Encasa in Lane Cove is an outpost from the much loved original on Pitt Street in Sydney CBD. We started with the Marinated white anchovies with toasted sourdough. The anchovies were XL in size and very flavorsome, with strong hints of lemon.
One of my favourite tapas dish is croquettes and Encasa's version with jamon Iberico had the perfect crispy outside and creamy inside.
There's a whole section of the menu devoted to pickled tinned goods which I found intriguing. We ordered the Tinned razor clams, as it's not something that is easily available. The dish arrived with its packaging intact - in case you like it, you can pick it up at the small deli at the front of the restaurant. I think I prefer my razor clams freshly cooked, but the quality of the tinned version was surprisingly good.
Another interesting dish was the Octopus carpaccio with mustard ice cream, which was one of the specials of the day. The flavours of octopus and mustard surprisingly went well together, though the carpaccio was a little icy and not as tender as I would have liked.
We finished off the meal with Pork cheeks and potato puree. The puree was delightfully smooth and creamy and the pork cheeks simply dissolved in my mouth. A wonderfully moreish dish.
Encasa is always reliable for a good Spanish feed and it's great to have one north of the bridge.
Tapavno is one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney so I was delighted to hear the same team had opened Born by Tapavino in Barrangaroo, with a nod to the flavours of Barcelona. One of the things I loved most about my travels in Spain was the seemingly endless supply of Serrano ham. At Born by Tapavino, they have a wide selection of jamon with different accompaniments to choose from. We opted for the Jamon with the spiced plum and goat's curd. The strong flavours of the spiced plum were balanced out by the goat's curd and the slices of jamon were simply delicious.
I love churros for dessert but I think I prefer these Manchego churros. Filled with delicious cheese, the churros was topped with a crunchy, spicy, chorizo crumb - an explosion of flavour!
The Pan-fried King prawns were tasty and beautifully seasoned, but for $28, I was expecting a bigger portion.
We also ordered one of the specials of the night, Duck breast with caper and raisin puree, chargrilled waldorf and jamon crumb. The duck was perfectly cooked, still pink on the inside. The caper and raisin puree really livened up the taste buds and I loved the jamon crumb for the added punch of flavour and for the texture.
For dessert, we shared the Mil hojas 'thousand leaves', turron parfait and sour cherry compote. The 'thousand leaves' was a crunchy caramelised wafer thin disc and went beautifully with the nougat parfait. The sour cherry sauce really tied the whole dish together.
The tapas style menu is great for sharing, allowing you to try many dishes and great with a glass or two of Spanish wine (of which they have a very extensive menu of).
Tucked away in the basement behind George Street in Sydney's CBD is Mercado, a Spanish restaurant showcasing the talents of former Nomad chef, Nathan Sasi. From our table, we could see all the mouthwatering food leaving the open kitchen and I couldn't wait to dig in.
We started with the Ortiz Anchovy Tart with roasted bull horn peppers. The tart is made up of a crispy thin sheet of pastry, and allowed the anchovy and the soft and sweet peppers to shine. This little morsel definitely left me salivating for more.
The Zucchini flowers were fried to perfection with a crunchy batter and filled with beautiful, house made goat's curd. I enjoyed the mojo rojo sauce which gave it a little kick of heat.
Our waitress recommended the Truffle mortadella, which was velvety smooth and simply delicious. The truffle flavour was pronounced without being overpowering. It goes beautifully with the slices of sourdough baked inhouse and the sweet and slightly spicy guindillas peppers.
The next dish of Pippies in a saffron and tomato broth with garlic crutons was deliciously moreish. The pippies were sweet and plump, and the crutons were very handy to soak up the flavoursome broth.
The Turkish ravioli had a soft and silky texture, with a roasted pumpkin filling and dressed with yoghurt, burnt butter sauce and crispy sage leaves. I wasn't expecting such a top quality pasta dish at a Spanish restaurant but it was definitely one of the highlights of the night.
The Smoked lamb ribs were beautifully seasoned and had a wonderful sweetness from the peach molasses. The meat slid off the bone at the slightest touch. The salt bush provided a little relief from the richness of the ribs, not that I am complaining.
I had seen the Porchetta rotating on the spit roast in the kitchen so was eager to try this dish. The sheer size of the pork was impressive as it lands on our table, definitely one to be shared! Crispy crackling, amazingly tender meat paired with a vibrant romesco sauce - it is another must-order!
After the meat fest, we had no more room for dessert but I can't wait to return. The dishes are kept simple, with only a few ingredients on the plate, but each plays a key role in the flavour and texture of the dish. Service was attentive but not obtrusive, it made for a great dining experience.
Hidden in a laneway in Circular Quay is Tapavino, a charming Spanish restaurant. As I stepped in, for a moment, I felt like I was in one of the tapas bars in Barcelona or Madrid. Everything on the menu sounded delicious so it was hard for my friends and I to decide what to eat. The wine list is extensive to say the least so we asked the waitress to help us with our selection.
We started with the Braised chicken, tomato salsa and paprika mayo. The meat was perfectly tender and the sauce was incredibly tasting without overpowering the chicken.
The Blood sausage is served with manuka honey and walnuts. It was again packed with flavour and had the right hits of sweet and salty.
The Braised chorizo was a hearty dish, served with a side of sourdough which came in handy to soak up the wonderfully thick tomato sauce.
Tapavino's menu features an entire section devoted to jamon. We decided to go with the Jamon, mushroom & black truffled tart with shaved manchego. The tart was hidden under a generous pile of beautiful, melt in your mouth jamon. The flavour combination of jamon with truffles and the manchego cheese was incredible. I could have happily devoured the whole dish.
For dessert, we couldn't go past the Chocolate terrine, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. The terrine is very rich and the olive oil and the sea salt flakes complemented the intensity of the chocolate flavour beautifully.
The Dulce de leche tart was accompanied by a generous dollop of cream. A simple dessert flawlessly executed, definitely worth saving room for.
I highly recommend Tapavino if you are a fan of good Spanish food and wine. Servings are generous and the atmosphere is unpretentious and has a definite buzz to it.
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