By: Claire Locking
The Enoteca Group is responsible for some of Hong Kong’s consistently good restaurants: Enoteca and Bacar are packed almost every night of the week. Iberico & Co. is the latest opening from Enoteca’s husband-and-wife team Robert and Kim Cooper, who arrived in Hong Kong 18 years ago from the UK and started their careers as wait staff.
Iberico is on the same strip as Enoteca but has a sleeker, more grown-up feel. Robert describes is as “gastro railway chic”. (What else would you expect from a former advertising executive?)
The menu is a combination of Portuguese and Spanish with an emphasis on quality ingredients and authentic flavours. We started with a tasting platter of cured cuts ($160); Iberico, as the name would suggest, has one of the best selections in the city and Kim an almost encyclopaedic knowledge. It’s a long way from a finca (farm) in rural Spain to Soho, but surrounded by designer Kinney Chan’s interior with metal arched ceiling and Portuguese floor tiles, it seems the perfect place to enjoy such a treat.
In true Spanish style we moved on to a selection of small plates designed to share ($68-$88); goat’s-cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers; spicy meatballs with rustic vine-ripened tomato sauce; crispy cider-roasted pork belly with apples; pan-fried spicy chorizo with fried duck egg; and snapper pieces pan-fried with cherry tomatoes and coriander butter. All were perfectly cooked with a skilled balance of flavours. My only complaint would be the spiciness of the meatballs; although one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, I felt that the heat of the chilli overpowered the other flavours.
When it comes to tapas, you can’t forget to mention the wine list, and co-owner of the project is Nicola Buswell of Essential Fine Wines. She admits to being brave in her choice of a 90-percent Spanish, Portuguese and South American list, but the packed bar on the night we visited must mean she’s on to a winner. Port and sherry are also well represented and, for a true taste of Spanish summer holidays past, there is a staggering selection of 12 sangrias on offer.
If you have room for dessert, don’t miss the churros ($58), sweet doughnut strips served with a 72-percent cocoa chocolate sauce. Very filling but a welcome sweet treat after so many savoury flavours.
With its authenticity and attention to detail, Iberico & Co, is not just another Spanish tapas restaurant joining a long line of recent openings in the city.
G/F, 18 Shelley Street