Lots of little bits of food in lots of little dishes rock the house.
This month's Filete e Chicas Martes had a distinctly Spanish flavour as we hauled our castanets to the city's centre for jug after jug of deep and fruity sangria. And a bit of a nosh. And a little bit more sangria.
3rd April 2007 – En Casa Restaurant, Pitt St Sydney.
In the words of Chris Martin, it was all yellow.
Bright mustard-coloured walls encase En Casa, its dark polished floor, its long shiny tables and its awesome, nose-hair-curling, saliva-squirting garlicky funk. The front room contains numerous smaller tables, with the pizza-making hombre glassed into his little pizza zone, and the main kitchen at the back. Turn the corner and there's a room with larger, longer tables for groups, banquets, and rugby teams, all presided over by the standard decorative motifs of Dali, Miro, Picasso, and big fat guitars. And everyone's favourite: Spanish bagpipes.
At first glance the toilets were unimpressive, but I took a closer look. Running short of paper products at home? Then this is the place. Roll upon roll of soft loo paper and paper hand-towels are piled shoulder-high, with a conveniently-sized window over the basin to facilitate thieving by uni students who spent all their money on beer and crystal meth. And the water in the toilet bowl? As blue as the Mediterranean.
The lovely Tegan organised this month's Steak N' Chicks Tuesday, and it must be noted that she was the first to actually draw up an Excel spreadsheet to do so. Geek or Goddess? You decide. SnC virgins this time were Amanda, Olivia, and Tash, with Tegan, Me, Alex, Claire, Alyson, Angela and Elly helping to make their first time as gentle as possible.
Clientele mostly consisted of couples in the front room, with groups and families in the back room, making it noisier and dramatically more interesting. Not much evidence of the ubiquitous Sydney backpacker despite the restaurant's location, but we picked what definitely looked like a footy dinner – 2 tables of burly blokes whose combined shoulder-width left little room for sunlight. Hi, boys.
Staff in the kitchen were an interesting multinational mix, although wait-staff appeared uniformly Iberian, uniformly attractive, and, although their warm welcomes and decent service may contradict the fact, uniformly enveloped by an air of what Claire and I dubbed 'flamenco disdain'.
Don Quixote would sell out Sancho Panza for this food. I'm not going to lie – this is some of the best tapas I've had, mostly because it was fresh, understated, and not tongue-shrivellingly salty. In a nutshell (although none of the food was served in one):
Olives: subtle, not too briny, plump and tasty.
Sardines: fresh, chunky, fishy, and fantastically garlicky
Garlic pizza: salt on toast, but surprisingly morish
Chilli Prawns: doused with tomato and chilli, the perfect amount of kick and a wondrous plate-wiping sauce
Baby Octopus: charred, lemony octagonal heaven – every tentacle wrapped itself around my heart
Garlic Prawns: hot, saucy and orgasmic – halitosis never felt so good
Mussels : so fresh they almost wiped your palate clean – subtle tomato and garlic sauce
Garlic Mushrooms: two of the best things in the world, together in a clay pot, then in my mouth
Potato Tortilla: quite bland, but well-timed for sauce-mopping purposes
Sangria: I've had good sangria, I've had bad sangria, and I've had woeful sangria. It's all still sangria, and it's always still fun to slurp your way around your eighth glass trying to get the last bit of apple out.
The Summarising Bit
Don't breathe on anyone for three days, except to tell them about this tapas. Or to tell them they have revolting body odour, because then they deserve it. Seriously, pant-wettingly good food, and bloody cheap, too. Get your burro in there.
Mention must also be made of the Return Of The Great Limp-Pumping Elixir (see Steak N' Chicks Tuesday #6). This is, for the uninitiated, lip gloss that stings like bejeezus, but makes your lips swell for about an hour, giving you that just-pashed-a-man-with-stubble look that drives 'em crazy. Beauty is pain, people. You heard it here second.