|That saucy minx, Rio|
….having Tapas & Cocktails with your BFF on a Wednesday at lunch time. Why is she my BFF? We share a taste for the finer things in life including Duran Duran, the song ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’, cats, tequila, gossiping and delicious Spanish morsels. In fact, I met my BFF at school 30 years ago when we bonded over the seminal image of ‘Rio’ on her folder. ‘Do you like Duran Duran?’ I asked her, in the stair well. ‘Yes’, she said. ‘OK then. We catch the same bus home so I’ll see you at the bus stop this afternoon. What’s your name?’ ‘Jenny.’ And so, a friendship blossomed.
Last week, I took my Jenny to Olé at South Bank to celebrate her birthday. I had been to Olé once before for breakfast and thought that on this particularly warm spring day, it would be just the ticket for relaxed lunch. Olé is one of the many restaurants that line Little Stanley St and is perfect for a birthday lunch, with it’s casual, open air seating overlooking the lawns of South Bank. I had a choice of a table or sitting on stools at a bar. This Duran Fan is not a fan of stools with no backs so, a table it was.
I had every intention of ordering a jug of Sangria, as a lighter lunch time alternative to wine but the Tinto De Verano Cocktail ($10) caught my eye so we started with a couple of those. Tempranillo, pineapple anise syrup, lemon juice and lemonade – it was just the refreshing start we were after as we sat down to a natter. We had loads to catch up on and as is always the case, it took a few visits from the waitress before we ordered. We mulled over the bar menu and lunch menu, ordering a selection of tapas and slightly larger raciones.
Warm Spiced Almonds were an early delivery to enjoy with the drinks and my goodness, what a generous portion for $4. The almonds were quickly followed by the first tapa, Bolita De Garbanzo or Chickpea Fritters ($9.50). Admittedly, I thought the fritters would be flat but they arrived as balls of spiced chickpea paste that had been deep fried and served with a tomato relish. Perhaps a touch too brown, they were none the less generous in portion and tasty enough. Good for soaking up the alcohol.
Speaking of drinks, we looked for a lighter option to accompany the meal. In this case, a 750ml bottle of Spanish sidre (cider) at 4.9% alcohol. Served under cork in a champagne style bottle, it was crisp and refreshing and light enough to ensure we weren’t snoozing on the bus home.
Next to arrive was the stand out dish of the afternoon Pulpo Con Chorizo (Octopus w Chorizo Sausage $9.50). Served in a traditional tapas bowl with plenty of mint and parsley, it was was tender (the octopus), spicy (the chorizo) and deliciously caramelised. Order two of these if you go.
Our racione of Mejillas De Carne (Beef Cheeks Braised in Pedro Ximinez $19) was luscious, rich and meltingly tender. It came with a fair catering of new spring peas with I generously offered to my BFF, peas not being a taste we share (yet we’ve made it through 30 years!). We paired this with a salad, Ensalada De Naranja E Hinojo (Orange, Shaved Fennel and Dill $9) to help cut through the dark, sticky PX sauce. The salad was fresh and cooling but could have been a little more perky. Perhaps if it was little earlier in the season, the oranges may have been tangier but as it was, the salad could have done with a zingy dressing, to elevate the flavours of the individual components.
We had no intentions of having a dessert but how could we resist sharing the Helado De Pedro Ximinez ($12)? Two large scoops of creamy PX icecream with candied pistachios and syrupy figs, it was a heavenly combination. I would go out on a limb and say this is the best dessert in a restaurant I have had all year.
We both could have sat there all afternoon, but common sense told us it was a school night and there were other pressing matters. We paid the bill and waved each other off, content in the knowledge that there were plenty more birthdays to share. I really enjoyed our meal at Olé and can’t find fault with the food or service. I’d recommend it for afternoon drinks, catch ups, pre theatre nibbles and even breakfast (I had an excellent and hearty Poached Eggs w Manchego Cheese & Olives $12.50).
Finally, Happy Birthday to the person who helped my BFF and I to bond all those years ago – Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran who’s birthday is actually today (27 Oct).
|Simon Le Bon – 54 year young!|
Shop B12 Little Stanley St
South Bank Qld 4001
Visited: Wednesday 18th October 2012 – Lunch Service