Nottingham has had a bit of, some might say, unfair hype for being a city that likes a drink.
But there's no denying that in the last five years its restaurant scene, greatly helped by the ever-evolving Nottingham Restaurant Awards, has come on leaps and bounds.
The latest addition to places to eat and drink in the East Midland's first city is Ibérico World Tapas, from the people behind longtime Nottingham dining scene darling, World Service – winner of the aforementioned awards' Best Restaurant category for three years running from 2003. After which, it's fair to say, residents will have high hopes for this more casual offering.
Ashley Walter, who also owns CAST and used to own Geisha, both in Nottingham, and Dan Lindsay of World Service have taken a site in the fashionable Lace Market in the grade II listed Shire Hall, below the Civic Court, in what was once part of the county jail, guided ghost walks still taking place in the cellars below.
The space's original vaulted ceilings and fl agstone fl ooring have been brought up to date with a "Modern rustic" makeover of a stoolsurrounded walnut bar, Moorish tiles and leather sofas. Its 60 covers are split between 30 table level seats and 30 stools. Jacque Ferreira (who's clocked up Pan-Asian experience at local restaurants Geisha, Chino Latino and Tsunami) is Head Chef with a new menu that lists 50 per cent Spanish, 50 per cent Asian tapas which is, he says, "the latest craze in Spain".
It sounds messier than it is with classics such as Padron Peppers, Crispy Courgette Flowers Stuffed with Montenebro Cheese Drizzled with Honey and Ablondigas (meatballs with spicy brava sauce) sitting alongside Steamed Edamame with Sea Salt, Scallop Carpaccio with Yuzu Truffl e Vinaigrette and Duck and Pear with Sancho Pepper. Desserts are all Spanish and include the unashamedly traditional – Churros and Hot Chocolate and the more unusual Yogurt Cake with Pistachio, Pomegranate and Lemon Curd. The house wine is Txakoli, a slightly fi zzy Basque white wine traditionally served in tumblers with tapas.
Ibérico is only open in the evenings from Tuesday to Friday but is open all day on Saturdays, with the space likely to be used for private parties and corporate events at other times.
The canny opening hour of 5pm during the week puts tapas and drinks fi rmly on the menu for the post offi ce workers crowd who have 90 minutes at their table before they turn as it were. The restaurant is open until 12pm weeknights and has a licence until 2am for Saturday nights. Hot tapas will only be served until 11pm though, with the kitchen's chefs then preparing cold tapas for latecomers.
Importantly too, the set-up should appeal to other people who work in the industry with restaurant employees notoriously getting a raw deal when it comes to their own after work entertainment.
In London, Chinatown is a fail-safe haunt and now, in Nottingham, those who make a living out of feeding others can do a lot better than a kebab or dodgy curry for a post work wind-down.
The Shire Hall, High Pavement, Nottingham, NG1 1HN.
01159 410 410