It's early Friday evening and the plaza in Lane Cove, Sydney, is buzzing with activity. I've noticed it getting busier over the past few years as the council has made it more child-friendly, and tonight there are families with kids out enjoying the late Indian summer weather, including a group of three cheeky little girls dressed as unicorns.
I'd been invited by Matthew and Mareketa Lines to sample some of the tapas-style dishes at Lodge Tapas, a new modern Australian fusion restaurant which looks out over the plaza. It's busy when we arrive, full of families with kids devouring spag bol and calamari and chips. By 7.30pm -8pm, most of the families have disappeared to be replaced by couples and small groups (on Friday nights, a complimentary glass of wine is offered after 8pm to diners).
Ex Aria chef, Kyoung Sub Cha, offers a wide eclectic range of tapas dishes. His zucchini fries with garlic aioli are very popular, as are the double-cooked pork belly with apple puree served with grilled Canadian scallops and home-made vegetable chips, and the mushroom arancini with parmesan and truffle oil. I can recommend the pork belly which is perfectly cooked with a crispy top and garnished with apple jelly, apple puree and topped with an apple chip.
We also enjoyed the herb-rubbed lamb cutlets which came with a wild rice salad one of the dishes on the mains list. For dessert, chef offered a delicious “Aussie Mess” which consisted of meringues, lemon curd, mascarpone and fresh fruit and berries: light and not too heavy.
There’s also a separate Mexican menu which includes nachos, tacos, fajitas, burritos and Mexican pizzas. On the night we visited, chef had prepared home-made tacos with a scallop ceviche. The scallops had been marinated in a citrus sauce and sat on a bed of shredded lettuce inside flower-shaped tacos and topped with sour cream, wild taco sauce and a little jalapeño chilli. Tasty and very more-ish, especially if accompanied by a traditional Margarita.
Chef kindly shared one of his tapas recipes with me so that you can taste his style of cooking at home.
- Yield : 4
- baby calamari tubes - 4-6, cleaned
- chorizo - 1, finely chopped
- feta cheese - 50g
- panko breadcrumbs (dried Japanese breadcrumbs) - 25g-30g
- egg - 1 , beaten
- spinach - freshly chopped, a handful
- garlic - 2 cloves
- parsley - 1/4 bunch, chopped
- Napoletana sauce or tinned crushed tomatoes - 200ml
- white wine - 150ml
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- olive oil or vegetable oil - 10ml (2 teaspoons)
Ccombine the chorizo, spinach, fetta cheese, breadcrumbs and egg in a bowl and mix together well.
Divide the mixture into four and fill each calamari tube with the stuffing, securing the tubes with a toothpick.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until smoking hot.
Seal the calamari on both sides, then add the white wine and Napoletana sauce.
Turn down the heat and leave to simmer until the sauce has reduced and the calamari is cooked. Scatter with the chopped parsley.
Remove from heat and serve immediately.