Housed in Avondale's Woodworks Café on an unassuming street corner, you'd be forgiven for thinking this place wasn't even open when walking or driving past in the evening. However, step over the threshold and you will be greeted by a bustling Spanish/Mexican themed permanent pop-up called Etxeberria.
Although the decor is stark in a warehouse style setting, a warm atmosphere immediately envelops you as you walk in. The warmth comes from the passion and enthusiasm of the staff. They are very proud of the menu and the exciting twists on the traditional Spanish and Mexican influenced food they are serving.
A very unexpected and pleasant surprise was the delivery of our dishes by chef Javier Carmona who was the former executive chef of Beirut, Mexico, Orleans and Oaken. He personally served us our dishes and explained in detail what inspired each dish, what they consisted of and how he had executed each one. A fascinating insight into the process behind each dish.
The menu is short but varied, and is split into four sections: entrees, main dishes, sides and dessert. There is also a decent wine list featuring wines both by the bottle and the glass, as well as a selection of beers. From the entree section we sampled the squid ceviche and the pork belly. The squid was delicate and thinly sliced and served on top of marinated plums; the pork belly was served with fried bread.
We sampled the goat for our main course with a side of patatas bravas. The goat had been slowly cooked and as a result it was fall apart tender. The patatas bravas were a bit different from the way this dish is usually served. Instead of cubed potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce, they were large round fritter style potatoes sprinkled with feta. Absolutely delicious.
We could't resist ordering the churros for dessert. These had been sprinkled with sugar and long pepper which gave a fiery kick. They went perfectly with the chocolate sauce topped with mandarin gel.
Currently only open from Thursday to Saturday evenings, we hope Etxeberria becomes a permanent fixure in the Auckland food scene.