2010 was the first Christmas and New Year’s I’ve spent in Melbourne since more than 10 years ago. I had clearly forgotten how deserted the city was on Christmas Eve so organised with Yuye to spend some time together at a tapas restaurant that day. We drove around the whole CBD and couldn’t find anything that we wanted to have because most places were closed! After a number of tries, we ended up in Prahran. As we walked along Chapel Street, we were suddenly drawn towards a gathering of people and what seemed to be lovely Spanish live music. As we walked closer, we noticed it was Basque Tapas and Wine.
Basque was established on busy Chapel Street in 2003 and provides authentic Spanish tapas, delicious wines and Friday/Saturday night live music by a band called Solo Porque. The atmosphere was very fitting and exciting, probably the best place to spend Christmas Eve that I could have found.
There were also nice furniture and decorations that make me think of Spain.
Yuye ordered a Spanish beer called Mahou Cinco Estrellas made by the company called Grupo Mahou San Miguel which was first made in 1969. It was a little sweet and very easy to drink, even for someone like me who doesn’t normally drink beer. I ordered a glass of Basque specially made Sangria. It was surprisingly delicious! For those of you who don’t know, Sangria is a type of Spanish wine punch made from red wine, fruit, sweetener such as honey, sugar or fruit nectar, cinnamon and a small amount of spirit. I’m not too sure what their recipe was but it was distinctly fruity, sweet and tasted a bit like diluted red wine.
We also ordered a number of tapas to go with the drinks and to fully enjoy the atmosphere. The first dish we ordered was Vieras con jamon con culi de piquillos for $14.50. This dish consisted of scallops wrapped in Serrano Jamon (a type of Spanish dry-cured ham) and piquillo couli (pepper puree). I thought the ham was a little too salty for my liking but Yuye found it to be just right. But it was definitely very tasty.
The second tapas dish we ordered was Berenjenas y tomates asados con un poco de queso manchego (how can anyone possibly pronounce this, I don’t know) for $13.50 – it was tomato and manchego cheese wrapped in roasted eggplant. I really liked this dish, it wasn’t salty or overpowering by any of the ingredients and worked well in harmony. I really like eggplant and really really like tomato so this dish was perfect for me :D.
We initially only ordered the last two dishes but obviously after tasting such lovely dishes, we couldn’t help but order more, so next up was Patatas Bravas which is fried potatoes sprinkled with pimienton served with aioli and brava sauce for $8.50. It was almost like a yummy dish of fat chips with lots of sauce on top. Brava sauce is a bit like tomato sauce mixed with herbs, except a lot better tasting. I like!
As our last dish for the night, there couldn’t be a more suitable one as the Albondigas con pisto de tomate – meatballs served with a Spanish style pisto sauce for $9.50. I liked it because it was tomatoey in flavour and meaty as well but did lack a bit of saltiness. It went great when dipped in a bit of the brava sauce which came with the potatoes though :).
We couldn’t really finish all the potatoes and meatballs because they were just so filling!! We sat around a bit longer to listen to the fantastic music and even purchased a CD by the Solo Porque which cost $20. Solo Porque has a website at http://soloporque.com/Welcome.html. They’re a guitar duo based in Melbourne and played fantastic and lively music that night. The music was what really made our night great so thank you Solo Porque!
Here’s a video on Youtube (found on their website along with many other videos) for my readers to have a listen to. I never really noticed just how catchy guitar music was.
Together with the great food (although a few tweaks would have gone a long way) and awesome service, it provided a whole lot of entertainment for Yuye and I who would have otherwise been quite bored. Although Basque’s rating on Urbanspoon doesn’t seem to be that great, but it’s a good idea to try it out for yourself.
Basque Tapas & Wine
Phone: (03) 9533 7044
159 Chapel Street, Prahran