By Phil Jarratt
Sindo’s A Taste of Spain, reviewed by Trevor Pepys
Friday night at the Barcelona end of Noosa Junction. At the end of another beautiful winter week here in paradise, Trevor and the bride and a couple of mates from Fraser Island who haven’t been out on the town for months, wet the whistle at Mr Drifter before crossing the street to see if Sindo’s really is “a taste of Spain”.
Trevor is, of course, expert in most cuisines of the world, but perhaps none more so than that of Spain, and in Spain, none more so than the delicious and aromatic tucker of the reluctant province of Catalonia.
The adventure began more than 25 years ago at a dinner party in Noosa, when Trevor revealed to fellow Noosans Michael and Janey Richardson his intention to visit Barcelona. “You must go to Cadaques,” they insisted, and thus began a remarkable love affair that endures to this day with the white-washed port town surrounded by coastal mountains that Salvador Dali called home. In fact, when we first visited, there was not a single cantina in town that didn’t boast a photo of the recently-departed surrealist sitting at a corner table sucking on a pink champagne.
On that trip I used the old Trev tip of heading away from the picturesque port to find a dingy back street and a restaurant with little or no signage but a delicious aroma puffing out at passers-by. (Another couple of Trev tips – never eat anything bigger than your head, and never eat in a restaurant that revolves. But I digress.)
Anyway, that was how we found Casa Anita. No bookings, no menu, just a shambles of a kitchen at ground level and up a rickety flight of stairs to three rooms, each with one long communal table. Anita had passed on, but her daughters ran the kitchen and son Juan was front of house. “Fish or meat?” he asked. We chose one of each. Then Juan held a goatskin of wine above his head, poured it onto his hair and drank it as it dribbled down his face. I was hooked before we ate a thing.
The next time we visited a couple of years later, there was a queue running down the street, and Trevor’s glowing review, published in The Australian, was framed and hanging at the top of the stairs. Your reviewer has struggled to pay for a meal at Anita’s in a dozen visits since, but, alas, Juan is off the grog and no longer pours wine down his face.
Sindo’s is nothing like Anita’s but I loved it as soon as I walked into the place. Well, as soon as host Estrella graciously swapped our high bench outside for a cosy table inside. The smallish restaurant was Covid-full, and filled with laughter and Flamenco guitar, courtesy of Paco, the talented troubadour playing in the corner. But, seated in the middle of all this activity, we had no problem conducting a conversation. So an almighty tick in that box.
We ordered a bottle of Radio Boka tempranillo ($38), a rich and fruity red from Valencia, and quaffed that while waiting for our order of just about everything on the tapas menu. The patatas bravas ($11) came first, and it was the genuine article, not just fat chips with a splash of salsa over them. Likewise the calamari ($14) (just crispy enough) and the mussels on the shell in a delicious white wine and garlic mix ($19).
Next came the star turns, which looked lonely without another bottle of tempranillo to be going on with. Making a Spanish omelette is not rocket science and yet it’s hard to find a truly authentic one in this country. Chef Daniel Mati is Catalan and it shows. If I’d picked a slice of his tortilla de patatas ($13) off the counter of a tapas bar in Barceloneta, I would not have been disappointed – texture perfect and served warm, not hot with crunchy Catalan bread. And the same with the albondingas ($18), flavoursome meat balls in a delicate tomato and parmesan sauce. I’d hoped to squeeze in the low temperature cod (the fish that saved the country) off the mains menu, but we were stuffed, and could barely manage churros and chocolate ($10) and a crema Catalana ($16 and delicious) to finish.
The verdict: Trevor will be back, not just for the cod, but for the whole package. Friendly, fun and fairly-priced, Sindo’s is a great addition to the ever-improving Junction eats precinct.
Sindo’s, 4-6 Sunshine Beach Road, Noosa Junction
5447 4945 or firstname.lastname@example.org