Following on from our epic breakfast at Encasa Deli last Saturday and after watching a movie in the city we headed along to try Encasa Restaurant for the lunch sitting. It’s located at the Chinatown end of Pitt Street and I have walked past the place about a gazillion times over their nine years of operation but never thought of actually eating there, that is until I scored an invite to attend. So Steve and I had a Spanish tapas feast of epic proportions thanks to the amazing staff at Encasa and while I may not have made plans to attend over the last nine years I have now made plans to attend it again in the future, this place blew my culinary tastebuds off the tongue, it was just brilliant.
Encasa Restaurant will easily make my Top 10 restaurants in Sydney, the flavours and freshness of the product was stunning. Simple Spanish food made incredibly well and that is all that matters, great product and not over faffing it. We were spoiled rotten.
The venue appears small from the outside but it is HUGE. As you walk in you are greeted by a reception area/ pizza oven area, in winter you will want to sit as close as you can but in summer, or if writing a review on a hot Saturday, you do not want to sit anywhere near it. We decided to sit in the small front section as there is a large window on to the street front and I could get better light for the pictures, while the pics were looking great Steve and I started sweating profusely and after four tapas the waiter suggested we move into the centre of the venue, directly under cool calm and comfortable air-conditioning. In the centre section of the venue is lots of tables in various sizes and a full bar and counter area, it then goes around the corner to the left to what we determined was the place to put the large groups. It is ideal, rowdier groups around the corner and quaint dining up the front.
As this was an invited review we agreed venue should cook for us what they thought we would love and what would also look good for photos so they started by bringing us a jug of sangria, always a great way to get me started :). Following the sangria was a feast of epic proportions. We started with the Pinchos Morunos: Prime lamb fillet skewers marinated in Moroccan spices ($16-), if you look at the skewer pic above you will note it’s four skewers at $4- each and it may sound pricey but these were the best lamb skewers I have ever had, the meat was like butter, it fell off the skewer and melted in the mouth with an accompaniment of the most amazing spices. Considering I recently reviewed a place that specialises in lamb skewers and was completely unimpressed it was remarkable to taste one from a place that does not specialise in lamb skewers making them spectacularly. These were my third favourite dish and Steve’s favourite. These were served with Bravas: Fried potato with aioli and spicy tomato salsa ($11.50) and these were superb potato “gem-like” with an impressive garlic aioli, we inhaled these.
Then we got the Croquetas ($12-), a special and currently their most popular item. These are a jamon (ham) croquettes and they were so creamy and totally morish. These made Steve’s top three dishes but I am not sure why I am rating dishes, everything was sublime.
Following the croquetas came the Gambas al Ajillo: Peeled king prawns in sizzling garlic oil and chilli ($16-) and OMFG these were amazing, I could have ordered ten bowls of these and then just sat there getting all garlicky in a blissful haze, hey, I’m single, these lips were kissing no-one and they were cooked to absolute perfection, these are a MUST ORDER DISH at Encasa. I tweeted the pic of them below with the three left in the bowl and was asked “how do you divvy up three prawns between two people'” and my response was “I had the bigger knife.” And that is how I feel about the dish – don’t stand between me and it :).
We also indulged in the Chorizo a la Plancha: Grilled Spanish sausage ($12.50) and while the chorizo was delicious it was a standard chorizo dish that was overshadowed by the big flavours we had indulged in already, this would have been the dish to have first to get us started on the Spanish indulgence train.
Our next tapas was the Papas a la Riojana: Rioja style potatoes with chorizo ($16-) – for me this was like the chorizo dish, beautifully flavoursome with balanced flavours but it paled to what we had eaten, this would make an ideal winter dish, along the lines of a hearty chorizo stew.
Then the below dish arrived, it looked like some kind of scallop on chickpeas but it was in fact Butifarra con Judias: Grilled butifarra (Catalonian white sausage), white beans, garlic and parsley ($17-) and this was my favourite dish of the meal. That butifarra was like a butter meat, so tender, so subtle and while I was dreading the “chickpea-like” beans I inhaled them all, this dish is a dark horse of the menu, it reads as nothing too much and not that exciting but I clapped the plate and suggest you add this to your list as the next MUST EAT DISH at Encasa.
And just when we thought we would die from overindulgence the hollow leg kicked into action for dessert. Below is the Natillas de Coco Y Manzana: Coconut custard, apple and lemon sorbet ($10-). We both loved this dish, the lemon sorbet is one of the best I have ever eaten and the coconut custard was delicious but we both believed the elements do not all work together in harmony, the coconut custard worked well with the apple but the lemon sorbet was too different and did not compliment. It even sits in isolation on the plate. BUT – I would still order this again for the sorbet.
And we finished with Encasa’s Crema Catalana: Catalan crème brulee ($9-) and I have learned that Catalan is a Romance language named for its origins in Catalonia and like all good crème brulees you will fall in love with it, more so if you eat it with someone with a heavy Spanish romantic accent. It had a different signature flavour that separates it from your standard crème brulee giving it a slight savoury element – loved it. This one demands an aperitif with it or a nice coffee. We also both insisted on cracking the shell – half each.
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) ate as a guest of the venue but to be frank, if it was shit I would happily tell you as such.