Balcon by Tapavino
Balcon’s wine list is impressive. As far as Spanish wine goes, the only other list in town that even gets close to rivalling its detail and length is Tapavino. Balcon is Tapavino’s big brother, a wine-bar-restaurant hybrid that came about because Tapavino’s owner, Frank Dilernia, needed somewhere to store all the wines he was importing.
Each section of the wine menu is either divided by region (to a very specific degree) or varietal, and most wines (as well as vermouths, sherries and other Spanish drops) have unpretentious taste descriptions for the uninitiated.
Balcon is the more upmarket of the two – the 80-seat outdoor pavilion is the highlight. Food is also more refined. One of the reasons Dilernia brought in ex-Wine Library and Buzo chef Todd Garratt was to help to redefine people’s perceptions of Spanish food.
The Galacian-style crispy pig’s head sees the skin of the head stretched, crisped, salted and served with lemon. More typically Spanish dishes are the short brunch menu’s potato-filled omelette; the range of Spanish cheeses; and the 10 different jamón dishes with sides, such as buratta and pickled onion or rockmelon, mint and aged balsamic. There is also a morcilla schnitzel with cumquat mayo and charred lemon. Being a notoriously unstable fried food, the blood sausage is wrapped in fried pig ears to keep it crisp.