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Emmilou Tapas Bar: A Taste of Spring Menu

Author: Posted on: August 31, 2011 at 8:56 am

It’s been called hip, vibrant, sexy. A place you take someone you want to impress, seduce or even engage in a cinq-à-sept. But how about a blind date?

It’s Saturday night at Emmilou and you can feel the vibrant energy of this modern European Tapas Bar on the approach from Bourke Street. The blind date is the occasion to meet @kls__ and @daraghmcg after several late night Twitter chats about whisky and chocolate, the love of France and Italy, dining out and cocktails.

And here, at Emmilou is where it is about to unravel, to find out if 140 characters can translate to conversations and more importantly, to celebrate @daraghmcg‘s birthday.

Emmilou Tapas Bar

Like any blind date, quiet nerves, tweets and DMs preceed the night as our anonymity is about to be revealed. But once the rendez-vous is made, and hugs are exchanged, we find there is no ice to be broken.

There is something to be said when the staff of an establishment you’ve visited a couple of times remember you and greet you like an old friend. And I’m not just talking about Emmilou’s Executive Chef and Owner Chris Cranswick-Smith whom I have interviewed recently but also Liam Dooley, the restaurant manager, and Ryan Christopherson who is looking after us tonight.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Cocktails – (L) Calvados Hot Toddy (M) 10 Counts Martini (R) Pyrat Old Fashioned

Our corner table on the terrace has the prime position. Comfortable and cosy, offering a little privacy from the hubbub inside, and affording me a direct view of the action in the restaurant and the bar. It is no secret… I like to watch.

We toast our to @daraghmcg’s birthday with a Pyrat Old Fashioned (with chocolate bitters and orange), a 10 Counts Martini (Tanqueray no. 10 gin with a hint of antica formula sweet vermouth, Campari and a grapefruit twist) and Calvados Hot Toddy for the girls (Le grand solage Calvados warmed with a tickle of Liqor 43, Peychauds bitters and a pinch of cinnamon). The latter is the kind of spicy and aromatic cocktail that sets fire to the soul and starts any evening on a great note.

Emmilou Tapas BarEmmilou Tapas Bar
Almonds with chilli and sherry vinegar,  Marinated green and black manzanillo olives

They may state it overtly on their cocktail menu (Emmilou Staff are Hot) but it doesn’t take long for @kls__ and I to notice that the high hottie ratio of the all-male staff, including a new face I am quick to point out.

“Has Chris told you about our menu tonight?” Ryan’s quizzical tone snaps me back to the task at hand as he shows me the menu.

Expecting something nudity-related as on the previous occasion, I check the menu for signs of naked women and ugly dudes. Not this time. It turns out that Emmilou will be a launching their new Spring Menu on September 1st and we are treated to a preview of what is to come. As always, they are having fun with it, using local seasonal produce reflecting Chris’ time in Spain and France, and presenting a hybrid of new and favourite dishes. I hear whispers of their famous Goat Sausage making a return to the menu in the near future.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Spiced tomato chutney with multi-grain sourdough

We start with Emmilou’s signature spiced tomato chutney with multi-grain sourdough…

Emmilou Tapas Bar

and move on to Rioja from La Vendimia 2009 Tempranillo Garnacha which puts us in the mood.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Slow cooked trout with coffee and tequila jelly

New dish on the menu is the sublime slow cooked trout with coffee and tequila jelly that is set to become an Emmilou classic. Chris later tells me that this is inspired from a dish he had at the Fat Duck some time ago.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Stuffed zucchini flowers with goats cheese and truffle honey

The Stuffed zucchini flowers with goats cheese and truffle honey are an Emmilou favourite, with a generous filling of goat cheese oozing with flavour and delicately balanced with truffle honey.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Grilled prawns with saffron aioli and eggplant chips

Another dish from the new menu is grilled prawns with saffron aioli and eggplant chips, a combination of Mediterranean flavours that takes me back to my favourite sea.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Seared scallops with sweet corn, apple and olive butter

Another new kid on the menu are the seared scallops with sweet corn, apple and olive butter. Perfectly cooked scallops, plump and flavoursome sitting on a bed of sweet corn.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Crab croquettes with grain mustard vinaigrette

Crab croquettes with grain mustard vinaigrette is a favourite dish from the previous occasion. Beneath the crunchy texture, you find red peppers stuffed with potato and crab, and dressed with grain mustard.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
16 hour free range Berkshire pork belly with pear and pumpkin

Another winter favourite, the 16 hour free range Berkshire pork belly with pear and pumpkin has succulent pieces of pork, crispy crackling and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Spiced quail breasts with tabouleh, dates and almonds

I like dishes that come with instructions. The spiced quail breasts with tabouleh, dates and almonds is best enjoyed if you assemble all components of the dish together in one bite. I like the combination of flavours and textures, particularly the sweetness of the beetroot with the quail meat.

The ambience tonight is buzzy though it is a little more sedate on the terrace with a couple beside us holding hands between courses and others in what appears as some fancy dress costumes. The music is just at the right level and I am keeping an ear out for French/Spanish songs but having no luck with the exception of Manu Chao’s Me Gustas Tú, a song that always takes me to a happy place.

