From San Sebastien to Sydney: Deux Freres' Basque Pintxos Adventure

Deux Freres, Circular Quay

Deux Frères is a Basque style pintxos bar on Loftus Lane in Circular Quay. Inspired by the bars of San Sebastien the menu is made up of a range of pintxos and Basque specialties. So what is it like and what are the must orders?

Deux Freres, Circular Quay

Deux Frères means "two brothers" in French and is a brother restaurant to the French restaurant Bouillon L'Entrecôte around the corner by Johan Giausseran and Vincent Ventura. Pintxos are small snacks served up all over Basque country bars in Northern Spain. They're bite sized snacks served on toothpicks or skewers, their name coming from the Spanish word "pincho" or cocktail sticks.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay

Deux Frères has a very cute fit out with a good sized outdoor section to an elbow to elbow inside section as well as bar seating around the petite open kitchen. We take a seat at a tiny square table set on the diagonal and can't help but overhear the conversation at the table right next to us. Honestly it's absorbing and a little like listening to a soap opera so we settle in with drinks.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
Sangria and Vermouth $12 each

I start with a glass of the red sangria, at $12 for a 75ml glass it's the perfect size for me. Mr NQN enjoys a vermouth and memories come back of our time in Vermuterias in Spain. Mr NQN's DNA test revealed that he has a significant amount of Basque ancestry and he feels an affinity with Basque country. He half jokingly says, "This feels like home."

Deux Freres, Circular Quay

The menu has a range of goodies from conservas (tinned items), jamons freshly sliced to order, croquetas, pinxtos, house tapas and items grilled on the Hibachi for something more substantial.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
Gravlax Pinxtos $8, Foie Gras Pinxtos $12 each

We start with the pintxos, one with house-made gravlax edged in dill and crème fraiche. The salmon is cold smoked for two hours on apple wood, cured for 24 hours and air dried for 48 hours. It is paired with a generous dollop of crème fraiche on a white baguette slice. My favourite is the toasted brioche with a square of foie gras and sweet onion jam, a classic combo for a reason.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
House Croquetas $8 each

There are three types of house croquetas and we try the ham and cheese and confit duck croquetas. They're both delicious, creamy inside and crunchy on the outside and fall apart soft. The ham and cheese is stronger in flavour but they're both worth trying. The croquetas are served with a generous shaving of Ossau Iraty on a bed of sauce gribiche to make this richer but balanced in texture.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
Bidaia Txakolina

One of the more interesting wines in Northern Spain is Txakoli (pronounced chah-kuh-lee) that is slightly sparkling, low alcohol, high acid wine with a very dry finish so perfect for richer dishes like the croquetas and pintxos. They pour at the table from a height that gives it more bubbles.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
Goats Cheese Stuffed Tomato $19

The goat's cheese stuffed tomato is one of my favourite dishes. It's a large tomato, skinned and stuffed with goat's cheese and topped with a black olive crumb in a dish with a sweet vinegar glaze and olive oil. Make sure to get some extra bread to scarpetta the delectable olive oil and vinegar. Head Chef Lander Liou explains that the moist and tangy goat cheese is imported from Loire region in France and then flavoured with local garlic and herbs while the vinegar is a balsamic reduction mix with La Tapia syrup made in Spain from Pedro Ximenez. The olives in the black olive crumb are harvested in Spain from September through January.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
Tortillas de Patatas $18

When I saw the table next to us get their tortilla, I was excited for ours to arrive. The potato tortilla is made to order so that the inside is still gorgeously unset and gooey. It is filled with tender, diced potato and caramelised onions and is a very tasty version of this.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
Piperade Basque $16

I would not have expected my favourite dishes to be the vegetarian ones but the stuffed tomato and this piperade Basque are so delicious. The Piperade Basque is made of sautéed onion, pepper and tomato seasoned with piment d'esplette with a sunny side egg on top. The egg is just cooked so that the yolk is runny and whole thing melds perfectly when the yolk is punctured. It has a modest amount of spiciness to it from the Piment d'Esplettte and honestly if I weren't so full I would have devoured this. As it is, Mr NQN is a huge fan of this polishing it up in no time. I was so taken by this piperade that I have made a version of this which I will share on my blog tomorrow!

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
Txistorra Chorizo $18

Txistorra or Chistorra is a type of chorizo and it is the most well known type of sausage in Basque country. While chorizo is fully cured, Txistorra is semi cured only for a few days so it needs to be cooked before eating. Here it comes out curled up on top of the back of a terracotta pig and is cooked with cider glaze and then finished at the table with calvados and set alight. The sausage is good although a small lament was that I wish we hadn't finished the piperade because it would have gone well with it.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
Blood orange sorbet $14

There are a few options on the dessert menu and we are trying a couple of them. The blood orange sorbet is refreshing and served in a hollowed out orange shell. Perfect for a warm summer's night.

Deux Freres, Circular Quay
"The Real" Basque cake of the day $14

The basque cake of the day today is Gateau Basque. I'm usually not a huge fan of Gateau Basque (sorry!) as it is usually quite dry but this version is served warm so that it feels like it is freshly baked and filled with a generous amount of pistachio almond cream and cherries that makes the pastry less dry with the generous amount of filling. It's nice although I think I'd probably go for the Crema catalana or churros instead or that sorbet instead.

So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever tried Basque food or pintxos?

NQN and Mr NQN were guests of Deux Freres but all opinions remain her own.

Deux Frères

6 Loftus Ln, Sydney NSW 2000

Monday to Friday 11:30 am–10 pm

Saturday 3:30–10 pm

Sunday closed

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