Before you continue I just want to say sorry for the poor photo quality, i only had an iphone with me at the time… buts its ok i know you come here for my wit more then my photography skill (or lack thereof).
So I have this mate whose Portuguese. He’s a very funny guy and a hoot to be around however, he does has a very latin temperament. He’s a very passionate guy and you can tell he has a real verve for life, but that same passion can sometimes see him becoming extremely outraged over the smallest things. Because of this he also tends to make some wild claims, whether it be about the state of people’s minds (he once claimed that someone who had given him less shifts then the usual at a bar he was working at had a ‘sick revenge mind!’), anything to do with Brazil, or how everything great in the world comes from Portugal (except for Oporto and peri peri sauce – this apparently is offensive to Portugal and no one eats chilli at all in Portugal). The latter is relative to this post as according to him some of the culinary traditions we associate with Spain (tapas, sangria, paella) are actually from Portugal. I don’t know how much truth there is in any of this but when I did some research on paella all of it pointed to its origins being in Valencia…. Not just any part of Spain… Valencia.
So this is how I found myself with 2 other diners at Bartino in Pyrmont on a cold and windy Saturday night. When I saw the words Portuguese Tapas and Bar I knew I we had to eat there to see if there was any substance to the claims.
Walking inside we’re greeted with dark timbers, soft yellow lighting, an old and jovial Portuguese fellow and thankfully the last free table. After a quick glance at the menu I already know what I want.
We start off with a round of different tapas items. The cod fritters are light and fluffy with a nice crispy coating, while the saltiness of the fish isn’t overpowering. A spritz of lemon makes it all the better.
The chourico (sorry no photo was taken, but I can tell you its $12) is as good as expected, but then again when are cured meats ever bad? I don’t know if it’s because I’d already knocked back a few drinks but these are especially good. Sliced thinly they have a nice crispy char on the ends.
The mushrooms are a favourite with the table. There’s nothing standout about the mushrooms themselves, in fact they look like simple button mushrooms that have been quartered, but the sauce is amazing. Garlicy, creamy, so full of flavoury. We find ourselves spooning the sauce on the other dishes and licking the sauce off our plates (ok so maybe that was only me).
And for the main act we chose the Paella. You knew where this was going. The menu states it’s for two, but I seriously think it would’ve been enough for four so long as you got your fill of tapas and so on. From the moment it landed on our table I knew it was going to be different. It had a light yellow tinge as opposed to the robust earthy ones you see when dining Spanish; it came in a flat ceramic pot as opposed to the Paella pan, and there wasn’t any sight of Chorizo. And what a paella it was, full of mussels, prawns, pipis and calamari, it was light, it was fresh and it was zingy. The juices all combined to make an almost creamy texture to the rice and we found ourselves going back for more even after the top jean buttons were already undone.
So I’m no closer to understanding if there’s any truths to my mates claims, but when the food is good who really cares? Maybe it’s because of people like my mate who like to make wild claims that we’re able to get great food as people strive for the best in order to justify them, and at the end of the day who can argue with that? Maybe only someone with a sick revenge mind.
9 Union Street, Pyrmont
(02) 9518 8000