Harry presents: Tapas in Sydney

Overpriced and crap.

Is there a tapas place that actually embodies the spirit of what tapas actually is, ie cheap finger food while you drink and chat?

I don’t think so. For some reason everyone thinks tapas should be overpriced and an all hoitytoity playground for self-consciously dressed people to dick swing.

Last night I went to Subsolo at 161 King St, Sydney.

$30 each got four people:
A beef skewer with five bits. Not top grade beef. Some marinade.
A chicken skewer of six bits. This was quite nice.
Two very small slices of french stick.
A small bowl of salad leaves presumably so we could put meat bits on-a-bed-of salad. Also included was one half artichoke and ONE green olive.
Good sized platter of indifferent paella including four mussels and about six prawns.
Bowl of green beans with onion.
Bowl of potatas bravas (chopped baked potato with a chili tomato sauce).

What a bunch of cheap-skates. The cheapest vegetables in the world, and not even lots of them (to paraphrase a Woody Allen joke).

As bowls were being cleared we started asking if the main was coming.
No, that was not the entree. It was the whole meal.

What sort of a tapas place does not have:
a) bowls of a variety of olives
b) bread and oil to dip it in
c) chorizo
d) mushrooms for anybody but particularly when we requested vego options.
d) something fancy that makes you go “ooh! Haven’t had that before”?

I’ll tell you what sort of place: a shit one.

Don’t go.

Hopefully the new winebar licenses will see real tapas come to Sydney instead of this overpriced crap. It’s meant to be seasonal peasant/fisherman’s food you bunch of pretentious dickheads!
if you don’t have salt and pepper whitebait (the fish is $6 a kilo) when it’s in season then you deserve to be firebombed.

Unimpressed, Marrickville.

17 thoughts on “Harry presents: Tapas in Sydney

  1. Ah, yes the repackaging of peasant food into overpriced poseur fare is something that irks me as well, especially when combined with ‘too cool for school’ service (I use ‘service’ advisedly). I suppose they’re relying on people being ignorant about food, or perhaps it is they who are ignorant about food? Only one olive between four people? They need a smack for that.

  2. Gawd, you think it’s bad in Sydney, try it in Perth. Or rather, don’t, unless you are a mining executive with a platinum visa card.

    I am not exaggerating when I say Perth is the most expensive place to eat in the world (even Londoners whinge about our prices) and what with tapas being the new black now we have the world’s most expensive tapas. (And don’t even get me started on pub grub! It’s a disgrace when a steak sandwich costs $20, a national bloody disgrace.)

    Anyway, so far, I have been to three tapas places in Perth and each one was outrageously overpriced. The cheapest, the Gypsy Tapas Bar in Fremantle, also features dreadlocked people playing the bongo drums which I would pay to avoid.

    But anyway, for a set tapas menu for four people and a few jugs of sangria we were stung to the tune of $220. The set menu was very heavy on chickpeas and light on just about everything else.

    At the Pony Club, which is in Mt Lawley, the food was v. good but again we paid $180 for two and we didn’t even get pissed.

    They do at least have decent service there which is rare in Perth because we have no poor starving students to mistreat in hospitality jobs, they are all making squazillions on the mines instead.

    At Duende in Leederville I had a birthday dinner a few years ago and I don’t know what it cost, but I do remember the cheapest wine was $50 a bottle and sangria was $12 a glass.

  3. Once, there was a dream that was Tapas. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile.

    we paid $180 for two and we didn’t even get pissed

    I’ve got a devil set aside for the Pony Club, Kate. Don’t worry about that.

  4. well, I had pretty amazing tapas in Darwin, with cocktails that were SO GOOD that it was possible to completely forget the price. And I think the tapas dishes were each cheaper than the cocktails.

  5. I hear you Harry.

    What we need is two distinct levels of price/quality. There’s nothing wrong with expensive, as long as you get what you pay for.

    For example, the grossly expensive Movida (on some little lane btw Flinders St and Flinders Lane near the Forum) does at least have phenomenal food. I was literally amazed by probably half the dishes, and at least impressed with the rest.

    But yeah, FFS – even with the panoply of pub grub in Melbourne, I don’t know of anywhere that’ll treat tapas as what it was meant to be – cheap, tasty, salty accompaniment for copious alcohol. A spud tortilla, pulpitos fritos, olives various, these things aren’t difficult.

  6. Hear, hear! I’m glad you all agree with me.
    Especially considering how dirt cheap and awesome the Thai food is here, tapas is a crime.
    And I refuse to believe that Thai requires any less skill than tapas.

  7. Have you looked at David Thompson’s Thai Food? There’s a cuisine that requires the kind of preparation that only a Royal court full of indentured slaves can offer.

  8. Bit late to this one, but I can’t let this tripe go unchallenged.

    See, the problem here is that Harry seems to be labouring under the mistaken impression that Subsolo is one of those cheap & cheerful tapas bars where peasant nosh is dished out at reasonable prices to impoverished students in boho enclaves*. NTTAWWT, but Subsolo is actually a RESTAURANT. How he missed this critical piece of information given the ostentatiously yuppified atmos is beyond me, but there you go. Yes, it’s expensive, but the food is good, there’s a great variety of dishes and the head waitress has a truly magnificent arse.

    I recommend the Degustation Menu #3.

    Speaking of Iberianish cuisine, I can also recommend Churrasco in Coogee, which does all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ. Take your favourite vegetarian to show them what they’re missing.

    *Usually just down the road from that dodgy Nepalese noshery.

  9. Oh when my baby, oh when my baby smiles at me I eat churrasco… etc.
    Churrasco is Latin American. For the Iberian grilled chicken experience you want Silva’s in Petersham, which is conveniently located across the road from the best Spanish/Portuguese bottleshop in Sydney.
    Funnily enough F. I’m heading out to Coogee later this month to visit just that restaurant, after ages of meaning-to and wanting-to. ANZAC Parade is such a barrier to gastronomy.



  10. Funny isn’t it? You can wrap most appalling dining events in the pita of “a good yarn” (one day I’ll tell you about my night at Republic…) but crap tapas is just too pathetic to be dragged there.
    Add the tapas bar in the first block on the left heading up Glebe Point Road in Sydney to the Not to Be Attempted List. Not only stingey but really badly cooked. Really really badly.
    But if you’re in the Southern Highlands, try the tapas at the bottom pub in Mittagong (as opposed to the top pub). The chef there was at the Spanish Club, and does the best tapas I’s has ever had. At stingy country prices too. As well as a full deep fried Ozzie ozzie ozzie pub menu. Poor bastard. Pop in, eat, delight & give the poor bugger some moral support.

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