You know a restaurant is doing something right when you, and your pesky friends, have changed the booking four times, yet you continue to be accommodated. As we rock up to Duende, with barely a spare chair observed (other than our table for eight plus a baby), we are even more thankful our initial booking of five was able to be changed.
It is a big catch up with old uni friends and some of our other halves. We have many reasons to share a few drinks and a meal and as usual it has been too long. It is for this reason that I completely forgot to get the camera out, so this particular review is bereft of any of my amateur photography.
A couple of Moritzs in and we have started to be served some of the dishes we decided to order. The idea is more to share some food over a few drinks, rather than a big meal, so we order some smaller share plates, and not the reasonably priced banquet. The croquettas are a nice start (as usual), and we also have one each of the mini-paellas, which are single serves wrapped in a vine leaf with prawn and chorizo mixed through the rice.
The staff were great all night, and we are encouraged to share one particular platter which turns out to be a better liked dish than the marinated white anchovies (which a few of us are suckers for, but several others are not at all keen!) The platter contained chorizo, jamón serrano, longaniza (Spanish sausage), guindilla peppers (traditional Basque pepper), and caperberries. The patatas bravas are served as whole roasted gourmet potatoes, which is a positive touch, but the sauce could have been a bit more generous (noting that it is tradition to smother it on).
Towards the end the chargrilled octopus, chorizo, kipfler potato with squid ink aioli is superb, especially the chargrilled octopus. At the same time we had the Brussel sprouts, confit white beans, heirloom tomatoes and baked ricotta which again was a combination a bit outside the box, working well as we had a few beers and wines. We settle on these as enough for the savouries, meaning our caution for the banquet was warranted.
For dessert we shared some chocolate tarts, and the doughnuts. Having been told there were five doughnuts in each serve I should have known they were going to be tiny. Luckily, with the injection of either jam and/or crème patisserie, they were absolutely delicious. The chocolate tart was terrific too, but most chocolate tarts are.
It has been many years since I’ve enjoyed the offerings of Duende. When it opened it was certainly a trend setter, and now it seems that many years later it has settled into a comfortable and lingering groove of its own.