Wander down Bulletin Place near Circular Quay and you could believe you’ve stumbled across a laneway in Barcelona with a classic Tapas Wine Bar. Tapavino is Australia’s first sherry bar, a place to enjoy the largest pouring sherry collection by the glass and nibble on tasty tapas to match.
Spread across two-levels, the bar on the ground floor occupies a sizeable space with an impressive collection of wall to wall bottles and glassware. The vibe is loud, buzzy and convivial, as you would expect from tapas bars in Spain. Upstairs is another dining room with banquettes, shared tables and tables for two against a blackboard wall with the menu.
If you’re a novice to sherry, you’ll be in good hands at Tapavino. Owner, Frank Dilernia (ex Buzo and Wine Library) can recommend various styles by the glass to match the dishes you choose, starting from the bone dry varieties to those with more residual sugar and ending with a sweet nectar-like drop to accompany dessert or a cheese board. The selection of over two hundred Spanish wines, with nearly seventy items offered by the glass dwarfs the single page food menu but don’t let that dissuade you. There are almost fifty dishes to choose from with a recommendation of 3 to 4 dishes between two persons.
The razor clams topped with jamon crisps, peas, broad beans and eschalots ($16) is the must-have dish from the sea. One taste and you’re tempted to order another immediately. Frank recommends starting with dry sherries such as the 2006 Alvera Fino en Rama ($10), an unblended fino that is almost tang and bone dry and La Bota del Fino no 27 ($14), a one of a kind from barrel no 27, described as a wine for connoisseurs.
Pata negra jamón
From the Bar Jamon, the ‘Pata Negra’ iberico acorn fed jamón ($27) is an absolute delight. The thinly-sliced jamon drizzled with a little olive oil melts in the mouth with a distinctive nutty flavour. Matched with Leonor, Palo Cortado 12 ($10), this a very fine sherry which starts off as fino before it is aged for 12 years in the “leonor” solera. The Romate Amontillado NPU from Jerez ($12) has a creamy nut aroma and dry honey, with a soft and delicate finish.
Wagyu rump ‘frio’
From the land menu comes the Wagyu rump ‘frio’ ($20). The meat is served at room temperature and topped with rocket, salsa verde sauce and slivers of anchovy that give this dish that extra seasoning. The dish is matched with Toro Albala Cream Montilla Moriles ($12), a ten year old oloroso viejo enriched with old Don PX Gran Reserva and Cristina Abocado Oloroso ($9), blend of palomino and Pedro Ximenez, a semi sec sherry that is very different on the nose than the palate. These sherries are well matched to the dish as they contain a little more residual sugar which cuts through the flavour of the meat and anchovies.
Dulce de leche tart
Save room for the dulce de leche tart ($12), a feelgood dessert that delivers an immediate sugar hit with the caramel filling. The sizeable portion is best shared between two. To accompany the dessert, the Nectar Pedro Ximenez ($10) aged for 8 years is golden dark, with ripe fruit and fine wood while the Romate Cream Iberia ($11) is a more sticky and viscous style with aromatic tones of oak, prune and raisin.
Finish on a selection of Spanish cheeses such as the sheep’s cheese, Manchego aged for 12 months and Valdeon, a cow and goat blue cheese ($12 each).
Downstairs dining area and bar
Tapavino is a welcome addition to the vibrant Sydney bar scene and is set to make its mark with the specialist bars that have proven their success among whisky bars, tequila bars and champagne bars. Its claim to be the first sherry bar in Australia is well-deserved. The venue has all the right elements of a Spanish-style bar with tapas dishes from Head Chef Renee Anderson (ex Buzo, Wine Library) and Anna Knight that stand out from the norm. The ambience is welcoming and unpretentious. Drop in for a glass of vino, jerez or cocktail, or come in for a bite to eat. Once you’ve been once, you’ll be making plans to come back with your friends.
6-8 Bulletin Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Mon to Fri: 11am to 11.30pm
Sat: 5pm to 11.30pm
Ph: 9247 3221