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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Carrington $3 pintxos Tuesdays, Surry Hills

Sliders at The Carrington Surry Hills

It's no coincidence that I seem to have taken up residence at Sydney's pubs of late. Everyone loves a cheap eat and Sydney's watering holes have taken up the challenge with gusto. The Abercrombie offers $10 weekday lunches, The Norfolk has $4 mini burgers on Mondays; and at the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel you can score a 1kg steak on Thursdays for only $20.

On Tuesday nights you're best off heading to The Carrington, when head chef Jamie Thomas expands his Iberian-themed tapas menu with a selection of $3 pintxos blackboard specials.

Pintxos at The Carrington Surry Hills

The pintxos specials change every week, but there are usually five in total, available individually or served altogether on a wooden paddle for a fifteen dollar bargain.

While there's the proper restaurant at the back of the pub, the $3 pintxos are only served to the cheap seats in the front bar area. EDIT: Jamie Thomas has clarified that "Pintxos night is for everyone - not just the pub. We have one menu for the whole pub and our specials are available throughout.. I love my Tuesday nights and want people to be able to eat anywhere."  We arrive early enough in the evening to score a table in the alcove between the two areas, a cosy spot with banquette seating and a cluster of round cherry red tables.

Bar at The Carrington Surry Hills
Front bar at The Carrington

Pintxos (pronounced PIN-choss) are traditionally bite-sized snacks designed to be enjoyed with wine or beer. In Spain these are usually sitting on the counter of the bar, each snack speared with a toothpick for easy self-service. At the end of the night, patrons are simply charged by the number of toothpicks they have collected throughout the evening.

Ordering pintxos from a menu does break from the original spirit of impromptu snacking, but until Sydney gets its own version of Naked for Satan, we're not complaining.
The Carrington offers seven items on the standard pintxos menu, ranging in price from $4 to $6. Add five blackboard specials and there are twelve to choose from. We debate over which ones to order, and then, in what has become a disturbingly common pattern, order one of everything. No, make that two!

Pintxos spread at The Carrington Surry Hills
Pintxos for everyone!

Olives at The Carrington Surry Hills
Marinated olives

We've barely made a dent in our beers before our order starts arriving thick and fast from the kitchen. It's a chaotic scramble for space as our two tables are soon covered in dishes, much to the bemusement of the couple next to us ("Hey, are you guys like food bloggers or something?").

Chicken liver parfait at The Carrington Surry Hills
Chicken liver parfait and pear chutney $4 each 

A terracotta dish holds a bounty of marinated olives, glistening beneath the lights like Mediterranean jewels. However we're soon distracted by the chicken liver parfait, spread thickly on toasted baguette slices but quite mild in flavour, garnished with a chunky and sweet pear chutney.

Beef skewer at The Carrington Surry Hills
Chargrilled skirt steak skewer $3 each blackboard special

The chargrilled skirt steak skewers are our first blackboard special, a small metal skewer speared with cubes of flavoursome, if a touch chewy, beef.

Sobrasada at The Carrington Surry Hills
Sobrasada and honey $4 each

Sobrasada is a pork and paprika paste that is a Majorcan specialty. It's reminiscent of chorizo, and the addition of honey works well with the natural sweetness of pork, muting a little of the underlying spiciness.

Eggplant and anchovy tostada at The Carrington Surry Hills
Smoked eggplant and white anchovy tostada $3 each blackboard special

Our second $3 special is the tostada, daubed with a smokey eggplant puree and then topped with a solitary white anchovy and a sliver of chargrilled red capsicum. The white anchovy, staked with a toothpick, is a delight - tangy, salty and delicate on the tongue.

Have I mentioned the toothpicks? I'm enamoured at first sight, sturdy spears set with a carved wooden bead that seem a shame to discard after one use.

Kingfish pastrami at The Carrington Surry Hills
Kingfish pastrami on rye $4 each

I savour the wafer-thin slices of kingfish pastrami on their own, separating it from the bed of coleslaw which is a little heavy with mayonnaise for my liking. The pastrami has a yielding softness, firm but still pliable, with a pepper crust accenting its smokey brine flavour.

Iberico at The Carrington Surry Hills
Tomato bread and Iberico $4 each 

Okay I confess, I do like to eat my food separately sometimes. Case in point: Iberico ham. This sensual shaving of porcine bliss should not be bitten or eaten with other components, in my opinion. I pluck the Iberico off the top and unfold it languidly into the mouth, appreciating its sweet and fatty silkiness uninterrupted. I revel in the way it melts on the tongue as its gentle saltiness swells across the palate. Closing your eyes is entirely optional.

Happily enough, this pintxos combination is easily converted into a two-course affair. The hunks of bread have been toasted on the grill, giving an incredible charcoal flavour that I relish, moistened by fat slices of juicy ripe tomato and a caper berry to finish.
 Manchego and rosemary tortilla at The Carrington Surry Hills
Manchego and rosemary tortilla $3 each blackboard special

And if you're the kind of person who eats wafers by the layer, then the manchego and rosemary tortilla is your kind of bliss. It's a impressive construction of microscopically thin potato slices, baked to a creamy softness. This is the kind of dish I want to spend quality time with, peeling back each layer one slice at a time.

