Saturday, June 20, 2009

subterra sangre

it's been raining in sydney for what seems an eternity. with the advent of winter, nesting urges kick in & the womb of the earth sucks us down. we come in peace seeking shelter, sustenance & perhaps a dash [or two] of sangria...

enter subsolo, an undergound haven in the thick of sydney's CBD. only thing lacking from the tapas bar is an enormous fire to complete this hidden gem amongst the 4 magic C's of a girl's best friend's precinct on king & castlereagh where others seek refuge in the cut, colour, clarity & carat of prestigious designer & jeweller retailers above.

me, i'll stick with the basement oozing rich warm tones of blood & brown allowing the leather & organic fibre surrounds to comfortably caress curves like maurice sendak's max melting through the walls. we are embedded within de toro bravo, the city beast. it's cold out & there's no reason to leave. the spanish influenced cocktail selection needs to be researched in greater depth until the wild things from within come out to play & are crazy enough to go back out to face the on/off umbrella-begging fray.

we could be under rivington st in the lower east side, new york -- this place has a latent hum which needs to be explored one late night leaning over the bar with both hands & ears full of tastes & sounds... it feels decidely un-sydney especially for the two dimensional lack-lustre CBD and if anything needs to get a little dirtier/sexier. still, there are a lot of lawyers lunching here.

you can actually get a mini fire at your table when the toffee-coated crème brulée is flambéed... but before we get that far the signature drink: sub sangria must be experienced pronto! a lively mixture of havana club blanco, curacao, sweet vermouth with seasonal fruits, soaked in tempranillo has me wanting to drag davey our resident punk monk apprentice sommelier down so we can perfect our own staple ALGAE RHYTHM blend.

it barely touches the sides as i reach for more & distant internal warning bells start to ring. this aint no 7-11 slushie & there's plenty more to be achieved before this friday is over. with two hangovers already under the belt for the week something closer to abstinance should be on my cocktail chart. the principle of give-and-take overrides, so we move onto the wine list muga garnacha-viura – rioja [rosé] then mantel blanco, 06 sauvignon blanc - rueda... compromise need not be a dirty word.

after the sublimely delicious spanish olives & warmed parika smoked almonds are rabidly consumed a selection of tapas start streaming onto the table in wonderfully orchestrated perfectly timed waves. the best is saved for first & all i can hear above the appreciative groans is my friend, john uttering repeated declarations of love that "these are the best mussels i've ever had". it's true: the steamed mussels in tomato, green olive and chilli broth are very very good.

next are the crispy bacalao croquettes with aioli --a salted cod afficiondo's wet dream, sadly we're not but persevere nonetheless & are rewarded by a palette that slowly embraces the sodium assault. after all, i do snack on maldon flakes at parties...

the successive wave brings field mushrooms topped with pistachio & currant couscous to negotiate along with batatas bravas before we finish later with crispy gambas fritas with chilli & lime. gotta love those school prawns. yum, except the bravas are too much like wedges for my taste... there's so many cool things you can do with potatos even when you're not irish. i'm quietly disappointed but at the same time realise my special request has been catered for so i should just shut up & suck back on the carbs [followed by more wine which is of course excellent]. followed by dessert which is so much fun to crack amélie poulain style with spoon firmly in hand. aaah...

subsolo is open for lunch all day tuesday - saturday & it's definitely my new inner city wintry oasis from the grey cold inanimate combat zone above in a city dotted by phony hemmes factories. but what i'm really looking forward to is coming to explore one evening soon. as a pre or post theatre venue its location & vibe are positioned perfectly. now all that is required is to find someone to take me out to the theatre as well as lunch... not all idioms need be true.


  1. I am starting to worry you're going to fit in the MG my dear all these food posts :)

  2. so is this an extended campaign to make me jealous by going to every great restaurant in sydney?

  3. simon: i've been a lady who lunches on fridays for many years & have managed to avoid elephantine proportions thus far. granted the winter padding has been added for the year & will be shed only when you finish getting my namesake complete. spring is good for me.

    bastardang: i'm sorry. you can lick the screen if it makes you feel better. :)

    sometime i'll have to come review one of your glorious bake-offs. those restaurant chefs could learn a thing or two from your kitchen prowess. your apple strudel stole my heart.

  4. Lets see, I am about 72kg and you won't weigh more than me. The battery is behind the driver on the right hand side but I imagine your average geek girls gadget handbag should balance the weight of that out nicely!