Tag Archives: Tapas

Encasa, Lane Cove

Encasa in the CBD has long been a popular place for Spanish tapas and cured meats. Over the last year, owners Maria Barona and Francisco Rodriguez have expanded, opening two more city venues including an “express” takeaway in Chifley Plaza, and this cosy restaurant in their home turf of Lane Cove.  A couple of friends and I checked it out the other night, and were pleasantly surprised by the tasty, well priced food, and the added benefit of being able to BYO.  The staff were also very attentive and friendly.

There’s lots to tempt on the largely meat and seafood menu, though there are not too many options for vegetarians.  I’d love to see something like a ceviche or fresh fish dish added to the menu. Here’s what we tried

The jamon Iberico croquettes were delicious – crispy coating and gooey cheesey centre

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Scallops with a saffron cream sauce – a tasty smooth sauce and plump fresh scallops

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The tortilla de patata, a potato and onion omelette, didn’t look terribly exciting on the plate but delivered on flavour

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Sizzling prawns had a delicate hit of chilli and were also enjoyable

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I was looking forward to the beef cheek, and it was tender, but it didn’t pack the flavour punch of a similar dish I’ve had a few times at MoVida, and it could have used a bit more cauliflower puree.

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I really wanted to try the crema catalana for dessert but clearly so did everyone else as it was sold out! Next time.  I’m not big on churros as they remind me of donuts which I don’t like at all, but the girls were keen for a serve and I had a nibble – they were light and crispy.

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Banquet menus are available for groups of 8 or more priced between $42 and $55, and there’s a nice range of Spanish goodies you can buy to take home.  There’s a short kiddie menu too.

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Encasa Lane Cove, 132 Longueville Road, ph 02 9418 8577
https://encasa.com.au/landing-page/home-lane-cove-restaurant/

Encasa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gardels Bar, Surry Hills

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One Saturday night, a group of Cool Chicks descended on a bar in Surry Hills. (For the purposes of this review, I will temporarily be classified as a Cool Chick). Nestled above Porteno and run by the same crew, Gardels Bar – named after tango king Carlos Gardel – is a grown up bar. Sophisticated, moody and dimly lit, it is about more than just the looks, being a bar that also serves some clever food, earning it Best Bar For Good Food in this year’s 2015 Good Food Guide Awards. There is some great house made charcuterie on offer, among other things.

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The Cool Chicks opt for one of the “bar banquet” menus, by the end of which we are totally stuffed. But of course we also want some drinks to go with it, and at 8.30pm on a Saturday night, they have “run out of glasses”. Say again? “ummm, yes, your drinks will be here as soon as we clean some glasses”. And, half of the (quite compact and not overly complicated) cocktail menu is “not available”. Well, they did win Best Bar for their food, not for their drinks. Oops. They were very apologetic though, and did send over some free champagne later in the evening (once glassware supplies were restored).

So what did we have? There certainly was some interesting food going on, and is a good one for those on the 5:2 diet where you can throw caution (and hopefully cholesterol) to the wind.

Oysters Sangrita – wonderfully fresh – and a Broccoli & Ricotta Empanada, a delicious little mouthful.
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Piquillo Pepper filled with Rice, Pine Nuts, Currants & Marinated Fetta; and house cured salmon (yum) on a little brioche toast
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Crumbed ricotta and spinach balls and stuffed zucchini flowers – both delicious
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Beef empanada – wasn’t keen, there was too much of a spice, was it cumin?
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Next, house made Mortadella & Fontina Cheese Sandwich (the Italians at the table like their mortadella cut paper thin, and this was a bit thick); and Chorizo Porteño with Romesco Sauce BBQ. It was a big chunk of chorizo, would have been good if it was grilled or rendered in some fashion.
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The Brussel sprouts with sweet lentils we weren’t keen on either, the sprouts were quite tough.
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But then came the lamb Ribs with Chimichurri; yes they were fatty, but oh, they were good.
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And then in probably the biggest surprise of the evening – a knock out desert! This is what they call their “pavlova cake” – there is a layer of biscuit, dulce du leche, poached strawberries, a meringue, a cream layer then honeycomb and pistachios on the top. Wow!
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Gardels Bar, 358 Cleveland St, Surry Hills, Ph (02) 8399 1440
http://www.gardelsbar.com

Gardel's Bar at Porteño on Urbanspoon

MoVida Sydney

Frank, welcome to Sydney! Its great to have you here. The MoVida “empire” is growing, with three MoVide (I’m making up my own plural) in Melbourne, a bakery and taco offshoot, and even a bar at Tullamarine airport. Rapid expansion can be worrying, so of course an investigation of the family’s new addition was required to ensure it was all up to scratch.

