The Iberian Pig

February 11, 2018

Claiming to merge traditional Spanish flavours with modern technique and culinary creativity, The Iberian Pig has been serving up its playful interpretations for a handful of years now. I've had my fair share of visits to this restaurant, but I've never actually shared my experience with you guys. So when I recently booked a reservation for a belated birthday dinner, I thought 'why not finally whip up a little post.' 

If you are on the hunt for authentic Spanish cuisine, this honestly isn't the restaurant for you. The Iberian Pig claims to have its roots in traditional Spanish flavours, but I would describe the cuisine as more so, tipping it's hat to Spain as it embarked on its own journey. To me, their 'tapas' style menu is the most Spanish-inspired element in regards to the food served, but that is quite alright with me. 

For those of you who may not know, in Spain, tapa is the name given to a small savory dish. And to make a meal from tapas, you typically have to order quite a few depending on the size of your party. I typically order 4-5 tapas to share when I visit The Iberian Pig, give or take dessert, and that fills me up quite nicely. But this time around, we ordered 6, with a few new tapas that I've never tried before.

This was my second time having the pork cheek tacos and they were as delicious as the first! The tacos were loaded with braised pork, grilled corn salsa, avocado créma, cilantro, lime, saffron arroz, English peas, sous vide egg yolk, and lemon alioli. The meat was perfectly tender and moist, and because it can be such a heavy protein to chow down on, the corn salsa and avocado créma offered the perfect pairing, adding a fresh element that lightened each bite. 

This was my first time having this dish and my first time having fried oysters, period. But I must say, this turned out to be my second favourite tapa of the night! With heirloom tomatoes and Benton's Bacon rillette sandwiched in between a toasted sliver of bread and perfectly fried oyster, this tapa put a smile on my face with each bite. There was the perfect amount of espelette vinegar and allioli drizzled for the size of each pintxo, offering a cool pairing next to the smokiness of the bacon rillette.  

These pork meatballs were probably the least memorable tapa of the night for me, only because of its simplicity next to the others, but still delicious nonetheless. They were not dense like many "restaurant meatballs" often are, instead these had a wonderful texture and were quite delectable. With such tender meat, you almost didn't need to chew. The cascabel chili espuma was a gorgeous compliment to the pork meatballs, though a completely unexpected flavour profile for me, I still found it rather enjoyable.

This has been my absolute favourite dish at The Iberian Pig so far. I think I've ended up ordering it every single time I've been in the restaurant. I simply cannot get over how delicious their braised veal shank ravioli is! Of course the meat is cooked perfectly and portioned correctly for the size of the ravioli, but the real star of this dish is the rioja cream sauce and black truffle crème fraîche; there are no words to describe this incredible pairing (we even asked for bread so we could mop up every last bit of that delicious sauce). And the addition of roasted mushrooms was simply the icing on the cake for me because I am a true mushroom lover; they also add a great textural element next to the tenderness and smoothness of the ravioli. 

While my lamb chops were a touch overdone, having a bit of charred endive with each bite was a surprising but pleasant marriage of two very different flavour profiles. The endive on its own has a slightly bitter taste, but when paired with the lamb and salbitxada, I didn't even remember that endives were known for their distinctive bitterness. Even though they were charred they still possessed a nice bite to them, which was a nice textural element. The salbitxada was also a noteworthy element since it pairs so well with grilled vegetables (charred endives in this case). It's vibrant colour and unique taste would leave most puzzled because with each bite, it almost seems familar; the ingredients are no stranger to you, but you have never quite had them all at once in 'sauce/salsa form' so your tastebuds are confused. Do you taste nuts? Is that a hint of chili? Does this recipe include tomatoes? It's difficult to say for sure, but that is the beauty of this sauce. 

This was my second time having the seared duck breast and I am still a fan. The roasted baby carrots and carrot purée had such a pleasant sweetness that I felt I had just had a savory dessert. For me, the olive caramel sauce tasted similar to green apple and you only needed the slightest bit or else it could easily over sweeten each bite. But everything married very well together. I was happy with the cook on my duck breast; it melted in my mouth. 

I think overall, The Iberian Pig is a great restaurant for those looking to spend a bit more on a nice meal and some good wine. The staff is wonderful and well-versed in their drink and food menus, which is very helpful if it happens to be your first time dining with them. Most of the tapas I have tried have been wonderful, there are only a few dishes here and there that were not winners, but that all boils down to personal preference in those instances. Since I'm not really a fan of alcohol, I cannot speak on their wine and cocktail selections, but I do know they place a strong emphasis on their beverage program, so that could possibly enhance your dining experience.

Ambience: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Food: 4/5
Value: 4/5

- Would I dine there again?
I typically go to celebrate special occasions.

- Things I enjoyed?
Ambience- but they could ease up on dimming the lights as much as they do
Excellent service
That Braised Veal Shank Ravioli

Have any of you ever visited The Iberian Pig? What did you order when you dined there? What are your favourite tapas? I'd love to know!


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