Sunday, December 11, 2011
El Capo, Surry Hills
The list of Sydney restaurants to visit seems to grow perpetually longer, never shorter as new places pop up in Sydney all the time. We’re a little bit spoiled for choice here, I’ll admit. A restaurant I’d been meaning to visit since it opened is El Capo, part of a trifecta of good eating on Waterloo St in Surry Hills including Orto Trading Co and Izakaya Fujiama, where I experienced a most embarrassing horror for a food blogger – a flat camera battery!
El Capo is a little bit naughty (it’s good food for bad people as the tagline goes) and a lot of fun, with a modern take on Latin and South American street food. I was dining with Denéa, for an overdue birthday dinner before she left the country for months. Sniffle. The menu looked fantastic, and as usual we overestimate our stomach capacity. The menu has a variety of dishes from snacks to salads, to more substantial entrees and mains.
We start with some drinks. My order is typically “the one that has ginger beer in it” which tonight means a Dark and Stormy with El Dorado dark rum, lime and ginger beer. Perfect. Denéa chooses the Cable Car, which is a combination of Spiced Rum, Cointreau, fresh lemon and mint, which was a little too sweet for her taste, so she orders a Negra Modelo beer as well.
If there’s guacamole on the menu, I’m physically unable to go past it so of course we had to order it. And happily, it was one of the best guac’s I’ve ever had in Sydney – really well seasoned, with a bit of texture since it was not mashed to buggery. The recipe may be a secret, but I have to say, my homemade version was nearly as good.
I’ve said it before but I am loving seeing so many versions of roasted or BBQ corn on restaurant menus all over Sydney. El Capo’s was served simply without cheese or mayo or herbs, just rolled in chipotle, and damn was it good. I also fell in love with the Beef Tartare ‘La Barbie’ which was served piled onto crunchy black pepper corn chips.
It was a tough choice between the Sticky Pork Ribs and the Braised Pork Tamales Vaporcitos, but I’d never tried tamales before and wanted to give them a try. Denéa had fond memories of eating monster sized ones back in America. El Capo’s tamales were filled with red chilli braised pork that just fell apart under your fork, and served with a spiced caramel and sesame seeds. I couldn’t get enough of the tender pork and the delicious corn exterior – a really great dish.
We also decided to order the special of the day, a Jamaican Goat Curry. It was a bit more spicy than I had expected, but I loved the tender goat meat in this tasty curry.
Everything had been intensely awesome so far, but the desserts kind of stole the show. I’m in love with Tres Leches cake, made from three kinds of milk. El Capo’s version was perfect and beautifully presented, served with dulce de leche, ice cream, strawberries, malt and double cream. This is for those with a true sweet tooth, and we practically licked the bowl clean.
But oh, the buñuelos! Denéa eloquently compared them to a “deep fried orgasm… in syrup” and she might have been onto something there! The little ricotta doughnuts were served with cream and a spiced palm sugar syrup. The doughnuts themselves were so light and totally delicious. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite between the Tres Leches cake and these amazing doughnuts, so make sure you save room for dessert and get both!
So while it’s finally been crossed off the list of restaurants to visit, it’s firmly placed on the list of places I’d love to go back to. Because there’s still Grits and Pork, Chiccaron, Beef Short Ribs, and Duck Mole to try…
El Capo – 52 Waterloo St, Surry Hills (02) 9699 2518
El Capo, Surry Hills