Saturday, 8 February 2014

Gordita - a different take on Spanish cuisine

All the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place at one of Brisbane's newest dining hotspots, the awesome M&A Lane in the Valley.  Gordita is the latest funky restaurant to open up in what is quickly becoming a killer dining destination, one of many in a rapidly expanding Brisbane dining scene.

As seems to be the case lately, we were walking to James Street to do our usual weekend shop, when we noticed that Gordita had opened its doors.  I'd known that Gordita was opening soon, in fact I'd been invited along to check out the menu at a sit down lunch, but the moment I saw that the spot had opened, there was no way I could wait a week to check it out.  In fact, we waited exactly one day before the lure of the shiny shiny had us booked in to sample some lovely Spanish nosh!

Gordita is part of an ever expanding empire of restaurants form Jamie Webb, who also runs Spanish Tapas joint Peasant at the Barracks (see post here) as well as Oyster Bar Cabiria and Lefty's old time music hall. Drawing on his experiences running restaurants in New York and Sydney, Jamie has put together a southern Spanish style restaurant that is very different from the more traditional cuisine at Peasant.  Amazingly, he's also been able to lure Alfonso Ales to consult on the menu, who brings his experiences in working in Spain's best restaurant in recent years ,(now closed) elBulli.

Being a Sunday night and such a new restaurant, we were pretty certain that we would be able to score a seat without making a booking and lucked out with a prime booth seat right by the wide open windows.  Gordita is an awesome looking restaurant with a number of different styles of seating, including a very traditional tapas bar, share tables and the more comfortable booth setting which we had scored.  The bar was very impressive and reminded us of some of the great tapas bars we'd visited on our trip to Barcellona a few years back.

Shortly after being seated, we were handed our menus and given a bit of a run down on how Gordita worked by one of the friendliest waiters I've come across in a long time.  The menu ran like a pretty traditional Spanish in that there were share plates, including small, large and "on the bone served table side".  What was interesting about the menu was that it didn't have your typical Spanish cuisine, it had it's influences in Southern Spain and Morocco and amazingly there was hardly any chorizo to be seen.

We eyed off and chose a range of small and large plates, as well as a couple of sides and settled in to wait for our food to arrive.  A few seconds after ordering, we had a dish placed in front of us, which we hadn't ordered (it had been delivered to the wrong table) and quickly taken away.  After a few second's thought, I caught the eye of our waiter and asked him to add the very same dish to our order, it had looked amazing (I'll share what this dish was a bit later).

No Spanish menu would be complete without jamon and it would be almost sacrilegious for us not to order jamon when we see it.  The 'pan con tomate y jamon iberico' - sourdough, iberico, salmorejo and olive oil was our first small plate delivered and we were happy to see the dish piled high with the delicious and salty Spanish ham.  The sourdough was lathered in a traditional southern Spanish tomato puree, which had soaked wonderfully into the bread and complimented the salty iberico jamon to perfection.  We were worried about how we would 'divvy' the dish up, but it was thoughtfully cut into four pieces for us, so we didn't have to fight over who would get the last bite!

Our next small plate of 'bomba Catalana' was a bit of a house special.  My initial thought when seeing the bomba was that it was a mix between Italian meatballs and Spanish croquette but the potato with meat ragout, manchego, aioli and salsa brava was something else entirely.  After cracking through the golden and very crispy outer casing, the bomba was filled with a mix of manchego cheese and potato, to give it a very light texture with a little bit of a bite.  There were some great flavours on the plate and the cheesy manchego flavour worked nicely with the tomato based ragout, but there was something about the texture that didn't sit well with me.  SC had no such issues with the texture and loved it, but I've never been a big fan of croquettes, so it didn't surprise me at all that I wasn't a enamoured with the texture of this dish.

The dish that our waiter had so cleverly placed in front of me, only to whisk it away when he realised we hadn't ordered it was the gallega style octopus with potato mousseline, paprika and olive oil.  I say cleverly because it could not have been engineered any better for me to slide in another order and it worked a treat. It was SC's turn not to be so impressed with a dish, after all, she doesn't like octopus very much, but I loved it! The octopus was cooked just right and worked incredibly well with the astoundingly light and fluffy potato mousseline, which had a subtly smoky flavour.  To her credit, SC did try to have a few bites of this but gave up fairly quickly, which left the bulk of the dish for me to devour, and I did!

