British Game, Spanish Style at Iberica Victoria:
I love game. Maybe it’s just that the meat still has the sort of flavours I remember from my childhood, meat where you can almost smell the countryside. Maybe it is that many game dishes are slow cooked so that the meat is tender. Maybe it’s a fascination with the huge variety. For whatever reason I am always happy to find venison, partridge, hare and mallard duck on the menu. Free range and organic by nature, it just has to be a healthy way to eat. I also have a soft spot for Iberica – a small group of restaurants in London that serve unusual and authentic Spanish dishes.
A perfect marriage for me then, Iberica has just launched its new game menu. I was fortunate enough to go along and taste a few of the dishes on offer at the latest Iberica restaurant in Victoria. After we’d enjoyed a Spanish Gin and Tonic or glass or two of sangria of course…
We met Iberica Group Head Chef Cesar Garcia, who has worked alongside Nacho Manzano, Executive Head Chef to create this stunning selection of winter game dishes, showcasing the best of British produce, served Spanish style.
He explained that the sourcing of Iberica’s game was of paramount importance, Lincolnshire game offering products from across British country estates to ensure sustainable, top quality ingredients. Our menu was served in small tapas style portions so that we could taste everything on offer. Each dish though was paired with a Spanish wine, from the straw coloured Limousin reserva Vedejo Rueda which accompanied the hare through to a deep red Los Aljibes Cabernet Franc, an elegant, minerally and smokey red wine which was paired with the deer loin.
Fabes stew with hare, by contrast, was rich and almost sticky. Perfect winter food.
Our next dish, of partridge pie, used a potato crust to create a lighter, melting dish that was hard to share.
I’m not entirely sure how popular beetroot is in Spain, but boletus and beetroot did make excellent partners for the Mallard duck breast, served perfectly pink in the middle with wafer thin shavings of beetroot on a melting puree.
By this stage, the tapas sized portions began to make sense; there were two more dishes to try.
Firstly venison meatballs with apple puree and a rich jus were gamey, rich and very moreish. Of all the dishes we tried, this is probably the one I am most likely to attempt to recreate in my own kitchen.
Finally, Deer loin with roast garlic and honey alioli; once again a dish that showcased the game perfectly, with delicate slices of perfectly rare meat accompanied by a sticky, garlicy side dish which I believe included Jerusalem artichokes, chantarelle and pine nuts.
It’s worth mentioning that Iberica Victoria is a fine place to go for a drink – they serve one of the best Gin Mare’s in town
And, that the restaurant is conveniently close to Victoria station, so perfect for meeting friends.
I missed the opening event a few months ago, but am pleased to discover that Iberica Victoria remains true to the ethos of this small group of restaurants. It still looks and feels entirely Spanish and it serves a range of delicious dishes with some unusual Spanish wines at very reasonable prices.