Having been out for a three-course lunch at The Apprentice I need somewhere we can get something small for an early dinner in Surry Hills before going to a show at Belvoir St Theatre. Some internet research leads me to The Carrington which does $3 pintxos on a Tuesday! Pintxos, we discover, are the Basque equivalent of tapas, and The Carrington is a former seedy pub that’s been done up by the same guys who performed the trendy-treatment on The Norfolk in Redfern which serves tricked-up and rather tasty tacos. I arrive early and get a high table by one of the shuttered windows, which is just as well – not long after Mr T arrives the place is heaving. With bare brick walls and wooden floors, The Carrington still has the laid-back appeal of a pub but it’s been given a mini Spanish make-over with red and black lace lamp shades over the bar, cocktails with names like ‘gringo’s surprise’ and ‘el presidente’, and Spanish tiles in the cosy adjoining restaurant.
We go for the $15 plate of all five $3 special Tuesday night pintxos and a great deal of fun it proves to be, especially washed down with a Spanish beer, Estrella, which is on tap and served in stemmed, branded glasses. The pintxos arrive looking extremely festive on a wooden board and speared with long cocktail sticks. They sound equally festive: a pork belly slider with white cabbage slaw; a potato, chili and smoked cheddar tortilla; a chicken, pork and pine nut sausage role with Basque ketchup; a mini chorizo dog with chipotle mayo and red onion jam; and a deep-fried paella ball with fried calamari.
The slider has a decent thick hunk of pork in it and some extremely good, crispy crackling. The sausage roll is clearly of the lovingly handmade variety (as opposed to the ubiquitous frozen party-fare kind) and the accompanying ketchup tastes of sweet roasted capsicum and smoked paprika – we ask for a second bowl. The tortilla is, as you would imagine, the blandest of the five pintxos but it’s comforting with tender potato slices glued together with subtly smokey cheese. A very cute little fried baby octopus crowns the paella ball which inside has a sticky, black, seafood risotto-type concoction – a delicious Spanish twist on the aranchini ball – and sits in a puddle of paprika-coloured mayo. The mini spicy chorizo (too mini for our liking) is encased in soft white bun which oozes chipotle mayo and onion jam as you eat. Salty, spicy, tangy and creamy all in one go, we could happily eat several full-size versions of this. Our other favourites are the sausage roll and the pork belly slider so we order another of each of these three. What is it about pig products that makes them taste so good?!
565 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
Visited 8 May 2012