There were a couple of eye catching large plates on the menu but the one that held our attention long enough to order it was the stuffed calamari with squid ink and garlic fried calasparra rice.  The plate was presented with two large and stuffed baby calamari and artfully 'painted' black squid ink contrasting the whiteness of the squid and rice.  Touches of colour came by way of paprika and micro herbs, giving the whole presentation a very modern look.  I'm a big fan of squid ink and love the texture and subtle earthy flavour that it provides. The stuffed squid was immaculately prepared and was cooked to perfection, with my knife easily accounting for the flesh of the squid.  There was a natural saltiness from the fish stuffing that worked brilliantly with the calamari and I really enjoyed the flavour combinations.  The rice was light and sticky, with just a hint of garlic, and was just the right texture and flavour to contrast the squid.  At the end of this course, SC and I gave each other big black toothy grins before washing away the squid ink and starting on our next course.

I've noticed that slow cooked eggs at 66 degrees are appearing on menus around the country.  I love a good slow cooked egg and that first cut through the yolk to see it hang together and ever so slowly start to ooze out of it's egg white casing.  The 'flamenca style' slow cooked egg with serrano, green peas and chorizo (the only chorizo on the menu) looked fresh and inviting when it was presented.  We scooped the eggs out of the bowl, along with heaps of fresh green peas and salty chorizo and placed on our individual eating plates.  With a little bit of trepidation, I cut into my egg, all the time wondering if it would be perfect.  Unfortunately, it was not. Don't get me wrong, the yolk was fully cooked and had great flavour, it just had not been cooked quite long enough and ended up being a very runny yolk on the plate.  I did love the combination of the sweet and sticky yolk with the chorizo and beautifully fresh peas, but I can only wonder what it would have been like if the egg was perfect.

It was time for dessert and while we were quite full from the interesting and tasty plates we had already eaten, we were keen to see what Gordita would do with the sweet end to the meal.  SC ordered the tarta de Santiago and dulce de leche - pilgrimage almond cake, which our waiter explained would likely be the most popular desert on the menu.  The almond cake came decorated with a simple cross on top and some silky smooth ice cream with toasted almonds.  The cake was baked well with a crispy jagged line around its perimeter that had a lovely crunch but was light and fluffy throughout.  There was only a hint of almond flavour in the cake but it was augmented with the toasted almonds on the ice cream.  I'm pretty sure that Gordita is going to get a great reputation for it's desserts, mainly on the back of the ice cream with was simply spectacular.

My dessert of warm chocolate coulant with almonds, orange blossom and vanilla ice cream was the real star of the desserts for me.  The chocolate coulant was only a small cake, but it packed a chocolaty punch, especially once the gooey centre of melted chocolate came oozing out over the plate and mixed with that incredibly smooth vanilla ice cream.  I really appreciated the slice of fresh orange under the vanilla ice cream, which gave the dessert and extra dimension of flavour and texture.  It was really yummy.

Gordita had only been open a few days but by the time we had finished our meal, there was quite a decent crowd in for dinner, all the more impressive given it was a Sunday night.  I'd been pinged as a food blogger by our waiter fairly early on in the meal and he'd been bold enough to ask me straight up if I was a blogger, which doesn't often happen.  We spent a bit of time quizzing him about his background and the restaurant, which added to the fun of the night.  Interestingly, he'd just moved to Gordita from the GOMA restaurant, where we'd just been the week before (see post here).

One of the elements of Gordita that I loved the most was the cool looking #StreetArt that had been painted on the walls by Brisbane graffiti artist Sofles.  I'm a really big fan of #StreetArt and part of my Instagram account is dedicated to taking #StreetArt shots around the country whenever I see it.  The art in Gordita's was a cross over between street art and contemporary art that had a very Spanish feel to it and I spent much of the night taking photos.

Of course the #StreetArt wasn't the only great thing about Gordita's, pretty much everything was.  The vibe and ambiance was excellent, as was the service we received and of course the food was delicious.  It's the type of place that you could easily spend a few hours sitting at the bar having some beer and tapas before making your way to a table for a more substantial meal, then heading back to the bar for more beer.  It's certainly a great addition to M&A Lane and indeed the Brisbane dining scene, with only one question to ask.... How much better can our dining world get?  I'm not sure, but I can't wait to find out.

The bar at Gordita is perfect for a beer or plate of tapas
I loved the art on the wall by Brisbane graffiti artist Sofles
No trip to a Spanish restaurant would be complete without Sangria - SC chose the rose version from the menu and loved something other than the traditional red or white wine
The triple cooked chips were lovely and moreish but they were a little soggy - crispy would be better
The Bar is the focal point of the restaurant
An expansive shot of the restaurant which is dark and brooding and perfect to spend an afternoon drinking and eating

Gordita on Urbanspoon Gordita

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is very useful, I am truly to this blog which is specially design about the cuisine.
    Great job.



Thanks very much for your comment, I really love and appreciate feedback and your thoughts


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...