As I’ve mentioned, the northern CBD dining scene has gone through a serious upgrade in the past year. One of the new additions is tapas bar Tapavino which, along with Cafe Nice, made Good Food’s list of ‘hot & new’ restaurants this year.
I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of tapas. Chorizo, prosciutto, meatballs – so much salty goodness! And I don’t think Sydney will ever get sick of tapas either – so many new Spanish restaurants/bars keep popping up! I’m still waiting for a special occasion excuse to check out MoVida Sydney.
Tapavino is actually a “Sherry Bar” with more than 300 Spanish wines and 80 Sherries on its list, but not being much of a drinker, I was there for the food.
As an appetiser, we ordered the smoked paprika popcorn ($4). Sounds really fun right? How often do you see popcorn on a restaurant menu?
This is the most ridiculous serving of popcorn I’ve ever seen. I could actually eat of all of this in one mouthful. Four dollars is not a lot of money but man, this really should have just come out as a complimentary bar snack. Come on, popcorn is like the cheapest thing ever, give us a a few handfuls at least! Seriously, tapas restaurants get away with so much – they must be the most profitable in the whole world.
At least this gave me the idea of sprinkling some paprika the next time I make a batch of microwave popcorn.
My friends didn’t really want to drink but I bullied them with “You can’t eat tapas and NOT drink Sangria!”. Sangria comes in white or red and is, as always, delicious!
Next, we had razor clams with jamon crisps, peas, broadbean and eshallots ($17). Call me ignorant, but I had no idea that clams even came in this shape!! This was really good, but how can anything with crispy jamon NOT be good?
Tapavino’s signature dish is the ‘PATA NEGRA’ iberico acorn fed jamón ($30). I wanted to try this so badly, but I was dining with friends who would think it was madness to spend 30 dollars on a plate of shaved ham. I may see them as “unadventurous” diners but really they’re just normal people, unlike me, who don’t squeal at the thought of acorn fed jamón.
So as a compromise, we ordered the jamón, mushroom & black truffled tart, shaved manchego ($15) – emphasis added. Three of my favourite things on the one plate…
Crispy mushroom tart with a really strong truffle flavour, a generous heap of jamon and melty, delicately shaved manchego cheese on top. Does it get much better than this? The answer is No. This is cielo on a placa. The best thing that has ever been served to me at a tapas restaurant. Next time – I want you all to myself.
For the rest of our meal we went for some tapas classics.
Pork, veal, jamon, & almond meatballs, tomato salsa and shaved manchego ($15). Mmmmm I appreciate the thoughtfulness of using three meats and almonds in a humble meatball – and these were tasty, but they still don’t trump my favourite ricotta meatballs at Sopra.
Braised chorizo, black olives, romescode tapavino, pan de casa ($16)
I’ve decided I prefer my chorizo grilled rather than braised – this was just too much. Too much salt (and my salt threshold is HIGH) and WAY too much bread!
For some outrageous reason, the menu does not include patas bravas, so we ordered some ordinary potatoes instead. No where near as good as potatoes covered in tomato sauce and aioli!
We finished our meal with a dulce de leche tart ($12). You put anything with dulce de leche on your menu, and I will order it. That’s how committed I am to my beloved DLD. This was basically perfect – look at that cream! So thick and luscious it holds its shape over the tart.
Tapavino is ideal for casual after-work catch-ups – whether you want dinner with a glass of sangria, or want to just line your stomach with some jamón and order mainly from the sherry menu. It’s interesting enough to set it apart from your run-of-the-mill Spanish Quarter tapas, and is more on the “authentic and creative” side rather than “expensive and a bit crazy” side (ie. Movida). And anywhere with a jamón bar gets a big tack from me. I will return for you, Pata Negra!