Geez, 10 minutes to noon on a Friday and already a queue is forming out the door.  Like the Hosier Lane original, the place doesn’t have a lot of seats.  But the other good copy cat feature is that there is a section for walk ins. If you time it right (ie camp out) you’ll snare a seat.  This may be the way to go, as I hear dinner bookings are already very hard to come by. Also familiar are the booths for the bookings, and the bars and stools for the walk ins. I love the rich wood they’ve used for the tables and seating.

Our waiter advises that they’ve bought a few dishes across the border, but that they are trying to create something different and distinctly Sydney. I was hoping to see the pate with the Pedro Ximinez foam (devine) but it seems that one unfortunately didn’t get a passport.

One thing I’ve always really liked about MoVida is that you can order individual tapas items, rather than a serve. This means that when I’ve been with my vegacquarian husband, I can still indulge my carnivore tendancies and get to try a few different things.

Value, as always, is excellent, the food was less than $45 a person and I was comfortably full.

On the menu:

Zucchini filled with crab served with pea and mint gazpacho. A gorgeous fresh dish, almost a Japanese/Spanish fusion in my mind. Big tick to begin.

Burrata (roll those r’s baby) with vegetables, a special.  Nice and creamy, as burrata should be, but not as good as what I’ve had at some Italian restaurants.

Jamon Croquetas, a visiting special from Melbourne. Crunchy outside, creamy and flavoursome inside

Beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez with cauliflower puree. Silky smooth puree (a bigger dollop next time please) and fall apart tender beef. The beef on its own is very rich, but combined with the puree it is just right.

Spicy Pork Ribs on Charcoal. Finger licking good as ribs should be.

Charcoal grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce. The Romesco was a standout, could have had a bowl of that alone to spread on some fresh sourdough.

Really, we could have stopped here, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try desert. Leche meringue with candied almonds and caramelized fig, a special. While they called this a meringue, it was sort of a cross between a sorbet and an ice cream. It worked, especially with the gorgeous crunchy almonds.

Eyeing off the dishes of neighbouring tables, I’ll have to come back and try the zucchini flowers and the pork belly and the bocadillos, for starters.

Melbourne, we’ve sent you down Neil Perry, Mark Best, Shaun Presland, and Martin Boetz to name a few, thanks for sending Frank Camorra our way.

MoVida, 50 Holt St Surry Hills ph (02) 8964 7642
http://www.movida.com.au
MoVida Sydney on Urbanspoon

Barrafina on Bligh

03 Sept 12 – Looking for something to eat, three hungry people saw a bright yellow sign labelled Barrafina Tapas.  In we went.  Its namesake sits in the West End in London.  The owner assured us he’d been to that one “at least 600 times” and was determined to replicate it in Sydney.  He himself is a Greek from Bondi, but he’s imported a couple of Spaniards to keep it real.  I dare say they’re happy to have their hands on a 457. It’s an interesting yet familiar tapas menu, croquetas, jamon, chorizo, pork belly.  All got the thumbs up and the pricing is incredibly reasonable , giving us some respite  in this era of Austerity Measures. No doubt we’ll be back to work our way through the list on the blackboard . Given its pricing and proximity to the banking sextet, or however many of us are left in the surrounding block these days, it should do very well.  The takeaway jamon bocadillos at $10 look a steal, but we’ve been advised to call ahead and order before 12.30pm. If you go in with a hangover  (to pick up a Spanish style breakfast BLT with machengo), take your sunnies, the yellow stools and walls might knock you about a bit.

I’ve also got my eye on Bar H at Surry Hills.  The menu looks quirky and creative, and in the land of $45 mains, an 8 course banquet at $75 is a welcome relief.  Hamish’s pedigree is solid, including Chez Panisse , Milsons and Billy Kwongs. They also run cooking classes which look like fun.

Oh, and by the way, that suckling pig at Pilu on the weekend – the crackling was superb. But for me the dish of the night was the Sardinian pasta malloreddus with spanner crab, guanciale and crispy bread – worth a try if you happen to find yourself in Freshwater.

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Have a great week

Barrafina Tapas Bar, 2 Bligh St, ph 02 9231 2551

Barrafina Tapas Bar on Urbanspoon