Basquing In It—4 of the Best Tapas Restaurants In Sydney To Try
How the fabled Spanish region is dousing Sydney in Manzanilla and Espelette pepper.
Foodies who know their gildas from their goyas will have noticed a proliferation of new bars in Sydney serving Basque fare.
From fine-dining Gilda’s in Sydney’s Surry Hills, where creative menus are overseen by chef Lennox Hastie to the vibey Circular Quay haunt Deux Frères, where light-hearted fun and pintxos are the order of the day, both the CBD and inner-city are enjoying a lick of Northern Spain.
Over at Merivale Group, there’s the distinct hum of Donostia-San Sebastián, too. Options run from the delectable Una Más in Coogee, where Jordan Toft is rattling the pans and giving tapas a refreshing produce-driven polish to the minuscule Bar Topa in the back lanes of George Street, where fast, friendly service and an exclusively Spanish wine list are the stocks-in-trade.
Step up this summer to try four of our favourites.
Sit on stools in the window as you watch people walk by on Loftus Lane. Conveniently situated at the back of Custom’s House in Circular Quay, this friendly bar is a bocadillo’s throw from Sydney Festival and Lunar New Year events. Try the freshly made tortilla, warm chorizo sausage and clever twists on traditional desserts like churros and blood orange sorbet.
6 Loftus Lane. email@example.com; deuxfreres.com.au
The open kitchen, slick interior and great service make this bar a city stalwart with those in the know. Stop by for a mini-martini on your lunch break, enjoy a fast plate standing up with colleagues, or settle into the coveted corner spot to while away an afternoon ordering plate, by plate.
The Ivy, 4 Palings Lane.(02) 9114 7368; merivale.com
Dine in a lively room where tables turn over fast and tiny plates set the palate on fire with flavour and quality. Don’t miss the Catalan Coca, sirloin on the bone (it’s all about the animal protein here) and spicy sherry cocktails.
The Coogee Pavilion, 130a Beach St, Coogee. (02) 9114 7383; merivale.com
Chef Lennox Hastie’s time in the foothills of the Basque country is on full display here. The place pays homage to the original pintxos created in San Sebastian and yet the menu shows a great deal of flair and bravery. Ask the sommelier to show you their excellent sherry list and settle in for a fun ride through the whole menu.
46-48 Albion St, Surry Hills. (02) 8275 8285; gildas.com.au
Frequently Asked Questions:
What’s best to drink with tapas and pintxos?
Try a dry, chilled sherry or vermouth on ice. Sherry is a great choice and contrary to popular belief, the majority of sherry styles are dry.
The chicest include some of the world’s driest finos and manzanillas, which are terrific with salty, fatty foods. These are aged “biologically” under a layer of yeast called flor, which essentially vacuum-seals the wine and allows it to age in the absence of oxygen. This is why some finos or manzanillas that have spent upwards of ten years in the barrel are still pale in colour.
What is a good sherry to try?
Order the excellent February 2023 bottling of Manzanilla sherry by Equipo Navazos. Served in a 375 ml bottle it’s a perfect food style that’s refreshing in summer. It has a potent, briny flavour and a deep, silky texture with plenty of sustained, tangy drive.
What is the best way to drink vermouth?
Vermouth is practically the national drink of Spain. For pintxos and tapas, vermouth is a perfectly bitter-sweet drink and a great way of cutting the richness and fattiness of the dried meats and cheese. This luscious dark red liquid is made from fortified wine and is served simply over ice with a green olive and a generous slice of orange.
Which vermouth should I order?
Antica Formula is a sure-fire winner. A big-production vermouth from Carpano, a famous producer, it is made from grapes from across Italy. It is vinified and blended with a wide array of botanicals and while it’s quite sweet, you can drink it as an aperitif over ice or with a splash of soda and a slice of orange. Locally you can try the Bold Red Vermouth by The Regal Rogue.
What is the best wine to order?
Albariño is a terrific white wine grown in Northwest Portugal and Galicia in Spain. It goes incredibly well with seafood and offers the palate clean flavours and rich, ripe fruit.
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