colmao flamenco

>60 Johnston Street Fitzroy

With one gluten-free dining companion and another that doesn’t eat anything that swims, where does one go for dinner? Not Italian. Not seafood. Not Thai: we had that the week before. I know, I thought: tapas and a nice bottle of Spanish red. Perfect for an unseasonably cold April night.

Our original destination on Johnston Street was the bar next door. Kanela looked inviting enough until I realised that it was the very bar upon which I had danced – sober – on a birthday night out years ago. I am not sure if I thought somebody in there would recognise me, with more than ten years gone by and a good 10kg piled on. Anyway, it did not seem right so we headed to Colmao.

We were greeted by a friendly face, white starched tablecloths and a neighbouring table of Spanish people: a family celebrating a birthday. Promising. I was delighted to see one of my favourite Spanish wines on the list. The 2001 Pata Negra Valdepeñas was not as divine as the 1991 Gran Reserva, but it was still fabulous: a welcome change from an Australian wine.

We ate. A lot. It was all finger-licking delicious: well, except for the tortilla which should be the best bit but was a bit tired-looking and – dare I say – microwaved? The patatas bravas were crinkle-cut and perfectly cooked. The capsicum-laden spicy sauce was not for me but I bravely ate around it.

The garlic prawns were garlicky and full of chilli. The albondigas were firm in a lovey tomatoey sauce. The Champinoñes Maytip, sautéed in oregano, olive oil and white wine, were new to me but full of flavour. The chorizo was braised in tomato, onion, garlic and white wine. The baby octopus was delivered in a clay pot in a rich caramelised sauce full of green peas. To die for.

We ordered more albondigas, more garlic prawns. We knew we would be hell to sit beside next morning but to hell with it.

We ordered another bottle of Pata Negra. Silly not to.

In the end, full to pussy’s bow and with Swine Flu seriously warded off with all that garlic, we gave up. Well, what I mean is that I ordered flan and we shared it. However, after all that red wine I am afraid I cannot really remember if it was good or not.

On some nights at Colmao they have a flamenco singer and guitarist. Must go back for that and some more of those garlic prawns.

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