In this edition:
- Festive Glamour: When the festive season throws you an occasion, you need to glam it up.
- Andrew McUtchen looks for fun in cricket with former Australian cricketer Damien Fleming.
- Take a look at our Christmas Gift Guide.
There are other desserts listed: a trilogy of chocolate, and a banana flan among them but given its a Spanish restaurant, a plate of the countrys famed doughnuts seemed a fitting finale.
They didnt disappoint, arriving fat and fluffy and begging to be dip-dip-dunked deep into the pot of rich, melting chocolate. The combination of cinnamon, rich chocolate and light pastry was enough to fuel a second wind in my previously satiated dining companion. A good sugar hit will do that.
At two days shy of its fourth birthday, Black Bull Tapas is heaving on a Friday night, the dining room feeling more aligned to a dark and moody restaurant in Barcelona as it becomes busier and rowdier.
A low wooden ceiling in the front section, exposed-brick and stained-glass windows make for a festive and comfortable space.
At the rear, curved booth seating and chequered flooring is a nostalgia trip for those who once came, for the better part of 30 years, to The Pancake Kitchen for pancakes with melting ice-cream on top.
Vibrant patterned tiles on the stairs and behind the central wooden bar are a salute to the previous Mexican restaurant. Theyre all vastly different, yet somehow all these elements meld seamlessly.
Owners and husband-and-wife duo Daniel and Tamara Brehaut head up the kitchen and front of house respectively. Service is smooth(ish) until the restaurant swells with hungry punters and our waitress is left on her first night to fend for herself. She did brilliantly considering and the meals came thick and fast, but getting a peek at a dessert menu was challenging and paying the bill was even harder.
It gave me time to reassess the wine list, which was made up of a crowd-pleasing selection of local wines and a smattering of Spanish varietals. The white sangria is my pick for a pre-dinner tipple: a lovely combination of white wine, juice and brandy with slices of apple and white grapes bobbing under the ice.
The menu captures the Spanish sentiment with a clear nod to Daniels training in classic French cooking. Included in the tapas are lamb empañadas with romesco sauce, cheese croquettes, and pressed pork belly but I skipped straight to the chunky grilled chorizo. I would have liked more fire from the sliced sausage but the mix of slow-cooked capsicum, tomato and onion samfaina it came on was like a friendly hug.
The twice-roasted half quail was, for $9 per tapa, easily an entrée size. The sweet, moist meat was heightened by an elegant dollop of lemony aïoli and a crunchy herb-laden arancini. It was a highlight.
Rolls of generously sliced air-cured Serrano ham were reinvented here, teamed with juicy sweet balls of rockmelon and served artistically piled on a slice of char-grilled white bread. A winning combination of sweet and salt, possibly not to everyones liking, it was a real conversation starter.
A plump disc of beef cheek was a delight, the meat rich and forgiving, having been cooked slowly for 12 hours. It sat surrounded by sweet, smooth parsnip purée and a scattering of multicoloured summer vegetables that didnt add much other than colour, and a rich jus.
The mains, all $32, delivered the pièce de résistance. Steaming paella was served in a sizzling cast-iron pan that was brimming with the flavours and smells of Spain. Grilled strips of calamari, thick prawns, clams and meaty mussels twisted and turned between chunks of chorizo, peas and wonderfully light saffron-soaked rice. Each mouthful mingled heady scents of wine and the ocean with chilli and meaty chorizo.
Sharing between the two of us, I went back for a second, third, and final helping before the pan was bare. It pushed me over the edge but, hey, its a Spanish restaurant. Olé!
eat thisBlack Bull Tapas Bar & Restaurant
48 Moorabool Street, GeelongCuisine Spanish Head chef Daniel Brehaut Owners Tamara and Daniel Brehaut Prices Tapas $9; entrées $18; mains $32; dessert $12 Open Monday-Friday noon-2pm; Monday-Saturday 5.30pm-late Phone 5229 6100 The Verdict Put on your list