I'm fortunate enough to often be given recommendations for restaurants. Sometimes I can get to them quickly but sometimes it takes me a while to get to them but I never forget them. Sometimes it takes a couple of years. I was recommended Jah Bar by tweeter @helencrozier. As a north side local she let me know about this tapas placed tucked within a side street alongside busy Manly beach. It was close enough to smell the salt air but hidden enough to feel a bit special.
There is the back courtyard which feels a bit like being in the midst of a restaurant within a resort. When you look up there are apartments that look like hotel rooms with towels hanging on railings and people relaxing on their balcony in board shorts and bikinis. There is set of gates where people go back and forth from the apartments, another restaurant and the beach. Inside is more romantic, all darkly lit red walls and candles. Service is very friendly and easy going in that relaxed Manly way and when we ask if it is ok to take photos they answer with a "Sure! You can do whatever you want!" Ha! We love how relaxed Manly people are :)
Jamon Serrano; cured spanish ham $11.50
We go with the waiter's recommendations. The jamon serrano, a 9 month cured ham comes out with their complimentary bread and salt flecked olive oil. The jamon, lovely thin sliced of salty ham are good although I still love jamon iberico just that much more.
Chorizo sliced & grilled, hot or mild with sofrito $10.50
We were asked if we wanted mild or hot chorizo and we ordered the hot. Both of us are pretty tolerant to heat and so didn't find this particularly spicy but it had a nice meat garlic hot and crisp edges. And we both liked the rich, fiery red sofrito tomato sauce that it came with (and should have kept some bread the mop it up with).
Paprika spiced cauliflower with pequillo pepper $11
You know those dishes that you see and just want to replicate at home? This was one of them. The cauliflower came out with a scarlet edged tinge to it and cut into small, flavour packed, spicy florets.
Slow roast pork belly with house made quince paste $22
The pork belly had that wonderful combination of soft, gelatinous, wobbly layers topped with a crunchy crackling top. Without the quince paste, your first instinct is to say that it was unseasoned but paired with the quince paste on the bed of silverbeet, garlic and French lentils, it goes together very nicely. It's also a very rich dish and I think that perhaps we were too ambitious with our ordering (hey, what's new?).
Empanadas $4.50 each with chimichurri
There were two Argentinean style empanadas to choose from including a corn and a beef one so we order one of each to share. They're both quite different, the beef is sweet, saucey and slow cooked whereas the corn is fresh and light and more summery. The pastry is excellent on both being very thin so that you get a good ratio of filling and pastry.
It is starting to rain so we head inside where the paella which is cooked to order is served. There are two sizes, the regular and the large and the regular in itself is a generous serving replete with whole prawns, squid, chorizo with the rich aroma of seafood stock and saffron. There are lime wedges on the side to give it acidity.
Churros $10 (oops yes that is me tweeting ion the background)
We have barely enough room to fit in dessert so we share one - there is also crema catalana but as I make this at home and don't tend to make churros at home due to my deep frying phobia, the churros win out. They come out as four unevenly sized sticks with a super crunchy outer and soft inside. The chocolate sauce that it is served with is tempting enough to sip from the cup by itself - and yes I may have done so effectively making oneself a very indulgent hot chocolate! ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, do you take restaurant recommendations from strangers or mainly friends or people that you know? And do you often recommend restaurants to others?
Oh and it's Wallpaper Wednesday time again! Today's wallpaper is from yesterday's post with the vegan chocolate cake! I hope that you like it!
9-15 Central Avenue, Manly, NSW, 2095
Tel: +61 (02) 9977 4449