Thursday, November 22, 2012

El Bulli: Bigger shoes to fill

Earlier this year Surry Hills restaurant veteran El Bulli Spanish Tapas moved into larger premises on the same stretch of Elizabeth Street, near Cleveland Street.

Expanding at least three-fold in size, the new El Bulli now easily caters for groups, which Saturday nights seem to attract. There's also now a full-size bar, live music and a private room which could host separate functions altogether.

Ensalada de tomate - Layers of vine ripened tomatoes, Spanish onion and fresh basil with
vinaigrette dressing
Booked for the early sitting (and needing to be out by 8.30pm), our large-ish Saturday night group left decision-making to one person for ease, given the dauntingly lengthy menu that's broken down into nibbles, skewers, small dishes, mains, salads and so on.

The rest of us focused on the sangria and earthy Doña Paula Los Cardos malbec, and not the neighbouring hen's party. From the ensalada section of the menu, the tomato salad of sliced tomato and Spanish onion was a healthy start.

Albondigas de Paella - Traditional paella with chicken and chorizo, rolled into balls,
fried and  drizzled with aioli
The paella balls were an interesting addition to the tapas menu (hello arancini?), with saffron-spiced rice innards to the crisp crumb and aioli topping.

Gambas al Ajillo - Pan fried prawns in garlic and oil with a hint of chilli oil
It's hard to go past prawns at tapas, especially when they're piping hot, huge, tail-on specimens with loads of garlic and parsley.

Champiñones al Ajillo - Sauteed mushrooms in garlic, parsley, white wine and olive oil
Then came the biggest dish of mushrooms I've ever seen, but particularly so in a tapas setting. I was glad we had a large group to polish off the fresh mushrooms, fragrant with garlic and parsley.

Albondigas al Tuco - Traditional Spanish meatballs served with tomato salsa
Albondigas meat balls are my must-order at tapas, as filling as they can be. There's something about minced beef in a rich tomato sauce that makes the likes of bolognese sauce and albondigas a winner.

Chorizo a la Sidra - Pan fried chorizo and Spanish onion in a cider glaze
I wouldn't be surprised if chorizo is Australia's most popular sausage now, having well and truly taken off and invaded menus and dishes of all sorts.

Personally, I like them sliced and well-charred while the version cooked with cider makes it a less intense porky experience.

Asparagus con jamon - Asparagus wrapped in jamon with balsamic glaze
The artful presentation of the asparagus wrapped in jamon cured ham somewhat made up for the petite serving.

We also had quite the sizable pot of nicely cooked mussels in a tomato and parsley sauce, and patatas bravas which were not crisp and completely unexpectedly, crazy spicy.

It was a nice surprise seeing the tapas dishes go so far in a group setting, with some extra-huge sized tapas dishes like the mushroom and even the mussels satisfying the group.

Churros to share was the call from the dessert fiends, served warm with ice cream, piped dulce de leche caramel, and a shower of sugar and cinnamon.

The new, bigger El Bulli seems to be operating smoothly in its new, bigger digs and certainly taking to the challenge of groups, hen's nights and bigger shoes to fill.

El Bulli Spanish Tapas on Urbanspoon


gaby @ lateraleating said...

Food looks great, and generous servings for a group.

Not Quite Nigella said...

Good to know that it's bigger-it was quite small and so hard to get in before although we really enjoyed our meal there :)

IanL said...

A few of my friends have opened up a bar called The Wanderer in the old El Bulli location across the street - you should check it out sometime!

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

More space is always good! Everything sure does look tasty. I've only ever had their food at the Taste of Sydney. Don't know why I haven't made the trek to the actual restaurant yet!

Italian Food Recipes said...

the food was delicious, there is nothing more delicious than the food in italy country. let visiting my blog : )


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