Locals and visitors are somewhat spoilt for restaurant choices when visiting Randwick in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. The area in Randwick known locally as The Spot, itself has around 20 restaurants ranging from Thai to Italian to Japanese. So how does a restaurant stand out from the crowd? By offering a dining experience that’s a little bit special.
Spanish Fly has that something special. Its tapas menu is a fusion of Spanish and Australian flavours with portion sizes that border on the larger size for tapas which is great for sharing. That’s probably where the Spanish influence stops as the interior is modern with lots of dark wood, a long well stocked bar, subtle lighting and on this occasion, a soothing 60’s soul soundtrack to dine to. We arrived early on a Sunday evening and it was starting to fill up with people out and about enjoying the lovely sunny weather.
Seated inside we ordered a couple of cocktails whilst mulling over the menu. The thing that strikes us about the menu is it is imaginative, with twists on the usual tapas classics. We ordered four dishes – zuchinni flowers filled with pumpkin and ricotta in a red pepper sauce; haloumi cheese grilled with lemon and parsley and topped with strips of marinated red peppers; paella balls filled with prawns, saffron and chorizo and the fillet steak mishkaki (African style grilled marinated meat) skewered with red peppers, onions and horseradish. Vegetarians are well catered for with around half a dozen options.
It wasn’t long before our dishes started to arrive, all looking vibrant and fresh. The zuchinni flowers, coated in a crisp batter, had retained their crunchiness, with the pumpkin and ricotta puree providing a great textural contrast as well as being flavoursome. The red pepper sauce added some sweetness to the dish.
The haloumi was lovely and crispy on the outside but still moist, with a lemony tang. If you’ve ever had haloumi you know that the taste can be a bit monotonous after the first couple of pieces, but the addition of the marinated red peppers changed all that, adding a bit of variety.
The paella balls were perfect bite size pieces. The combined flavours of the prawns, saffron and chorizo work well together with the moist rice, the outer crispy coating and lemon infused dressing.
The skewered fillet steak mishkaki was wonderfully chargrilled and tender to taste but unfortunately not tender to cut through, a steak knife would have been handy. The horseradish sauce is the perfect accompaniment to the beef.
We were feeling quite content after our four dishes but in need of a sweet fix. We ordered a couple of glasses of wine from the perfectly formed wine list whilst we tried to decide on our desserts. It was such a hard choice as they all sounded fantastic and again very imaginative. We opted for the citrus tart with passionfruit syrup and macadamia nut ice cream and the warm sticky fig and date pudding with butterscotch sauce and honeyed mascarpone.
The sticky fig and date pudding was quite sweet but that’s what you expect when you order a dessert like this. It was perfectly moist and the honeyed mascarpone was a nice change from the usual cream or ice cream. The citrus tart was pleasantly tangy with the sweetness coming from the passionfruit syrup. The ice cream was loaded with crunchy macadamias.
Throughout our meal the staff were attentive but not intrusive. They seemed to work in perfect harmony, each knowing their role and not appearing stressed out. It makes for a chilled vibe.
Price wise, not being BYO increases the bill a bit but we relish in the opportunity to try new wines, and if you plan it right and visit during cocktail happy hour, it's not such a strain on the wallet.
The Spanish Fly offers innovative and tasty tapas in a relaxed atmosphere, perfect place to hang out at with friends. No doubt we'll be dropping by again soon.
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The Spanish Fly, 35 St Pauls Street, Randwick, Sydney
Tel: 02 9326 4417
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 5pm-11pm; Sat/Sun: 12noon-11pm