On Hope Street lies the hero of our story, Nacho Manzanoâ€™s IbÃ©rica, in the heart of Glasgow city.
Today heâ€™s flown in from Spain to salute the ushering in of a new menu available exclusively in Scotland for the first time.
I will make an exception tonight: I will drink alcohol, but not too much. Our waiter pours Tio Pepe En Rama into my glass and Iâ€™m converted. A delicate sherry with understated flavours and stealth-wealth aromas.
Nacho delivers a presentation about the ethos of the new menu, which is evolving from an emphasis on meat to a more refined pursuit of vegetable-based dishes and ingredients.
Our first course is fresh tomato, dried tomato, caper berries, avocado, seaweed, tomato water and a basil oil emulsion. A blend of ingredients, the combination of pungent tomato and basil bouquet has me rocking in my chair. The other dish is a light and refreshing dish of pickled vegetables, which has retained the maximum amount of taste. A future classic.
Next, we are served Maria Del Mar Gran Reserva Cava and roasted leeks and a leek oil made from the green leaves, horseradish and almond emulsion with toasted almonds. I feel immersed in the experience, like being in the cinema.Â Our aubergine looks like chateaubriand, thick, and yielding. A griddled aubergine with an 11-vegetable stock, which has been cooked for 8 hours. Served on a bed of ceps and garnished with walnuts and rocket cress, Iâ€™m not shy in helping myself.
Then comes sautÃ©ed enoki mushrooms, cuttlefish and squid ink sauce. This is one of Nachoâ€™s signature dishes at two Michelin star restaurant Casa Marcial. French cuisine can so often be blinkered and overworked but Nachoâ€™s dishes ooze familial warmth. You want to bring your family, tell all your friends.
There are meatballs, intense and unforgettable. But the showstopper is the Cabraroca. A whole Cabra redfish from the Cantabrian sea, fried in crispy batter. A signature from Nachoâ€™s Gloria restaurant, which has proved a real hit at IbÃ©rica this winter. Served with Chivite Coleccion Reserva.Â You eat all the fish except the central skeleton and use your hands â€“ Iâ€™m not one to do away with tradition so I get stuck right in; the defining moment of the special occasion.
Textures of chocolate involves a chocolate ganache, sponge, ice cream meringue and crumble served with a peanut cream and apricot sauce. What Nachoâ€™s done with the spongeâ€¦it needs to be experienced to be believed.
But I still canâ€™t stop thinking about the JamÃ³n bar I saw when I arrived. They serve three different kinds: Juan Pedro Domencq â€“ Black Label JamÃ³n, from Jabugo, in Huelva.Â Four times awarded 3 gold stars as IbÃ©rico ham, cured for 42 months (Â£12/Â£24); BEHER Bernardo HernÃ¡ndez, Green label jamÃ³n from Guijuelo in Salamanca, cured for over 26 months in a traditional way (Â£10/Â£20) and JamÃ³n Serrano, cured for over 16 months, mild and low in salt (Â£5/Â£10).
Alternatively, you could have Trio de JamÃ³nes, a tasty platter of all three jamÃ³nes.Â IbÃ©ricaâ€™s jamÃ³n is made from 100% pure-breed, black Iberian pig. These pigs mature slowly; freely roaming the Spanish countryside, grazing in fields and acorn woods.Â Canâ€™t wait!
If you are heading to Glasgow this year, ensure you catch IbÃ©rica on Hope Street.Â You wonâ€™t be disappointed.
Menu available to the public in March.