What is it?
Cauliflower fritters in chickpea batter, with green chilli pickle ($9.50). The Japanese have long been aware that battering and deep frying vegetables is the way to go, and it would appear that the Spanish are onto it as well. The wholesomeness of cauliflower heads, plus the fatty goodness that comes with anything being battered is offset by the tang of the green chilli pickle. It’s an entrée that’s a bit different and the fact that it comes bite size pieces for easy sharing, makes the decision to indulge very easy.
Where do I get it?
Barrio, a restaurant with a Spanish name, but a more broadly Mediterranean menu located in the heritage-listed Ivanhoe fire station. Moody lights, dark nooks, great service, you get a complete dining experience without too much fuss, and some serious romantic atmosphere to boot. Booking is a good idea, especially for the weekends, but you might get lucky if you walk in on a week night. Owned and run by Paul Rae, formally of Bottega (Bourke St CBD) and Italy 1 (Camberwell), and with acclaimed chef Henry Honner running the kitchen, these guys know what they’re doing.
What should I order?
Once seated the staff will quickly swoop in to advise of the daily specials, which we recommend investigating. Otherwise, get a mainstay like the tender North African lamb tagine, vegetable cous cous and yoghurt ($29.50). Or try their twist on standard gnocchi. It comes with sautéed turnips, pear, gorgonzola, sage and roasted walnuts ($26.50).
If you have enough room for desert, try the rich chocolate and date pudding with caramel sauce and home made vanilla ice cream ($14.00). It’s not on the set menu but has been so popular with regulars that it’s been a permanent feature on the specials menu for the last few months.
There's a comfortable wine list compromising of mostly Australian wines, with bottles starting at a cheap and cheerful $35. They also do local boutique beers (3 Ravens Blonde) and a cocktail of the day for $12-15, but we recommend you take advantage of the well priced vino.