El Faro Spanish Restaurant & Tapas Bar

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12 reviews
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Elliott Stables,
39 Elliott Street,
Auckland Central

(09) 365 1111

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Review byBrett Atkinson27/09/2009

There’s nothing like getting excited emails from family members holidaying in Barcelona to make you envious. The last one hinted at great little tapas bars with grilled calamari, baked eggplant, potato croquettes and three-buck Estrella beers. Joining them in Spain is definitely not a weekend option, so instead we’re focused on the next best thing, a casual visit to El Faro in Elliot Stables.

The Elliot Stables development has been going for a couple of years, and we’ve previously covered Reslau, Torchon and La Bruschetteria. All three eateries have a European focus, a great design fit with the cosy, wood-lined laneway. Spanish tapas bar El Faro is a more recent opening, and hopefully just the thing to ward off stay-at-home envy while your brother and sister-in-law are barhopping in Barcelona. Before tapas though, we squeeze in a drink at the wonderfully compact Prenzel Bar, a gem of a place hidden away in Elliot Stables. With 50 local beers and lots of Kiwi wine available, it’s definitely worth hunting this place out before a movie or a meal.

Across the lane at El Faro we’re offered a table by a friendly waitress complete with distinctive Madrid accent. There is a fuller menu – think steaks, organic meat stews, grilled mussels etc – but we decide to plump for the tapas menu, handily outlined on a blackboard. Inner seating hints at a rustic nautical theme – complete with a compact mezzanine floor – but we’re just as happy amid the Elliot Stables buzz with an Estrella beer and a glass of sangria. Mojitos and caipirinhas both also feature for $11 on a compact cocktail and wine menu.

Tapas are priced either as meat ($8) or vegetarian ($6), and come served on small plates, but still piled high with ingredients. From the meat selection we choose Pinxtos de Jamon ($8), with Spanish ham and olives secured on toasted bread with a toothpick, and albondigas ($8) (Spanish meatballs). They’re both great choices, with the meatballs immersed in a rich tomato sauce. Our 5+ a day target is helped with Patatas Aioli ($8), handcut chips with garlic mayo, and an Eggplant Casserole ($6).

After four plates of tapas, we’re actually feeling pretty full, but push on for churros ($8), the distinctive Spanish doughnuts served dipped in with hot chocolate. Extensive research has shown that the Eden Cloak Room and Rocco offer the city’s best churros, and unfortunately El Faro’s aren’t really up to scratch on this occasion. They’ve soaked up too much oil during the deep-frying process, and the hot chocolate is a tad thin.

It’s a slightly disappointing end to a good meal, but with its combination of authentic Spanish tastes and service, we’ll still be venturing back to El Faro in the future. We’ll also make sure we combine a return visit with a drink across the lane at the excellent Prenzel Bar.

El Faro Spanish Restaurant & Tapas Bar has been reviewed by 12 users

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