No expense has been spared in making even Sean’s Tapas, the 'cheaper' side of Sean's into a place you want to dine. To show what I mean, we eyeballed the DJ box where they play music for four hours (9pm-1am) on Friday and Saturday nights and found it uses Technics 1200s - a fairly high end choice for such little usage.
Through the glass you can see a smoker's terrace, perfect for those who still indulge in these trying times. I was quite enamoured with the tiny red shaded lamps on each table, and the curtains of red fringing that divided the space from a neighbouring corridor.
The space also makes a great place to dine if you're dining by yourself, as there are plenty of nooks where you could enjoy a few glasses of wine, and a couple of plates of tapas without feeling odd. Pre-theatre diners are also taken care of with a menu that gives you 3 dishes for $35, 4 for $45 or 5 for $55 from a shorter menu, with the possibility of a jamon upgrade for an additional $20. We were started off with complimentary bread and meaty green olives, with a bowl of nice olive oil.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this restaurant is the best place to eat jamon in Sydney; and Spanish Chef Hugo Brihuega (and his visiting father) agree. A plate of Joselito Iberico de Bellota Grand Reserva ($37) from Sean’s expensive ham humidifier is the moistest aged pig in town; great length of flavour too. The photo above shows a selection of three hams. I was also really impressed with the smoky perfection of the Fermin Serrano ($14) on the left; it is made from white pigs and hung for twenty four months, it was smoky, moist and complex.
We also enjoyed a plate of Ortiz White Anchovies ($12) freshened with chopped parsley,
A Sangria Blanco ($13) will make you smile - it's a light, fresh, lemony spritzer style drink based on Martini Bianco mixed with a Semillion Sauvignon Blanc. The Sangria Rojo ($13) is equally good, though not as much to my own personal taste. Think fruit marinated for a week in Martini Rosso (instead of Brandy) with apple and cinnamon.
But do leave drinking space to explore the wine list, it’s all by the glass on the cheaper side of this two-fold restaurant. The 2007 Granbazan Albarino ($13 glass/$65 bottle) is a great, fighting white that stands up well to big flavours.
A 62 Degree Egg and Chips ($12) presents some comforting and more-ish carbohydrates. The egg is cracked and added at the table for a little performance art. It's a must-have dish here, and one of the best things I tried.
Or make it a Russian Salad ($12) if you want potato thinly disguised as a salad to impress a date (this is a sexy, red-lit space after all); you’ll be pretty happy. It comes decorated with soft boiled quail eggs and crispy jamon.
Goat’s Cheese Croquettes ($8) on a smoked paprika smear defy photography but shout chalky, creamy quality.
Choose the Paella for Two ($30) because it’s cooked in the serving pan. This is the version for one person, and as you can see, it is brimming with beautifully cooked seafood. The king sized pipis defiinitely attested to a chef who knows when to stop. You can also see Kinkawooka mussels and gorgeous big prawns, plus a bean that while unusual to me, is common and authentic to paella in the region of Valencia in Spain.
Shake any stigma that prevents you from enjoying great (subsidised) food at the Casino –nowhere else is serving a house-made spicy Chorizo ($16) this good for sixteen dollars! They are made by the restaurant from pork back fat, pork meat from the belly and the neck, aioli, oregano, salt and pepper. They taste so good you continue eating them long after you should, especially with a glass of 2007 Rojo Garnacha ($10 glass/ $45 bottle) from Castille, Spain. This is a great soft but vibrant straight grenache imported by a company cleverly named The Spanish Aquisition, which I really enjoyed.
If you’re strong you may not give into the temptation of Churros ($12) with their extreme chocolate dipping sauce; but I succumbed. Great clean oil made for nice little doughnuts. The ridges help get more chocolate sauce on them. This was a particularly intense chocolate sauce which made me wish for dulce de leche.
Casino dining has never looked more accessible and affordable. Swallow your reservations and exploit this under-priced restaurant with a genuine Spanish chef. They don't accept bookings, but there are a reasonable amount of tables, so I doubt you'd have much of a wait no matter when you went.
Level 2, Star City Casino, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9777 9000