A POPULAR Glasgow tapas restaurant and cocktail bar has introduced a new head chef from Spain to their kitchen.

Enrique Ruiz Marcos from Bilbao, in northern Spain, has now joined the team at Rioja, on Argyle Street, Finnieston.

His arrival is being celebrated with new Spanish and spring dishes and drinks.

Bosses’ aim for the menu is to show their guests they don’t need to head to San Sebastian to enjoy a taste of Spain.

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Trained in Basque Country and with experience seeing him work at Malaga’s first gastronomic hotel, Malaga Premium, to the avant-garde Azurmendi restaurant in Bilbao, this is Enrique’s first Scottish appointment on his culinary career.

With a wealth of cooking styles and experience, Enrique will bring his philosophy of flavour and sustainability to Rioja.

The cooking master isdeveloping tapas dishes that are simple, sustainable and captivate the essence of Spain, said the restaurant.

New to the menu are black rice with squid ink, coated in a lemon peel cream and sustainable Scottish hake with dressed potatoes and a zingy green sauce.

To celebrate his arrival, the bar team has also developed Iberian cocktail specials that offer something for everyone and pay homage to Spanish favourites.

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Available for six weeks, customers will find the ‘Barcelona’ – a fresh fizz cocktail with Spanish Cava, gin, bitters and rhubarb – on offer that is expected to be a hit with customers taking to the terrace when the warmer weather rolls in.

For those after something more smooth, the new ‘Pedro’s punch’ will offer a sweet kick of Pedro Ximenéz sherry, bourbon and lemon.

Gin lovers are sure to adore the Purple Prince, made with the dark berry botanicals of Brockman’s gin, violet liqueur, lemonade and thyme, while the Finnieston Sunshine is a light and refreshing fusion of rum, fresh mint, lime, zingy passion fruit and sparkling soda.

Enrique described his excitement at being in Scotland for the first time.

He said: “This is my first time in Scotland and I’ve been very excited to create authentic and sustainable Spanish tapas in Glasgow.

“Using Scottish products that are local is incredible, and I’ve enjoyed experiencing new ingredients every day.

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“My dishes are simple and full of flavour, best shared over wine and I look forward to welcoming guests, old and new, through our doors.”

Toni Carbajosa, the co-owner Rotunda Group, told of the new direction he hopes the West End eatery will take under the direction of Enrique.

He added: “The arrival of Enrique is an exciting step for our kitchen team.

“He is a master of his trade, and we’re looking forward to bringing new tapas and new flavours to our menu.

“Our aim for Rioja has always been to deliver a concept that showcases the most authentic Spanish dishes using both Iberian and Scottish produce and, with the exciting arrival of Enrique, we will continue to do that.”

Renowned for creative modern tapas dishes and exciting cocktails, customers can try the new dishes and drinks in Rioja from this week.

For bookings, contact the restaurant directly on 0141 334 0761.