Spanish food was a late discovery of mine, I had no idea there was an entire cuisine based on garlic and olive oil – two of my favourite things, and from the first time I tried it, I knew that it was a match made in heaven.
Encasa is an established tapas restaurant near Central Station, near all the backpacker lodges and Thai restaurants on Pitt Street and they are always busy, which is a pretty good indication about the quality of their dishes.
Tonight I am out with my high school friends, bonding over food as usual and we decide to order a bunch of tapas to share and a pizza to fill us up, as well as some sangria, naturally.
We start with patatas bravas, a dish I order at every Spanish restaurant that serves it because it is the perfect blend of crunchy diced potatoes, smothered in spicy tomato salsa and aioli. It’s like a fancier version of wedges with sour cream and sweet chilli, and its a fairly decent serving for 6 girls to split as we wait for our next dish.
Patatas Bravas – $9.50
My friend loves her chorizo, so we also get a dish of grilled chorizo which is a Spanish sausage, it is smokey but nothing out of the ordinary in terms of flavour. We notice at this stage that our waiter has forgotten our Sangria and we chase him up to bring it to us. It’s worth the wait, it is on the sweet side but it’s a refreshing mix of red wine, lemonade and chopped fruit and goes very well with the food.
Grilled Chorizo – $9.50
Next up is the hot garlic prawns in olive oil – we ordered the mains size but were disappointed that there were only around 8 prawns, considering the price of the dish. Still, this is another one of my favourite dishes, with all the fried garlic pieces generously scattered and the prawns sizziling in the hot oil, it tastes absolutely amazing. But looking at all the olive oil left over at the end is a bit offputting, I must admit.
Garlic Prawns – $23
We also got the garlic mushrooms, which are cooked in a similar way to the garlic prawns, with olive oil and plenty of garlic but the mushrooms absorb much more of the olive oil taste than the prawns did.
Garlic Mushrooms – $8
Our final dish was the chicken pesto pizza, which I forgot to take a photo of before we gobbled it down but it was a great way to fill us up, because none of us were full from the tapas yet and the chicken was nice and tender.
Spanish food is fantastic for sharing, but it is not for the fainthearted because they use very strong flavours (especially garlic, if you hadn’t noticed already) and can be a bit overpriced compared to some other cuisines, but it’s a nice treat every once in awhile. Encasa itself is very popular, so I would suggest making a booking, particularly if you’re in a large group.
423 Pitt Street
Haymarket, Sydney, NSW 2000
(02) 9211 4257
Open Mon-Sat, 9-6pm