Tapavino tucker

Tucked away in a cosy Circular Quay laneway, Tapavino will help you find the perfect sherry, and the fresh seafood is exquisite.

Australia's favourite food blogger Not Quite Nigella, aka Lorraine Elliott, finds a Circular Quay secret specialising in sherry and fresh seafood fare.

“In the 90s, I had an erotic dream about Kim Beazley…” Marcia says to Natasha and I one evening. I almost spurt out my drink and then try to scrub the visual from my mind. It’s times like this that I’m glad that we’re sitting outside, the busy Sydney Friday night around us muffling our somewhat sordid and not-for-public-consumption conversation. We’re at Tapavino in Circular Quay, Bulletin Place, a snug little laneway pitched right next to a hotel that, to be honest, I never knew existed. Inside is a red hued wine bar with a shiny display of glasses on the back wall, but we’re sitting al fresco in this slightly chilly but still lovely Friday evening.

Tapavino is said to be Australia’s first dedicated Jerez or Sherry bar with 54 sherries on the menu, 46 of them available by the glass. Patrons can say what sort of wine they usually enjoy and they will match them to a suitable sherry. They also specialise in Spanish wines by the glass or three carafe sizes or bottles. I do love a drop of Pedro Ximenez so I flick through to the sherry pages. On the waiter’s recommendation I try a Cristina Oloroso Abocado, which is medium dry scented sherry. Truth be told I should have really stuck with the Sánchez Romate Pedro Ximenez, which was sublime with an intense raisin flavour, incredible legs and that went down as smooth as silk…

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Cristina Oloroso Abocado sherry $9

The menu is quite extensive and holds an intriguing and hard to choose list of menu items… Our first is the razor clam dish served as six razor clams topped with verdant mashed peas and broadbeans, eschallots and thin, crispy pieces of jamon. They were full of fresh flavours.

 There’s a jamon menu with eight different plates of jamon, mostly jamon serrano but as soon as I see Pata Negra, I can see nothing else on the list. Oh my kingdom for Pata Negra or Jamon Iberico; that incredible glossy jamon made from pigs that feast on black acorns. Yes, it’s expensive but it’s about quality over quantity and the intense flavour and melt in the mouth texture is hard to find in other jamon. It is served here with fresh crusty bread and breadsticks.

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Sardines de Compostela $17

I am not a huge fan of tinned sardines but fresh ones are divine. Surprisingly, this is served cold and it’s a generous serve of sardine fillets with pine nuts, currants and plenty of olive oil. It’s fantastic, the sardines singing with their distinct flavour and texture and the olive oil and nuts and currants bring out the best in it. It is everyone’s favourite dish of the night…

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