18 June 2010

Emmilou: Tapas, Cocktails and Lounge Bar, Surry Hills (4 June 2010)

413 Bourke Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Fancy tapas at a price

Chris Cranswick-Smith was a guest speaker at the Media140 event who weeks later kindly invited me to his restaurant to sample the tapas dishes along with a generous $100 credit offer towards the bill total. I discover he’s a regular Ready Steady Cook guest chef and a very passionate chef and owner of Emmilou. A spur of the moment booking on a rainy Friday night brings me to this chic looking restaurant. First to arrive at 6.30 pm the red décor and quaint coziness is first noticeable. Friday and Saturdays are apparently the most happening times to visit which in turn can make it the loudest nights although the crowds are a bit scared of the rain tonight.

To start a specially prepared amuse-bouche of Cauliflower Beignet with wild mushroom foam is provided which has lovely flavours to ignite the taste buds. A delightful and well-balanced Perry Fizz Cocktail for only $10 (early bird special before 7 pm) hits the right notes for me too. The Seared Prawn Skewer with onion jam salsa and grated almonds ($5) is quite a tasty treat making me want more but at $5 each it works out rather expensive — I think two prawns would make it more attractive value. The Duck Liver Parfait, Fried Beetroot and Sourdough ($14) looks interesting, is silky smooth and presented with crispy and tasty slivers of sourdough. I’m a sucker for zucchini flowers since I know how difficult they are to make at home. The Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Goats Cheese, Pumpkin Seeds and Truffle Honey ($18) provides interesting flavours, especially with the truffle honey but I find the batter coating not as crisp and light as hoped.

The meatier tapas of Goat Sausage with Red Cabbage and a Pedro Ximinez Glaze ($25) is perhaps a rather pricey dish, especially for the tapas market. It’s rich flavours go well with my very drinkable 2008 Estate Cranswick Shiraz Barossa Valley ($10). For dessert the Lime cheese cake with tequila jelly ($15) offers a very subtle taste of tequila in the jelly. It has a rich lime taste and is smooth on the palate. The Affogato with house made turkish coffee ice cream with a shot of espresso ($10) is presented as a make your own. I find the ice cream itself perhaps a little on the hard side and isn’t as creamy soft and smooth as Café Sopra’s version which I rate as my favourite so far in Sydney for a more reasonable price.

It’s a chic restaurant with fancy non-traditional yet flavoursome tapas at a price. I love the humour to be found in the menu quotes and it’s down-to-earth touches in the lounge area and decorations. With every restaurant and cafe I tend to find there’s always something that can be improved and Emmilou is no exception. I'm not a huge fan of plasma tv screens in restaurants because I think they're an ambience distraction and the position of the waiters ordering screen seems to be shining like a lighthouse beacon towards the main dining area which seems to be at odds with the lovely decor and ambience. I find the low bulbous black plastic chairs are quite awkward to manoeuvre especially when positioned near another table seating.

Other blog reviews:

PROS: Interesting decor, Modern tapas, Quality wines, Nice cocktails, Friendly service
CONS: Can be expensive for tapas, Known to get noisy when busy
MUST TRY: Duck Liver Parfait, Cocktails, Wine

Amuse-bouche Cauliflower Beignet with wild mushroom foam (special complimentary treat)

Toasted bread and roasted capsicum salsa (complimentary)

Gamba pincho: Seared Prawn Skewer with onion jam salsa and grated almonds $5 each

Higado de pato: Duck Liver Parfait, Fried Beetroot and Sourdough $14

Flores del calabacin: Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Goats Cheese, Pumpkin Seeds and Truffle Honey $18

Cabra: Goat Sausage with Red Cabbage and a Pedro Ximinez Glaze $25

Tarta de queso: Lime cheese cake with tequila jelly $15

Affogato with house made turkish coffee ice cream with a shot of espresso $10

The bill

2008 Mussel Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough $10, Perry Fizz Cocktail $10 (5-7 pm special)

2007 Hugel Gentil Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Riesling Alsace $11, 2008 Estate Cranswick Shiraz Barossa Valley $10


Decor and seating

Front deck area

Outside wet weather covering

Menu quotes

View Larger Map
Emmilou on Urbanspoon


Sarah Winehouse said...

Yay! Glad for you! Love them goat sausages. Your pics are way better than mine, but I reviewed while ago w Chris @ http://www.sarahvino.com/2010/03/emmilou-tapas.html Nice guy. See you soon!

Laura said...

great review. it looks like a beautiful place!

Forager said...

The dishes look great - that hunk of pate would do nicely for me thanks.

Madam Wu said...

This place is definitely style over substance. Awesome photos! Great interiors and atmosphere but the food tries too hard and is over-complicated, too rich and not harmonious at all. At least you received a huge discount but even that would not be enough for me to eat here again.

Tina said...

That is some VERY good looking tapas :)

Simon Leong said...

hi sarah, it was quite a challenge in the nice ambient light to get a good shot of anything actually. looks like you had some interesting dishes too.

hi laura, it would be quite nice on the front deck during summer having a quite drink and nibble on some tapas.

hi forager, i think the duck liver parfait was one of the highlights for me that i tried although a few more of the crispy crackers would have helped to finish it nicely. There was a lot going on with it though and i was wondering if it could have been kept a bit more simple like the French would do it.

hi madam wu, i think i know what you mean about trying a bit too hard and i think it could be perhaps a bit simpler on the plate. i usually appreciate simple clean flavours a lot more than ones that try to be too many things on the plate. there seems to be a lot of competition now for tapas in Sydney.

hi tina, they certainly take care in the presentation don't they. have you found any amazing tapas places of late?

Anonymous said...

It's a pity we didn't have such a great experience. Emmilou promoted an Oct special on their website, a tasting $80pp w wines. When we ordered they knew nothing about it & when shown the website w promo on iPhone, we were told it was a 'typo' & they wouldn’t honor it - Price: $80pp no wine & $135 w wines & in short take it or leave it.. When we asked to speak to the owner directly, but he refused to come out (even though the restaurant was basically empty), & again we were told end of discussion. We offered to meet in the middle & pay $100pp but they also refused this. To add further insult, they are promoting on Eatability another special for $99pp w wines. As a fellow business owner, I was appalled by the lack regard that the business owner had for his customers & the unwillingness to take ownership of the mistake or to simply offer a little sweetener to the customers he had falsely advertised to! Needless to say, we walked out & had an amazing dinner @BirdCowFish instead!

Simon Leong said...

hi anonymous, that sounds like such an unfortunate incident, for both the customer and the restaurant. i've had that happen to me before but not at Emmilou. i guess in the end the restaurant can do what they like but it sounds like they should have perhaps honored it or met half way as you suggested and even thanked you for pointing the error out to them so they could correct it promptly before it might have happen to other customers. glad to hear you had a great meal at BirdCowFish. a place i've yet to try but want to one day. :-)

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