.

We excitedly ordered the croquettas which have a deservedly good reputation; the jamon very Iberican and the bechamel (do we call it that if its spanish?) creamily comforting. I'm not entirely sure we needed all 12 that the waitress insisted we did but hey ho, Leo enjoyed hoovering up the remains.

Cod brandade (a personal fave, featured next to the aubergine pics) was the right side of salty and had a nice texture to it, making it almost like a Spanish fishy rillette. We ended with a steaming bowl of black rice spiked with seafood. I had this in Mallorca and loved it, and luckily Iberica's lived up to my head hype. Very garlicky and impressively unctuous considering lack of dairy.

The meal cost us about £30 a head but included two bottles of wine. The menu is gigantic and I'm definitely going back for more, starting with the actual Iberico.

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