Early last week, in the midst of yet another glorious snowstorm, a select gang of media, influencers and bloggers gathered downtown for a private tasting at Ibérica, a swanky new high-end Spanish eatery. The exquisitely decorated restaurant sprawls out across a beautiful main floor and ascends to a multi-tiered mezzanine. The modern space is the latest creation brought strikingly to life by Zébulon Perron, one of Montreal’s go-to, top-notch restaurant design teams.
Featuring some of their greatest hits elements such as multi-level seating in the same space, depth creating angles that fit tables into places you’d never expect, mixed-element tables and crisp linens. Perhaps the most astonishing element featured in Ibérica’s design is the massive light figure that hangs from the lofty ceiling. Walking by the restaurant at night, you can’t miss the gorgeous light emanating from the cool new restaurant, creating instant FOMO for anyone passing by. Imagine the type of need-to-be-there ambiance seen in movies and tv shows set in New York or Paris, Ibérica is Montreal’s luxurious answer to that atmosphere. Combing rough and sometimes brutally exposed elements with the warmth of supple leathers and sanded wood, Ibércia is a unique space that’s both inviting and immersive.
A restaurant’s décor is only as good as the food that comes out of the kitchen. At Ibérica, the kitchen, led by Marino Tavares, excels at creating fresh, flavourful dishes ranging from delicious tapas to Josper oven grilled seafood and so much more. We had the chance to sample a variety of dishes starting with Cod fritters during our welcome cocktail. Using salted cod, the fritters, which are served with a saffron aioli, are bursting with savoury and salty flavour.
Taking to our seats, the meal began with a collection of appetizers including smoked Manchego cheese, a fluffy yet slightly chewy coca bread with fresh tomatoes, Mallafre olive oil and fleur de sel, del Cantabrico anchovies and a selection of cured meats that included chorizo, salchion and Iberian ham. Continuing with smaller dishes, we were next served two dishes found on the tapas menu; garlic and espelette pepper Tiger shrimp and grilled asparagus with Iberian ham. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, retaining their texture and flavour while the asparagus were fresh, crunchy and grilled to summer-inspired perfection.
The next came straight out of Ibérica’s Spain-imported Josper oven. The wood-fired oven super heats to 500 degrees, quick cooking the food while giving it deep smoked flavour. We were served a delectable white fish that feel apart at the touch of a fork. We were also served a piping hot dish of tomato flavoured and chorizo topped paella. The paella is normally served stuffed with seafood but my weakening intolerance to seafood could only take so much in one sitting. They were kind enough to prepare a dish of seafood-free paella just for me. We finished off our main courses with an herb and salt crusted bellota pork skirt steak.
We finished the meal off by devouring homemade churros (and the caramel and chocolate that came with them), an almond busint with lime mousse, cream of passion fruit and a white chocolate ganache and a chocolate mousse with croutons, olive oil and fleur de sel.
Yes, we ate a lot of food but my overall impression, from start to finish, is pretty stellar. Ibérica is up against some pretty stiff competition in the area and standing out is the only way to go. The restaurant stands out with a beautiful décor, exquisite cuisine and top notch service.
Image credit: Ibérica