Meanwhile, the blind date is progressing very well. By the time we’ve finished the second dish, we are making plans for the next date, and the only texting under the table involves tweets of praise about the food and drink we are enjoying.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Valdespino Pedro Ximinez NV

We kick off dessert with a toast of Valdespino Pedro Ximinez NV. Pedro and I have had a secret thing going on since we became acquainted on a business trip to Melbourne. We choose our desserts but unlike the previous dishes, neither one of us is willing to share. At first.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Stuffed cigars with toffee apple foam and burnt orange

My choice of stuffed cigars with toffee apple foam and burnt orange hits the right spot – light in texture and packing a lot of flavour with a plate-licking orange sauce.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Emmilou’s churros with chocolate sauce

The lovely @kls__ can’t decide if she is more excited about her churros or that the delectable chocolate sauce comes with a little spoon. She offers me a little taste, and it is rude to say no to good chocolate on a first date.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Lime cheese cake with calle 23 silver tequila jelly

Not being one who likes to share his desserts, Mr G kindly offers each of us a taste of the tequila jelly of the lime cheese cake. I can’t vouch for this Emmilou classic dessert, but when it comes to the tequila jelly, I would like a little spoon.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Queso manchego with fresh muscatel grapes and cherry syrup

We’re told that it’s the first time Queso manchego with fresh muscatel grapes and cherry syrup has worn a birthday candle. For @daraghmcg, it is time to make a wish and smile for my camera.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
Red wine poached pear, pistachios and almond ice cream

The Red wine poached pear, pistachios and almond ice cream is a new dessert on the menu, one that is shared among us. The pears are served cold and pack a little crunch. The almond ice cream is creamy and subtle in flavour which doesn’t overpower the pears.

Emmilou Tapas BarEmmilou Tapas Bar
Sazerac Rye Whiskey – (L) Bourbon in a Skirt (R)  Grappaccino

A couple of Sazerac Rye Whiskeys are in order for the men while the girls leave the choice of after dinner cocktails to Zach, the Bar Manager. Bourbon in a Skirt is a chamomile-infused Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon with lemon butter, lemon juice and Mandarin Napoleon Brandy.  The Bourbon is well balanced with the citrus and brandy and does not overpower the cocktail.

My Grappaccino is served with a disclaimer from the bar, “We won’t be offended if you can’t finish it” which sounds like a challenge for this dry Martini imbiber. Made with grappa, creme de cacao, white vermouth, sherry and coconut foam, it delivers a strong a strong alcoholic kick with after notes of coconut. A challenge I am proud to have met with ease, and a cocktail I hope to see on the regular menu.

Emmilou Tapas Bar

The sign of a successful night is when you’re among the last to leave. Chris joins us for a chat and meets our friends, a welcome gesture that reminds me of what is often done in Europe. He hints at the new menu design and when I ask him if there will be nudity on it, he offers a vague statement, “Emmilou management refuses to acknowledge the lack of nudity in or around its premises at any point in time”. In return, I volunteer my services to ensure that a high male hottie factor will make it on any future menu.

Emmilou Tapas Bar challenges any preconceived ideas one may have on tapas. The dishes are well executed and presented. Served sequentially and not all at once, they can be enjoyed at their optimum. Much like a degustation, the pacing and order is impeccable, building on flavour and ingredients. Service is cheerful and friendly, designed to make you relax and enjoy the overall experience.

With creative cocktails, delicious food and wine, a fun and sophisticated ambience and the company of good friends, Sydney nights can’t get better than that.

Emmilou Tapas Bar
413 Bourke Street
Surry Hills Sydney NSW 2010

http://www.emmilou.com.au/

Emmilou on Urbanspoon

Corinne

Corinne is the founder and editor of Gourmantic. An avid scribe, she has taken pen to paper since the age of five. Her repertoire includes long works of fiction, short stories and travelogues.

She is a winner of the GT travel writing competition, has judged the Australasian Whisky Awards for 2013 and several cocktail competitions. She is also named in the Australian Bartender Most Influential List for 2013.


This article is posted on Gourmantic.com. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2014

Emmilou Tapas Bar: A Taste of Spring Menu was last modified: May 5th, 2014 by Corinne

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36 Comments to “Emmilou Tapas Bar: A Taste of Spring Menu”

  1. Really like the food here, esp the crab croquettes. Didn’t get to eat desserts here last time so must come back one day. :-)

    • Corinne says:

      They were one of my faves as well from the first time but loved the trout and quail dishes. The new desserts look amazing if you’ve been checking Emmilou’s tweets of late!

  2. Katie says:

    How lucky are you to get a sneak preview of a new menu! Great photos as always. Really love the sound of the trout and quail dishes. Yum!

  3. I’m just visiting at the moment and it looks like a great place to add to my list of restaurants to try

  4. RT @Gourmantic: Blind Date at Emmilou Tapas Bar and A Taste of Spring Menu bit.ly/o7BIvG @emmiloutapasbar Thanks guys you’re AMAZING!!

