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Published January 2nd 2015
Tantalising Tapas awaits you at Alegrias in Balmain
Image courtesy of Alegrias
Alegria simply means 'Joy'; this combined with food is what eating Spain food is all about. Alegrias Spanish Tapas in Balmain is another wonderful addition to the much loved tapas scene. Alegrias caught my eye only by chance when I was reviewing a new bar called Wilhelminas which is at the entrance of the Workers Institute building on Darling Street Balmain. It is almost missed unless you enter the building and look down the hallway which leads to an inner courtyard area.
Courtyard entrance inside The Worker's Institute Building, Balmain
The interior is beautifully decorated with large crystal chandeliers, flickering tea lights. Elegant tables of dark polished mahogany and dark brown leather seating are a strong contrast against the ruby red velvet drapes framing tall windows. The whole effect personifies elegant authentic spanish design.
This tapas restaurant is not your usual rustic tavern like den you would expect, but a sensuous moody antidote to the common brightly lit open bars and restaurants that are in abundance today. The decor and atmosphere instantly transport you to Spain.
The owner, Kevin Bowen, is an Infantry Section Commander who currently works as a Military Instructor. He is a very fit young man, deployed to East Timor for several months and he has travelled the world many times for work and pleasure. Though he is not Spanish, he loves Spain with a passion. When he saw how authentic this restaurant was and also the wonderful devoted staff he jumped at the opportunity to buy it. His plans are to keep this venue as authentic as possible, ensuring patrons receive a unique experience when they visit.
Kevin Bowen far left with Flamenco Aust dancers - image courtesy Alegrias FB
This restaurant has several spaces to enjoy. The main level can be stunningly set with crystal candelabras for special dining experiences for larger groups. Alternatively similar elegant settings for smaller groups or couples are provided.
The upper level looks down over this imposing room. Here you can have a large group or function of up to 80 seated. If you wish to have a smaller group, you can also use one end as a lounging or standing area for pre-dinner drinks.
The outside courtyard is fabulous for casual drinks or eating with friends. There is also a totally separate private dining room that seats around 40-50 people, ideal for Birthdays, Hens or Bucks nights.
But of course let's not forget the food! I have to admit that for me I favour this style of eating over the full three course meal any day. It allows for more socialising while sampling a tempting palette of tidbits which is really the true spanish way of eating. Tapas originated as samples of delicacies for staving off the little hungers between meals but has become quite often a preferred way of dining for the Spanish and very popular here as well. It was a hard choice when we saw the menu. As we were only stopping by on our way to another venue we decided on a small selection but were delighted with our choices.
Special of the day Octopus & Seared Scallops wrapped in Serrano Ham $17.90
Of course it is important to drink Spanish wine to really indulge in the tapas way of eating, which is all about drinking and conversation with delicious food to keep you going. For those who love their vino, you will enjoy the extensive wine list housing a large collection of Spanish wines to try. If this doesn't take your fancy, their well stocked bar will surely provide your favourite tipple or a great alternative.
But there is more to this fabulous restaurant! They offer live music every Friday and Saturday evening; from subdued soloist guitar early in the evenings to live Flamenco dancing as the night moves on.
The exquisite ambience, the mouth watering tapas, live music and Flamenco dance shows make Alegrias an absolute must if you wish to enjoy some authentic Spanish cuisine and have a great night out. Put it on your to do list now!