Balcon – the new spanish from Tapavino
It’s a crappy mid-week winter evening as we search through a building site for the door to new spanish restaurant Balcon. So it is a pleasure to step through into a warm welcoming room with the substantial wine cellar apparently stored in the floor to ceiling glass walls. There is a large outdoor balcony as well, which will be brilliant in nice weather, and some impressively hardy souls are out under the heat lamps even on this wet and windy night.
We hit the wine list first, getting some good recommendations from our waitress. Everything here is spanish, and mostly not known to us so a good time to experiment. The 2014 Cunas Davia Treixadura from Ribeiro was a new wine for me, fresh and fruity with a nice acidity. Then we start on the snacks. The salt cod cigarillo is a nice bite with the wine. The wild shiitake looks beautiful but is surprisingly bland to taste, and hard to find the prawn oil. The small slices of pigs ear and pimento on potato is a good nostalgic dish, like a miniature version of the stuffed baked potatoes that were ubiquitous in the 1980’s.
Sampling the menu
By this stage I’ve moved onto a heavier, more structured white, the 2014 Lagar de Costa Albarino. We cannot do Spanish without some tasty Jamon Iberica of course, and the chicken liver pate is rich and delicious (and french?). Similarly the poached octopus is a nice dish but not a standout for me.
I’m usually a bit dubious of king prawns as I find them less tasty that smaller prawns, but these are perfectly firm flesh with the oomph of red pepper and lemons. They are also finger friendly as they come split down the middle making it very easy to extract the prawn meat cleanly.
Now I’m well into my 2007 QP Tempranillo Reserva Rioja Raynelo. To finish off our proteins we share the beautifully slow cooked braised lamb shoulder, with a balance of acidity from the honey wine and olives. Melt in the mouth, this was my dish of the night.
Finishing on a savoury note
We could easily be satiated at this point, but the waitress smoothly sells us on the cheese too, and we give no resistance. The most interesting for me was the one day old cheese made in the restaurant with honey and lavender, so fresh and delicious. We also had a tasty cheddar-ish cheese and a mild blue, except there was no blue in the cheese at all so that was a bit boring.
What’s your favourite new restaurant, or latest discovery?
Best bits: The lamb shoulder, the spanish wine list
Worst bits: the lack of blue in the cheese
Where am I: Balcon, 17 Bligh St, Sydney 2000, Australia