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter.

  5. Amazing review as always Corinne, thank you!! And more than happy to offer a 20% discount to any of your readers for any bookings at all. Just email Liam or I at enquiries@emmilou.com.au and mention this offer.
    Chat soon!!!

    • Corinne says:

      Thank you so much Chris for a fabulous night all round and for your kind words. That’s quite a generous offer to our readers! Always a pleasure being at Emmilou :)

  6. kls__ says:

    Super excellent evening!! “@Gourmantic: Blind Date at @emmiloutapasbar and A Taste of Spring Menu fb.me/Z7to0msO”

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter.

  7. Wow – the food looks sensational (reminds me a lot of District Dining too!). I’ve never been on a blind date, as such…

  8. Tuula says:

    Yikes, this food looks incredible – that cheesecake is so interesting, not to mention the *beautiful* tapas! Ok, and this is quickly becoming one of my favorite Gourmantic posts. Love the humor …& especially this line: “Like any blind date, quiet nerves, tweets and DMs preceed the night as our anonymity is about to be revealed”. So fun …& true!

    • Corinne says:

      Thanks Tuula :) I wanted to have fun with it and convey the evening with the food and Emmilou experience instead of just reporting on every dish, which incidentally, made me hungry as I was writing it!

  9. These are tapas like I’ve never seen before! What an excellent place for a blind date — perhaps it was love at first sight? :-) Looks like you all had a wonderful time. Who wouldn’t in such a place?

    • Corinne says:

      Emmilou has that kind of effect, blind date, love-lust at first sight etc, that was my impression the first time I went there for cocktails. It was a fab night on all fronts, like I said, we were the last to leave!

  10. Margo says:

    Wow – what a fabulous sounding place and menu.. and as always, your pics and descriptions of everything make me feel as if I were there. Which my stomach tells me I was not. #drool

  11. Tapas, Cocktails & tweetups in Sydney via @Gourmantic bit.ly/o7BIvG >Looks like so much fun!

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter.

  12. Making me hungry at 8am with those photos! Some crab cakes and pork belly please. Looks like so much fun, and I don’t blame Mr. G at all for not wanting to share the lime cheesecake.

    • Corinne says:

      Now you know how much working on this review made me hungry! Mr G is not a sharer when it comes to dessert (big kid) but he had to spread the tequila jelly love around. It was that good!

  13. Well, I think I could quite easily much my way through that tapas. The photos look great. And isn’t Twitter great, too?! We’ve met up with a few people from Twitter now and they’ve all been exactly as we expected. Strange what 140 characters can do. :)
    Julia

  14. [...] The Sazerac Rye Whiskey with its spicy and vanilla notes was one we enjoyed recently at Emmilou Tapas Bar. [...]

  15. [...] music tonight is more laid back than on the previous occasion and that of the happy hour, matching the intimate and romantic mood of the dimly-lit Emmilou. The [...]

  16. [...] spice to an event. Much like the mystery surrounding the Calle to Cavern pop up dinner with Emmilou Tapas Bar we attended the week before, I am filled with [...]

  17. [...] at the new menu launch in March. We had a blind date and loved the surprise preview of your spring menu. You wooed us with your Calle to Cavern pop-up dinner during Crave Sydney, and you even gave us an [...]

  18. [...] enjoy in a shot glass or in a fine Margarita, it is used in bars such as Eau-de-Vie Bar, Low 302, Emmilou Tapas Bar and Corner [...]

  19. [...] There is definitely an influence from Emmilou and my greater European days but I’ve also spent 24 years here in Australia. The idea of [...]

  20. [...] Bunch Food & Wine is the joint venture between Chris Cranswick-Smith of Emmilou Tapas Bar, Dinesh Wicks, Al Matthews, Cadell Bradnock and Marc Lawler, recently featured in the interview [...]

  21. [...] Sydney restaurants that have wooed us include La Bodeguita del Medio, Concrete Blonde, the Carrington Beba Y Cene, and various dining experiences at Emmilou Tapas Bar. [...]

  22. [...] Bunch is the latest venture of Chris Cranswick-Smith, Executive Chef and Owner of Emmilou Tapas Bar in Surry Hills. Together with the other owners, they have launched a unique café and wine bar [...]

  23. [...] of World Dinners, Emmilou Tapas Bar takes you on A Spanish Tour drawing on Executive Chef Chris Cranswick-Smith‘s experience in [...]

  24. [...] from Emmilou’s menu can also be ordered and enjoyed at the bar such as the Crab Croquettes served with grain mustard [...]

  25. […] drink. Judging the competition were Mikey Enright (The Barber Shop), Chris Cranswick-Smith (Emmilou, Bar Lou Lou, Hollywood and Vine), Auriane Bourdin (island2island) and Myffy Rigby (Time […]

  26. […] her older sibling in Surry Hills, Emmilou Seaforth will hold your attention. From the moment you step inside, she’ll welcome […]

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