A Taste of the Mediterranean in Canary Wharf – Ibérica La Terraza
With summer teasing us this year and the opportunity to dine al fresco being a rare occurrence, I was extremely lucky to have been asked to sample Ibérica La Terraza on one of the warmest evenings of the year so far.
Located directly opposite the main Ibérica restaurant in Canary Wharf, La Terraza has taken over a leafy corner of Cabot Square and offers a taste of Madrid’s famous ‘terrace culture’ in E14. In fact they brought in renowned Catalan designer Lázaro Rosa Violán to give it an authentic style. As soon as you step through the iron gates you feel as if you have entered an enchanted garden, with the smell and gentle sound of the neighbouring fountain making you feel you are in the middle of the Mediterranean rather than the middle of London’s banking capital. Latin music plays softly in the background and the staff have thick Spanish accents, all adding to the authenticity of the surroundings.
The menu at La Terraza is different to that of the main restaurant, with the focus on authentic tapas and pinchos. Pinchos literally mean “to spike” and traditionally consist of a small piece of bread topped with a variety of ingredients. The beauty of these small plates is that you get to taste and share a good selection of the menu, rather than getting food envy when your friend’s meal turns up looking more appetizing than the one you ordered!
The cured meat & Spanish cheese platters make good starters. There is also a Jamon platter using the famous Jamon ham, which comes from wild pigs and is cured for at least 45 months to exacting family standards.
My favourites amongst the tapas/pincho selection were the fried fresh squid served on parsley & garlic bread; the anchovy, escalivada and Idiazábal cheese pinchos; the Butifarra pork burger and the Gambas al Ajillo (prawns cooked in olive oil with garlic and cayenne pepper).
The squid was succulent and you could taste the freshness. Although anchovies are not to everyone’s taste, this worked very well against the smoky taste of the cheese and escalivada. I had not come across a Butifarra burger before and it is an Ibèrica twist on the traditional pincho. These bite sized burgers are not heavy but pack a flavour punch with the addition of pickled fennel. You can easily manage two without feeling guilty! However, this cannot be said for the Huevos rotos (Spanish version of ham, egg and chips). Although delicious, the fried egg and Iberico ham served over a portion of chips is not for those counting the calories! Prices are not too steep considering the location. Pinchos are priced at £2-£3.50 each and a portion of tapas ranges from £5-£10.
Another fun recommendation is drinking some wine from the porrón, a type of traditional Spanish wine pitcher designed to be shared amongst a group of people, but hygienically (done right, the tapered glass spout doesn’t touch the mouth). Although none of us were brave enough to give it a go, the waiter gave us a demonstration of how it should be done without spilling a drop!
We sampled the rose and white wines, which were extremely good. Bought in the porrón (375 ml) they are reasonably priced as well, starting at £12. There are also a selection of very good cocktails including La Terraza’s signature cocktail consisting of gin, cranberries, lime, sugar and cranberry juice. Ideal for a summer’s evening.
So next time the sun makes an appearance and you fancy a little taste of the Mediterranean without having to catch a plane, I would recommend a visit to Canary Wharf and Ibérica La Terraza. One point to remember though is that they don’t take reservations so unless you get there early, you may need to wait for a table. Although with a cocktail in your hand, this shouldn’t be too onerous!
Ibérica La Terraza
London E14 4QQ
T: 020 7636 8650