Profiled by de Groots Media
This extension of Hernandez cafe in Kings Cross had been in the works for ages. The famously late-night cafe has been open for a whopping 35 years, and customers have been asking for a broader, bolder menu for a good proportion of that time. So along came Hernandez the restaurant, on the protected corner of Burton and Oxford streets, with a small paved plaza that is oh-so-European and quaint you can almost hear a piano-accordion playing. The menu is a crowd pleasing affair, as are the hours (three meals a day, everyday, with a kitchen that’s open till midnight or later). The cuisine covers cafe standards, Italian staples such as pasta and risotto, traditional Spanish dishes and well-priced tapas. Like the Kings Cross cafe, the decor is a little – well, shabby. But it’s very clearly the sort of casual diner where prices are so low that a bit of peeling paint and sticky tables can be forgiven.
The tapas dishes are great value, ranging from $7-$14 each, or get five for $27. They are mostly meaty and fishy morsels such as marinated baby octopus, grilled chorizo, Jamon Serrano (Spanish ham) and garlic prawns. And of course, paella makes an appearance in both seafood and chicken incarnations at $19 a pop. The Spanish theme continues into the delectable desserts with churros (like Spanish donut sticks) with molten chocolate dipping sauce, arroz con leche (rice pudding) and even some French-style pancakes. On Saturday nights nab a seat outside, and enjoy the live band that sets up in the little plaza area.
Sarah Theeboom, November 2007