Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cantina Bar + Grill - Darlinghurst

Cantina Bar + Grill

We visited Cantina Bar + Grill for a friends birthday. For a group booking of 8, we were forced to choose from one of three banquet menus. This was fortunate and unfortunate as it meant that we didn't have to spend hours pouring over the menu and deciding what we want, but also, we couldn't order some items that we really wanted to try (eg. paella).

Nonetheless, the $40 set menu was ordered and whilst we were thinking of ordering items on top of this menu, the nice friendly waiter advised us to wait til we were 1/2 way through the courses before deciding (wise advice). Lo and behold, we were stuffed by the set menu alone and additional items were not required.

So the first course of this set was a dip plate served with grilled olive sourdough bread. If you have been following my blog, you would know I am a picky eater. Hence, of the four dip choices, I tested the white bean and the chickpea, but left the beetroot, pumpkin and eggplant ones alone. My company, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed these dips and smashed it completely.

Dips with olive sourdough bread

The next to arrive on our table was the baby spinach salad. Comprised of baby spinach, roast pumpkin, goats cheese, grilled capsicum and pinenuts, it again, contained some forbidden items. Nonetheless, just the baby spinach and the pinenuts were tasty and flavoursome enough for me! The salad was definately one of the favourites of the nite, with my friends wishing there were more goats cheese~

Baby Spinach Salad with pumpkin, goats cheese, capsicum and pinenuts

Pan-fried haloumi served with char grilled marinated red peppers were absolutely delish! The soft, almost mushy, capsicum complemented the solid texture of the cheese well and the aromas were a great mix. Definately a dish worth trying.

Pan-fried Haloumi with red peppers

The chickpea salad looked amazing when it was first placed on the table. Chickpea mixed with cucumber, peppers, tomato and manchego cheese piled the plate. It didn't take me long to realise - chickpea is only nice in moderation. It is so completely completely filling. The texture of chickpea is so floury and dense - you really cannot eat lots of this (or else it becomes quite bland).

Chickpea Salad

Next came the potatoes (Patatas Bravas). These cruchy golden cubes of potato were soft and fluffy on the inside. Topped with onion, garlic and tomato sauce, they surprisingly bought along a touch on the chilli side - yet were absolutely delish! (maybe I'm just biased as I love potatoes).

Potatas Bravas

The most most awesomeness dish of the night were the pan-fried mushies. Tossed with garlic, parsley and jerez, every mushie was super soaked with flavour which just exploded in your mouth (or maybe that's just the oils). Health-issues aside, these were just super super tastey!!!

Pan-fried mushrooms with garlic, parsley and jerez

The dusted calamari served with chilli and lime mayo probably could have been a bit better. They weren't bad - but they were not spectacular. Crunchy and slightly chilli, at times I felt as though I was just eating batter as the calamari were so tiny.

Calamari with chilli and lime mayo

Grilled Spanish Chorizo lay ontop of romesco sauce. Being slightly oiled out by this stage, I decided to taste the chorizo withough immercing it into the oily sauce. The chorizos were... umm... normal? Just like any chorizo you would expect at any other spanish place.

Grilled Spanish Chorizo

Lastly, there were the meatballs which were made of lamb and pork and topped with garlic and tomato sauce. I can't really say much about these (as I don't do lamb) but the feedback I got from my friends was that it was filling.

Lamb and Pork Meatballs

In all, after my past experiences at banquet menus, I was genuinely surprised that it was a decent meal! The food was good and it was enough for my company of eight to walk out of the restaurant holding our stomachs. Our waiter was nice and friendly (I wish I could say the same for the manager). But in all, it was a chillaxy vibey spanish restaurant serving tapaz style food which left us full and satisfied.

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 28.5/40

Cantina Bar + Grill
245 Oxford Street
NSW, 2010
Tel: (02) 9357 3033

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