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98 Oxford Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
Raquel's was among the first Spanish restaurants in Sydney, and one of the earliest establishments to introduce tapas to the Aussie dining habit. Coming up to 30 years in the business, nowadays the cooking is done by Raquel's daughter, Maria. Raquel learned a lot of her cooking from her Castilian mother-in-law (think garlic, cloves, cumin, paprika) and Maria remains true to her mother's style while managing to add her own innovations vis a vis the regularly changing specials. Rather than go the fusion route, the excitement here is in maximising flavours and exploring the adventurous side of Spanish cuisine. At the time of writing, specials included pork knuckle patties with prawns in a fried tomato sauce, with a plan to add whole milk-fed lamb to the menu – served the traditional way, head and all.
The a la carte menu is constantly being refined, and offers such sophisticated dishes as honey-roasted duck breast in a soft flour tortilla with beetroot chutney, and baked Portobello mushrooms with blue cheese and pimiento jam. The food is honest and holds true to Spanish culinary themes, from coastal influences (fresh sardines marinated in lemon and vinegar) to the rustic chicken and rabbit dishes. The last fifty years have brought a food revolution in Spain and the menu pays tribute to this broadening of palates; but the modern touches are complimentary and respectful, never overshadowing the essential flavours of a dish. However if you prefer something unchallenging and familiar, you'll be more than satisfied with the home-made paella (allow 40-50 minutes preparation time) and the sizeable range of tapas.