The Carrington is one of the 62 or so pubs in the inner west to undergo a bit of a makeover in the kitchen recently. Rather than going the typical gastro-pub or "dude food" route (quick, argue about which phrase is more irritating; I only use them because you love them so much), they've instead followed the more meritorious (and merry) path of chucking some Spanish food out the back.
How good is Spanish food, guys?!
The fairly tired, watered-down tapas joints of Liverpool St in the city are still going strong, but they've been joined by places like Miro and Kika which dress things up a little bit and places like Bodega, which reimagines, adds other influences and executes perfectly.
Beba Y Cene is the name of restaurant out the back of the pub and the menu is a pretty tempting, Spain-wide split between meat and cheese plates, pintxos, tapas and main plates.
The jamon iberico is really quite delicious (and hand-sliced by the looks of it), made even better with some poached pear and toast to bring it together. It's the first of many dishes that will use the savoury/sweet contrast that brings Spanish food to life and excites the palate.
Excellent chorizo, poached with pear in pear cider plays on the other Spanish philosophy of keeping food simple and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. It's an uncomplicated dish, but totally delicious and warming.
You don't see pintxos around much, so it's great to see them here. While all of the ones we tried were good, the star of the show for me was the chicken liver parfait, spread thick over the toasted bread, with a little pear chutney on top to add that sweet kick.
Another hopelessly moreish dish is the croquettes filled with jalapeno and smoked cheddar. Squeeze a little lemon on it and you'll find it simultaneously frustrating and fortunate that there is a finite amount of them in the bowl.
From the main plates section, it's hard to ignore the appeal of beef cheeks poached in pedro ximenez with corn puree and parsley salad. While the cheeks were perfectly rich and fall-apart tender, I would have liked the sauce to be a bit "bigger". After a parade of savoury/sweet items, some sticky, sweet pedro ximenez gravy to kick the meat up a gear would have gone down an absolute treat.
The dessert menu is pretty small, offering the standard choices of creme catalan and churros, as well as a more elaborate banana split. They're a good end to the meal, but the savoury menu held a lot more appeal for mine.
Drinks are another highlight, with a short wine list offering some nice offerings, a solid list of cocktails (by the glass or jug) and plenty of different beer.
The Carrington appears to be aiming for solid Spanish food with a few little twists, filling that gap between the more standard Spanish elsewhere in Sydney and the more refined offerings at Bodega. That they definitely achieve, making the place a very solid visit. Their pintxos specials on Tuesday look like an awesome reason to visit too.
RATING: Will return to [?]