Test Driving Llerena - a slice of Extremadura on Islington's Upper Street


So what do we need to know about Llerena

If you're looking for a tapas spot where you'd be 100% sure of the quality of the produce then look no further. This newish Spanish restaurant in Islington is the first restaurant from Extramadura specialists Jamon y Salud run by the Torres family. They'v been raising Iberian pigs since before the second world war. Their prize winning jamón ibérico de bellota is what's on offer here - along with all manner of other amazing Spanish foods and wines.

Where exactly is it?

Towards the top end of Upper Street, so Highbury and Islington would be the easiest tube station.

jamonThe award-winning jamon

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

If it's cocktails you're after then Little Bat or The Four Sisters are both safe bets and only a few minutes away.There's also the nearby Dead Dolls House and if it's a pub you're after, then The Drapers Arms is always good.

What's on the menu?

The menu kicks off with cheese from Extramadura and a selection of jamon and cold cuts. From there you can move into classic tapas, then toastas before ending with stews or Iberico meat from the grill. THere's also a cracking looking weekend brunch - huevos rotos with Jamon Iberico anyone? Thought so.

We've been a couple of times now, the first time sitting up at the counter at the front of the restaurant where it seemed like we were the only non-Spanish in the place. The second time we took a table at the back, where there are some nice spaces if you're a larger group.

croquetasOxtail croquetas

So what should we order?

Honestly, we haven't had a duff dish yet and we've given the menu a fairly good going-over. So we'll pick out some of the things we've enjoyed most:

  • The Jamon Iberica de Bellota (£13 half portion - £24 full portion) - obviously.
  • Torreznos - (£2.50) pork crackling still popping as it arrives at the table
  • Croquetas de rabo de toro - (£5.75) - diminutive oxtail croquetas, all too easy to keep popping into your mouth.
  • Bacalao Dorada (£7) - a hash of salt cod, shoestring fries and eggs
  • Presa Iberica from the grill (£10.50/£19) - for the same reasons as you'll be ordering the jamon. These also come with pretty wonderful fried potatoes on the side. You won't want to share.

For dessert, you'll be wanting the churros (£4.25) which can be pretty hit and miss around London, so it's good to find perfect ones here.

porkThe secreto pork from the grill (with fried potatoes underneath)

And to drink?

In addition to a decent cocktail list and a special gin and tonic menu and sherry selection, the all-Spanish winelist ranges from £5.50 for a glass of Cava to £80 for a bottle of Rivera del Duero from Hacienda Abascal. We went for the house Rivera del Guadiana at £27 a bottle and it's really very good.

Overall thoughts:

The wonderful produce and talent in the kitchens here elevates Llerena from a good neighbourhood tapas joint into one well worth crossing town for. Just make sure you do before word really gets out on how good it is.


More about Llerena

Where is it? 167 Upper St, London N1 1US

Find out more: Visit Jamon Y Salud's website or follow them on Instagram @llerena.ibericotapasbar.



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