Emmilou Tapas Bar: New Chef Gary Ryley & New Menu

There’s no stopping Surry Hills favourite, Emmilou Tapas Bar. After launching Bar Lou Lou and the summer pop-up, Hollywood and Vine, she’s back in 2014 with new head Chef, Gary Ryley and a revitalised menu.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Emmilou Tapas Bar, Surry Hills

Hailing from London, Gary Ryley has worked for Jamie Oliver at Jamie’s Italian for three and a half years before moving into fine dining and working for Gordon Ramsay. After a stint at the Gilbert Scott, an English brasserie in St Pancras, he relocated to Sydney and worked for Justin North at Quarter 21 and Becasse. Later, he moved to Postales in the CBD before joining Emmilou as head chef early in February 2014.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Gary Ryley at Emmilou

Ryley’s culinary career is punctuated with six months spent on a working holiday in Barcelona and Madrid. In the bustling Spanish cities, he took inspiration from his surrounds with street food and tuck shops aplenty. From cooking live squid in an alleyway with a limited number of ingredients to learning the secrets of a good paella from an elderly Spanish woman, his focus is to make any dish sing with flavour.

Emmilou Tapas Bar

The new menu at Emmilou is totally revamped but regulars will be pleased to know that the signature dish of stuffed zucchinis with goats cheese and truffle honey remains on the menu.

Dishes are divided into Tapas, suitable for a light meal, and Platos, being more substantial and main course portioned dishes which can also be shared.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Calamares Frito

From the Tapas comes Calamares Frito ($14), tender calamari coated in a light, well-seasoned batter and garnished with fried parsley sprigs which add freshness and a lovely texture to the dish. A creamy garlic aioli bursts with flavour and a hint of chilli.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Setas Mixtas

With an earthy aroma, Setas Mixtas ($15) is a combination of oyster, shiitake, Swiss brown and button mushroom with a light and airy garlic and lemon thyme foam that turns into a liquid worthy of dipping your bread into.

Emmilou Tapas Bar

From the Platos, the Zarzuela ($40) is not to be missed. Fragrant and delicious, the seafood chowder with a generous amount of prawns, scallops, mussels, clams and fish is a dish you eat with your eyes first. It comes with a serving of crusty Spanish bread begging to be dunk into the liquid and a couple of spoons if you ask nicely.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Solomillo de Carne

Solomillo de Carne ($38) is another delightful dish. The sirloin steak is tender and pink, with a scattering of sun-dried tomatoes, beneath a bed of Mojo sauce, with parsley, coriander, fennel, fenugreek seeds, cumin, fresh chilli, lime zest and juice, topped with an olive & confit garlic vinaigrette, rocket and thin layers of Manchego cheese. Crispy Patatas Bravas in a rich tomato sauce make it a complete meal.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Vientre de Cerdo

Vientre de Cerdo is a generous slab of slow-cooked pork belly with a side of sofrito and a garlic potato puree ($32). Cooked for 2 to 3 hours, the crispy and well-seasoned crackling hides tender meat and make it a good option to share – but no fighting over the crackling.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Dolce Tarta de Chocolate

If you can fit in one dessert, choose the Dolce Tarta de Chocolate ($15). Made with a light and crunchy base and a dark Belgian chocolate ganache, the sweet Chantille Cream takes the edge off the touch of bitterness in the 70% cocoa chocolate.

Emmilou Tapas Bar

Otherwise, there are the Churros ($15) which are best described as dangerous. Dip the crunchy fingers in the warm chocolate sauce or liquid salted caramel. Or both if you dare. You’ll be asking for a little spoon to finish any left overs in the shot glasses.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Head Chef Gary Ryley

Gary Ryley’s new menu brings fresh ideas and flavours to Emmilou. While the concept of tapas and share plates remains, the portions are larger, the flavours are bolder but the dishes aren’t too heavy. Many options tempt from the Platos menu and if you find yourself checking out your neighbour’s Paella del Mar with envy, you’ll be planning your next dinner date.

Update June 2014 – Emmilou is featured in Gourmantic’s 5th Birthday Progressive Bar & Restaurant Tour.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
413 Bourke Street
Surry Hills Sydney NSW 2010

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.