It was a cold winter's night and I was glad to get out of the bone-chilling cold wind and into an externally unassuming restaurant called Encasa Restaurante on Pitt Street in Sydney. I was immediately met with heated warmth and excited greetings in Spanish.
Pitt Street on Haymarket's end used to be a fairly uninviting street, but over time it reinvented itself as Thaitown and evolved into an eat and drink Sydney hotspot with more and more quality places opening up. Encasa is located just around the corner from the Capitol Theatre, making it an excellent choice for a pre-theatre meal.
I always like sharing a range of different dishes, flavours and textures in one meal sitting and tapas dining is the perfect way of eating for me. It was a hard choice when we saw the menu, but these are my top tapas picks from Encasa:
1. Sangria De La Casa - Spanish punch with a kick.
Encasa's special concocted red wine Sangria ($7.00/glass) is a must-order. I have tried many sangria drinks but I have always preferred Encasa's version. We usually started with a glass and without fail, we would order a jug of Sangria half way into the meal.
This Spanish red wine punch was sweet and easy to drink. It was the perfect drink to indulge all the savory tapas to come.
Any Spanish tapas meal would not be complete without the classic deep fried potato cubes - Bravas ($11.50). We fully enjoyed these crispy potato cubes topped with creamy garlic mayonnaise and spicy tomato salsa. I have tried many Spanish restaurant in Sydney and I have say, to date, Encasa's bravas is still the best.
5. Albondigas - Beef meatballs in almond sauce
Jumbo Meat Balls $14.00 ... These will give you that good home-cooked feeling.
These jumbo spicy beef meatballs ($14.00) come with a tomato-based almond sauce. It was a solid good comfort food full of flavours. My friend said it was the best tapas of the day and he was happy to order repeats.
6. Pinchos De Pollo - Grilled chicken skewers tossed in green mojo
Healthy grilled chicken skewers with mojo sauce $14.00
These grilled chicken skewers ($14.00) presented themselves on half dinner plate sized portion served with vibrant green mojo sauce and a lemon wedge. They were deliciously tender on the inside but too lightly seasoned on the outside for my liking. My other dining companion actually flavoured this tapas above all.
7. Vieiras En Azafran - Scallops in the shell with saffron, shallots and cream
After some meaty tapas, my eyes lit up at the sight of scallops in shells ($16.00) drenched in a yellow saffron, shallot and cream sauce. These bite-sized scallops were juicy and tender to the bite. My palate danced at the wonderful flavours and textures. This was my absolute favourite tapas and I would order a plain bread roll just to mop up all the delicious sauce.
8. Churros De Chocolate - Chocolate stuffed churros with dipping white chocolate
To end a hearty tapas meal, we were eager to try one of the national desserts of Spain, the Churros. Encasa tweaked the Spanish fried dough pastry sticks slightly. These churros ($11.00) were stuffed with chocolate and comes with a small pot of delectable white chocolate dipping sauce.
It was a divine way to finish the meal.
Encasa's tapas used to be the cheapest and most tastiest in Sydney. However, with the recent renovation and expansion of their Deli business, the tapas prices have been noticeably adjusted.
The service was generally polite and attentive, but the hustle and bustle between kitchen and dining tables can be quite noisy and disruptive specially during Friday nights and the weekends. In addition, the timing of food arrival lacks orderly co-ordination.