Oh, how I adore Spain! I lust after it, hunger for it, I dream of those deliriously drunken months I once spent drifting from town to town and bar to bar. So when I say The Carrington brings back Spanish memories, I mean it as a compliment.
The Carrington used to be an inconspicuous Surry Hills pub but it’s been redone into a Spanish-style bar by the guys behind The Norfolk and The Flinders – and they’ve done an eerily good job replicating the feel of a down-to-earth Spanish drinking hole. The Moorish tiles and little tapas counter (complete with stools and glass counter) indicate someone’s been doing their homework, and the soul music, black arches and oddball paintings (most of which are still lifes, although one is downright pornographic) add to the type of eclectic atmosphere that reminds me of Almodovar movies and Penelope Cruz. Then again, I’ve been single for so long that everything reminds me of Penelope Cruz.
What’s surprising is they’ve managed to recreate this vibe while retaining some of the Carrington’s original features, such as the old green pub tiles that occasionally show up inside.
I’m here on a Saturday afternoon with the Amazonian Croatian and even though they have a cocktail list I feel like drinking some vino – and so we grab a glass of the Torres Grenache as well as the Earthworks Shiraz ($9 each). The Earthworks is good, the Torres all right – but quite frankly (and unusually for me) I’d prefer to talk about the food.
The fabada is worthy of an old Spanish tavern – it’s a traditional white bean stew made with pork belly, ham hock and chorizo with breadcrumbs toasted on top ($19). Meanwhile, the grilled paella onigiri ($9) is a clever cross between a pinxtos (a type of tapas that often has a toothpick running through it) and a Japanese rice ball/triangle. This has a triangular base of paella with crispy calamari and aioli speared on top – and while it might sound good, it tastes much better.
We then try a jug of their red sangria ($20), which is made to a house recipe – although we later find out it has red wine, Southern Comfort, ginger beer and nutmeg gratings in it. I’ve always thought Southern Comfort is the devil’s drink, and I still wouldn’t touch it straight, but this sangria is awesome – the nutmeg not only complements the ginger beer but also adds a great aroma.
Lastly, the churros is worth a mention – it’s fresh, beautifully soft in the middle and served with decadently thick melted chocolate.
I’m definitely coming back here soon, so I’ll update the review shortly – I plan on trying some cocktails and more food and maybe even the restaurant area down the back that has some great red leatherette lounges. Hell, if this were my local my cat would barely ever see me.
The Carrington, 538 Bourke Street, Surry Hills. See The Carrington website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate The Carrington?