Meatball sliders at The Carrington Surry Hills
Meatball slider $6 each; calamari slider $6 each  
Classic beef cheek slider $3 each blackboard special

A wooden board of sliders can't fail to raise a round of smiles, the perky bricohe buns brushed with glaze and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

We start with the meatball slider --distinct with herbs -- before moving onto the beef cheek slider, filled with shreds of slow cooked beef that are rich and gelatinous. The blackboard special calamari slider is my favourite, a simple affair of tender deep-fried calamari married with buttery soft bun, squiggles of mayonnaise and peppery rocket leaves.

Paella ball with calamari at The Carrington Surry Hills
Paella ball with calamari $3 each blackboard special

Perhaps I squealed like a Japanese teenager when I clapped eyes on the pair of paella balls. How could I not when it looks like a baby octopus has been tipped upside down, its tentacles flailing mid-air?

Squid ink paella ball at The Carrington Surry Hills
Inside the paella ball

The paella ball is a variation on The Carrington's paella onigiri, the same squid ink rice formed into a ball and made into a mini arancini. The squid ink rice has the sweetness of the sea, the soft grains contrasted with a protecting orb of panko crunch. There's much to like, a mix of textures and flavours, crowned with the gently fried tentacles that we dip into the smooth puddle of spicy tomato sauce.

Dessert at The Carrington Surry Hills
Carrington Mess $14 

There's no dessert on the bar menu, but staff are happy to let us order from the Beba Y Cena restaurant menu. We finish with the Carrington Mess, an impressive construction of cream, berries, brown sugar meringue and passionfruit sorbet layered into a glass. The sorbet is tart enough to make you wink, but eaten together with the meringue, fruit and cream, it's a refreshing end to the meal.

Chef Jamie Thomas at The Carrington Surry Hills
Chef Jamie Thomas at the pass

Chef Jamie Thomas will usually tweet preview pics of the weekly specials every Tuesday afternoon. Follow him @jamiecarrington and @carringtonhotel.

View Larger Map

The Carrington
565 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9360 4714

Opening hours:

Pub open Monday to Saturday 12pm-12am; Sunday 12pm-10pm
Restaurant open 7 days 12pm-10pm
Tuesday $3 pintxos specials available 6pm-10pm (as at 29/04/12)

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Surry Hills - The Carrington
Surry Hills - El Loco
Surry Hills - The Norfolk on Cleveland

Pub grub - The Abercrombie, Chippendale
16 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/30/2012 12:30:00 am


  • At 4/30/2012 12:50 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    eat ALL the pintxos! mmm that was an awesome night, i need me some more paella balls!

  • At 4/30/2012 9:19 am, Anonymous Josh said…

    Why am I craving cured meats at 9am on a Monday morning! Yumbo

  • At 4/30/2012 9:21 am, Anonymous Shibu said…

    Interesting food choices..looked like a lot! Must try it out,good review!!

  • At 4/30/2012 10:34 am, Blogger Mel said…

    LOVE The Carrington, my dream is to eat ALL the Pintox. I took the little toothpicks hope and put them in my pot plants...they are great caterpillar removers. LOL.

  • At 4/30/2012 11:00 am, Anonymous Jasmin @Opining, Whining & Dining said…

    The paella balls do look fantastic! I love the idea of ordering everything off a menu. I just need a big enough group.
    Can't wait to try the food here.

  • At 4/30/2012 12:50 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    Looks like huge fun if you are with a likeminded crowd!! Nice choices, but the paella ball draws my attention also!

  • At 4/30/2012 12:58 pm, Blogger David said…

    "Perhaps I squealed like a Japanese teenager" - lol - Too much Adam Hills in Gordon St in your diet, Helen?

    These all look sensational!

  • At 4/30/2012 7:26 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Oh. Sadface. I was hoping it was pronounced pin-CHOSS! because food always tastes better when it sounds like you're yelling at the waiter. ;)

    Bahahaha! I, too, laughed at the octopus on the paella ball, but must admit that it looks more to me like a poledancer doing and upside-down flippy move. I can just imagine the octopus now: 'No, seriously you guys, poledancing is EMPOWERING; I'm dancing around almost naked to assert my own sense of dignity and octopus-hood, not to titillate the squid over there with the five dollar bills."

  • At 4/30/2012 8:06 pm, Blogger TheHungryMonkee said…

    OH WOW!! I would visit this place just for the paella balls! Yum Yum!!!

  • At 5/01/2012 8:17 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    Love how its all small portions so you can have a taste of EVERYTHINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG. Food looks ridiculously good.

  • At 5/01/2012 12:33 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    zomg $3 pintxos!! im so there

  • At 5/01/2012 1:57 pm, Anonymous Julia said…

    The paella balls are so cute! I've been wanting to try Naked for Satan for a while now. Will prob check it out this weekend

  • At 5/01/2012 4:25 pm, Anonymous SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said…

    Is there anything more fun than saying, "I'll have one of everything!" I keep reading about that kingfish pastrami. If I don't try it soon I'm going to be terribly disappointed in myself.

  • At 5/02/2012 11:08 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I feel like I'm the only one who hasn't made it to The Carrington yet. I'm definitely missing out.

  • At 5/02/2012 4:16 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    $10 burgers and paella balls - im there!

  • At 5/05/2012 12:06 am, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    Two of everything, yes please!! Loving the 'pub grub' around Sydney at the moment, we are so blessed.


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