Visited on the 12th of January 2014.
My friend was craving tapas and as it was her birthday, I happily obliged and began to scour the city for some Spanish food! I decided to forgo the usual suspects (Subsolo, Encassa e.t.c) and looked at other venues which I had never previously heard of before. I came across Despana after doing a little research and although there wasn’t much information available, decided to go with my gut and give Despana a chance.
Despana’s menu is designed for sharing and mainly consists of tapas-style dishes with some Spanish flair as well as cured meats.
Dodgy photo I know, but I was in a hurry when I took this snap :(.
Love the cute barrels out front
We started off the evening with some house-made Sangria which was fruity and refreshing. From memory, the full jug was a little over $20.
Beets are not normally the first thing I order when I dine outside (when I have a cheat meal, I go all out) but my other friend also had a craving for beets so we decided to give the beets a go. The beats were well coated in a tart dressing and contrasted with the salty blue cheese and spiced walnuts. The dish overall was okay, but this isn’t something I would personally recommend unless you love beetroot.
The roasted mushrooms were seasoned & cooked nicely and had some firmness to them. To me this was a simple yet enjoyable vegetarian dish.
It’d be accurate to say I’ve had my fair share of croquettes in my lifetime but these were seriously sex in the mouth. The croquettes had a thin & lightly crisp exterior whilst the mixture inside was beautifully soft and contained pieces of chorizo. Overall I found these croquettes delicious and if you go to Despana, you must order these. That’s non-negotiable.
So this was the dish which was responsible for putting Despana on food list! Visually, it looked quite good when it arrived at the table but it appeared to be lacking the full portion of cauliflower puree. That aside, the beef cheek was piping hot and effortlessly fork tender! The cauliflower puree was well seasoned and sauce was rich and full of beef flavour. This dish as a whole was very enjoyable and I would be happy to recommend ordering the beef cheeks.
This was the only disappointing dish of the evening. Although the seafood was fine, the rest of the dish was not so great. I found the dressing to be overly acidic and there was a pool of oil at the bottom of the dish.
Despana separated the fried potato from the aioli and bravas sauce which kept the potatoes nice and crispy. Overall I thought these potato bravas were decent; they should satisfy your cravings for fried potatoes :).
The cauliflower fritters were lightly coated in batter and well seasoned with spices. Given the shape of the fritters, I was surprised (but happy) to see that the cauliflower pieces were still whole; there’s nothing worse than finding out your cauliflower fritter tastes like fried flour. Overall I was happy with the crispy cauliflower fritters and would happily eat these again.
These churros were really different & interesting and I don’t mean that in a negative way. The churros here were extremely airy & light; you could almost effortlessly squeeze them. That being said, the flavour was good as was the slightly crisp exterior. I think you’ll need to try these for yourself to understand what I’m talking about.
Instead of a brulee, this catalan cream was topped with demerara syrup. Although the syrup was on the sweet side, I still found this dessert enjoyable.
The rice pudding was very light and had a little bit of sweetness to it. The simplicity ensured that I could taste every ingredient in this dessert. I wished it was a little sweeter (I kept alternating between the Catalan cream and the rice pudding), but other than that, I was content with this dessert :).
Ambiance: The décor was pleasant and noise levels were low to moderate (it wasn’t busy during my visit). The seating was comfortable and I found the setting to be quite casual. I noticed another dining area (not open at the time) downstairs as well as another room towards the back of the restaurant; I believe Despana could cater to large groups and anything smaller.
Service: Service during my visit was friendly and quite attentive, nothing really negative happened during my experience
Final thoughts: Most Spanish restaurants I’ve been to in Sydney have been quite spicy or had a large amount of seasoning – this wasn’t the case at Despana. Although the food wasn’t spicy (I love my spices!), it was still flavourful in its own way and the night still had some stand out dishes. My experience wasn’t perfect, but I found Despana to be extremely good value for money (I still can’t believe that beef cheek was $12!) and would recommend trying Despana for casual dinner, especially if spice is not your thing.
101 Glebe Point Rd
Glebe NSW 2037
Phone: (02) 9660 2299