Saturday, July 22, 2006

Colmao Flamenco

60 Johnston St Fitzroy 3065
(03) 9417 4131
Open: 7 days 6pm-1am
Closed: Good Friday, Christmas Day, New Years
Licensed, BYO, Corkage $3.5 Bottle
Cards All
Seats inside 50, Seats outside 18
The ‘Flamenco’ is one of the most vibrant, passionate and exciting dances – so it stands to reason that any restaurant clever enough to incorporate the word ‘flamenco’ in its name, would try to embody as many of those attributes as possible. Just like the legendary dance, Colmao Flamenco relies heavily on tradition – for the dance it’s cultural, for the restaurant it’s family.
Situated in the Spanish quarter of Melbourne, on the busy Johnston St, Colmao is easily discernable from the other little restaurants jostling for shoulder space – it’s the one with the cute flamenco dancer doll in the window. It was Friday night so we were prepared for the place to be packed, as it always is on the weekend, and sure enough when we walked in without a reservation the waitress smiled and took my mobile number to call me in 20 minutes when they had a table free. So the boy and I walked out and into the next door bar to have a Corona and listen to the band tune up for later.
20 minutes later and we’re seated on comfortably padded chairs in a much quieter restaurant. On the table we had salt, pepper, cutlery and cloth napkins – yay! Our menus were delivered and we settled back to decide on food. I had heard of the Sangria from Colmao before – almost the stuff of legend around Melbourne … and surely the drink of choice at the annual Latin Festival (in November). We ordered a litre ($15) which came in a real ceramic jug accompanied by two matching tumblers – perfect for keeping the Sangria chilled.
There is the menu with a selection of cold and hot entrees followed by the meat, fish and specialty dishes, there is also a blackboard above the bar with recommended dishes and then a ‘daily specials’ further left of the main board. In the menu you can choose from empanadas, fried sardines, patatas bravas, chorizo skewers, marinated green olives and octopus in tomato sauce. We chose the chorizo skewers and cod-fish fritters (from the recommended board) – the sausages were nicely grilled and smoky with paprika, a little chewy for my liking but the boy liked them. I really enjoyed the fritters, which came in a tiny tapas pan, all golden and fluffy swimming in a rich tomato and garlic sauce which begged for bread to sop up … mmmm..
So many mains to choose from but for us we couldn’t go past paella – that wonderfully golden Valencian dish of rice studded with chunks of chicken, fresh sweet prawns, New Zealand green-lipped mussels, olives and gloriously tender strips of calamari. The serving is for two – and believe me when I tell you its enough – can easily feed four. The rice was cooked perfect for a paella, some people complain when they encounter a bite to the rice, expecting a more risotto-like feel in the mouth but it’s normal for paella to have some al dente.
As full as you will undoubtedly be, you will have room for chocolate con churros (Spanish donuts with dipping chocolate). Four strips of dough deep-fried and tossed in cinnamon sugar cuddled up to a tiny shot-glass of melted chocolate – surely if there is a heaven and this is the dessert they serve for afternoon tea. Any dessert that lures you to stick your finger in the almost empty chocolate glass and lick with moans of pleasure will get my vote any day.


sublime-ation said...

I've yet to find anywhere Spanish as good as the sadly departed Boccadillos (even though the owners were Greek).
Last Spanish bar I tried in Johnston St was soooo disapointing, their patatas bravas had nothing on Boccas' and were way pricier.
But this review looks promising, shall have to try.

Mel said...

I never went to Boccadillos, wish I had now ... I didn't try their patatas bravas, but I know MoVidas had fairly average soggy ones -
I'll keep an eye and a mouth out for ya Sublime..

Chai said...

The dessert sounds good. Would have tried this place last weekend if I'd read this earlier. Went to the Fitz instead.

Anonymous said...

Colmao was nice but i wanted to try another place so i went two doors up to Kanela Flamenco bar... It was really amazing! The best paella i've had in a long time (sorry colmao).
Flamenco was not just part of their name, there was a Flamenco show on!! Dancing, singing ... the works! I was really happy i decided to try... something different.

And the Flamenco group used to play at Boccadillos!! small world.

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