When was the last time you heard the word “tapas” and it actually referred to Spanish tapas? Just about every new modern restaurant serves small share plates of some sort, but real Spanish-style tapas is rare. Manuel Terron thinks that’s a damn shame, and it’s why he and his partner Sarah Miller have just opened Bar Tapa.

“The concept of Bar Tapa comes from the food of my childhood and the Spanish lifestyle. I experienced this as a boy but as an adult I wasn't able to find the same thing in [Australian] restaurants. I’ve always found everything too white-washed or Australianised,” says Terron.

Terron and Miller are authenticity obsessed. They talk about touring Spain with vivid enthusiasm, from the regional cuisine they became captivated by and the bars they visited. As much as they can they’ve tried to transplant that Spanish experience to their Darlinghurst restaurant.

Sevillian tiles and a Spanish flag frame the entrance; jamon legs hang above the bar; and there are Spanish trinkets offering a splash of colour on an exposed-brick wall. “We went to Spain with empty suitcases and hauled the tiles [back].

The menu, designed by Terron’s Spanish-born son Edi and his friend Maite Silvera, is a mix of Terron family recipes and classic Spanish dishes. From Terron’s mum comes the croquetas and the migas (a fried toss of bread crumbs, pancetta and black pudding topped with a fried egg), while the Valencian-style paella and patatas bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) are inspired by Terron’s travels. As is the lunch menu of Spanish baguettes, bocadillos.

The only thing they haven’t been able to bring over is the tradition of serving many of these dishes for free with a drink. “In Grenada you can go from bar to bar ordering drinks and not pay a cent for food. That would be completely unsustainable here,” Terron says.

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Their alternative is to serve each drink, whether it be a sangria a cava (Spanish champagne) or a vermouth, with a free tapita, a miniature canapé-style snack. That might be some shaved jamon over bread or a piece of frittata. “More than selling food and drink, we want to sell a cultural experience,” says Terron.

Bar Tapa
78 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst

Hours:
Tue to Fri 12pm–12am
Sat 5pm–12am

bartapa.com.au