Alegrias Spanish Tapas
Monday and Saturday nights at Alegrias look very different to one another. On Monday it’s a quiet hang out for couples and families, with a few share plates and not much else. On Saturday there’s a steady flow of wine, sangria and croquettes; live bands; huge paella platters; and occasionally, a customer-led conga-line.
Alegrias is Balmain’s back-alley tapas restaurant. It lies hidden at the far end of Darling Street’s Institute Arcade and looks and sounds like a Spanish stereotype. There’s black and red styling, flamenco on the stereo and a kitchen full of Spanish banter we probably shouldn’t translate.
That kitchen belongs to Basque chef Victor Elcano. With a team of Spaniards from Valencia, Mallorca and Barcelona, he produces a modern style of tapas. Duck breasts are served over dehydrated and fried figs, topped with a marmalade-like sauce. Beef cheeks sit flanked by sails of chewy parmesan on a bed of carrot and tequila puree. Gazpacho comes in a cocktail glass, mixed with watermelon.
For a more old-school rendition of Spanish cuisine, look through the list of rare Spanish wines and pair with one of six different kinds of paella, including black squid ink, whole lobster and a mixed platter with pork, chicken and seafood.