From The Four Seasons’ The Woods to Park Royal’s Abode, over the last year or so the quality of Sydney’s hotel dining scene has been on the up. The latest addition to said scene, Fino Par, may not be packing the punches of, say, the aforementioned more luxury brand, but it’s certainly an improvement on the hotel’s previous offering, with a focus on sweet, sweet Spanish simplicity.
Located on the ground floor of TFE’s Vibe Hotel in that Surry Hills-slash-CBD area south of Hyde Park, Fino Par already wins on decor. What used to be a garish lime-green and bright orange concoction called Curve Cafe is now a wide-opened, street-fronting, dark and semi-industrial diner designed by The Gentry.
While the giant reclining woman right at the back is a little more Greek than Spanish, on a balmy summer’s evening with the candles lit, the place exudes a welcoming atmosphere ideal for last minute dinners with mates. Big props to the designer too for covering the horrific bar back-lighting with slabs of holey wood, plus the large paprika cutlery tins are a nice touch.
Hiding inside tan leather, the tapas-focused menu, according to Chilean-born, executive chef Nelson Burgos (Foley Lane, Mamasita), is a combination of Spanish, Chilean and locally sourced produce. The man behind the booze is ex-Hello Sailor Brett Harris, who’s created a 100 percent Spanish wine list plus cocktails to boot, regularly centring around Spanish sherry and house, barrel-aged sangria.
We began with said sangria ($8) alongside a portion of the pig's ears ($12). The former, as you might expect, was fruity and refreshing. The latter, not so much, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t tasty. In fact, while unsurprisingly a little gristly (they are ears after all), drizzled in lime that earthy, meaty taste rides the sweet-citrusy wave.
Next we ploughed through some wonderfully doughy salted cod croquets ($4.50 each) served on a Spanish ceramic tile. Dunk these babies in the accompanying mayonnaise and you’ll be set. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, then we suggest the jamon board, shared between at least two ($25). The noticeable standout here is the spicy Morcon salami, although the bread is less artisan crisp and more supermarket soft. The absolute winners on the menu, however, are the scallop ceviche ($7.5), octopus carpaccio ($17) and asparagus tartare ($14).
The latter was my personal fave, replacing the raw meat with practically raw, juicy and crunchy asparagus, though the citrus soaked scallop with shaved macadamia and pickled chilli was a close second. A side of paprika patatas ($8.50) might blow your socks off if you’re not so good with spice. Luckily we had a chocolate torte with Earl Grey granita to follow, that while received mixed reviews from our table due to its unusual combo, was superbly revitalising.
Also open for breakfast and lunch, Fino Par is by no means the must-visit hot spot for all foodies, but it is a decent addition to the local area and puts what used to be in its place to shame. All in all, if you’re hankering for some Spanish and a nice glass of vino or two, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be disappointed.