Sydney. Tuesday night. Clocked off a shade before 6pm. Same day return flight to Brisbane scheduled for 8pm…Dilemma? Where to dine for a quick bite and catch up with my dear Sydney-based friend Ames?
Turn down an alley behind Macquarie Place and you’ll find yourself on the end of a moving line…get on the end of it and in no time (if you’re early enough) you’re seated at a tiny table in the rapidly filling restaurant Tapavino. See that’s what I love about big cities – tools down and it’s straight to the street. Bars, cafes and restaurants buzzing with people!
Already crowded and bustling with the hum of post-work chatter with the occasional ‘chink’ of a wine glass, this Spanish bar and restaurant had an epic wine and sherry list and a seriously delicious variety of different (think traditional with an edge) tapas on the continually refreshed menu. It was a wonderful hark back to my recent visit to Spain, conjuring memories of the tremendous tapas savoured along the way. With larger dishes of Carnes, Ensalada and Pescado as well as smaller ‘Bocados’ comprising of olives, tostadas, pate and morcilla to accompany or address some pre-meal nibbles, the menu had options to quash just about any craving.
Our choices were quick and easy, jotted down by the waiter with our drinks order…a Pinot Gris for Ames and (sadly) a diet coke for me. To be fair I did have a flight to catch.
The first dish to arrive was the smaller tapa plate of Avocado, spanner crab and mint tostada. The flavours were incredible – you could genuinely taste each element. The creaminess of the avocado, the slight saltiness and juicy flesh of the crab, the zing of mint and freshly squeezed lemon and the crisp note of olive oil drizzled on top. The contrasting textures of the avocado and crab mixture piled onto seriously crunchy toast (the type of crunchy that means half the toast goes flying into your lap as you try to cut through it…it’s OK I don’t think anyone saw..) added to the sensory delight of the dish.
The second dish set down in front of us was the Asparagus and mushrooms with succulent Jamon and air dried tuna. Wow. The oils the asparagus lay in were unbelievable. Crisp olive flavours with a lemony note it was a divine jus-like accompaniment to the perfectly cooked asparagus and salty Jamon. The small enoki mushrooms added another texture and buttery flavour whilst the air dried tuna was a surprise for the palate.
The final dish was the Braised chorizo, black olives, romesco de tapavino served with pan de casa. It arrived in a heavy cast iron pot swathed in a thick and chunky style tomato romesco sauce dotted with black olives and finished with parsley. Although tasty the real hero was the incredibly fluffy and flavoursome house-made sourdough that accompanied it, with a crust that was just the right amount of ‘chewy’. The bread was especially delicious when used to soak up the left over asparagus oils…a taste combination that was so inexplicably delightful it prompted a very inelegant ‘mopping up’ action, which was repeated several times over.
So whether you’re looking for a quick eat or place to graze with friends and wine, Tapavino has it all. And with food service attentive and prompt you’re guaranteed to make your 8pm flight…PLUS have time to take a Harbour snap shot on the way!
Where are some other ‘must try’ Sydney CBD eateries?