Chato Café y Tapas

Thornbury’s newest dining resident, Chato is turning heads with a seasonal menu that is full of vibrancy, character and the flavours of Spain. 
Open since 13 July, the family-run venue by Darebin residents Maria and Jenny Echevarria-Lang places a focus on the community, with small and Melbourne-based businesses supplying much of the kitchen’s produce. The local spirit of Chato is seen at every level, from the coffee by Reservoir roaster Niccolo and fairtrade organic teas from Melbourne-based tea trader Somage, to local meats supplied by Thornbury Meats, free-range poultry by Poultry N More and other produce from Melbourne’s much-loved Casa Iberica.
Well-respected in the hospitality industry, head chef Maria brings a wealth of experience to Chato. Chef and co-founder of Melbourne’s iconic Caffe e Cucina, Maria then moved on to establish Ramblas in South Yarra followed by the popular café Lorca in Centre Place, Melbourne. 
Born in Madrid, Maria came to Australia at the age of four with her family, who emigrated due to persecution by the Franco regime after running tapas bars that assisted the opposition. Maria maintains strong contacts in Spain, travelling there often to visit family and be immersed in the vibrant Spanish culture and cuisine that Melburnians have grown to love.
The space is warm and reminiscent of a small, intimate Spanish street bar. A rustic timber surround makes up the front bar, and maroon and green tiles wrap around the front bench. These colours are infused throughout the venue, including a white wash speckled with green that has been applied to the original red brickwork.
The wine list is made up of equal parts Australian and Spanish wines. We highly recommend the Marques de Caceres Rioja Tinto Crianza. A robust and fruity wine with hints of chocolatey oak and delicious tannin structure, it was a great accompaniment to our Spanish feast.
Left: Whole Portuguese sardines char-grilled; Deep fried Basque sausage wrapped in thinly sliced potato with a sherry vinegar reduction 

We commenced with a selection of tapas. 

The sardines were a delight, boasting a wonderful depth of flavour. 

The Deep fried cauliflower in a saffron and manchego batter was encased in ethereally light and crispy tempura batter. This dish was vegetarian comfort food and would make anyone with a distaste for cauliflower reconsider.
From left: Deep fried cauliflower in a saffron and manchego batter; Spinach sautéed with currants and almonds; Meatballs

The seemingly casual dish of spinach sautéed with currants and almonds was delicious. Carefully and intelligently composed to combine texture and flavour in exciting ways, the wonderfully wilted spinach was delightful.

Traditional comfort-food classics, the meatballs were sufficiently seasoned and wonderfully flavoursome.
Ox cheek braised in PX

The Pork cheek confit was outstanding. The cheek was tender and delicious, with caramel undertones courtesy of being marinated in pedro ximenez. It was a brilliant amalgamation of flavours which produced a hearty comforting dish.
Paella Mixta

The paella was exquisite. Cooked with seafood and chicken, the paella delivered a great amount of flavour. Served in a paellera (paella pan), there was a beautifully crusty/slightly burnt bottom which had the infused aromas of being cooked over an open fire.
Leche Frita - Fried Milk drizzled with an orange honey syrup and vanilla bean ice-cream

Simple, yet seductive, the Leche Frita was utterly irresistible. An extra thick milk pudding which had been dried, breaded, and then fried to golden perfection, the result was a creamy milk-pudding centre encased in a warm and crunchy fried shell. Delicious!
Churros - as served in Spain with a thick sweet drinking chocolate and no icing sugar

The churros were superb. Moist and light on the inside with a crispy exterior, we enjoyed dipping them in the accompanying thick chocolate sauce.  We loved the slightly savoury flavour profile of the churros which provided balance to the dish.
Chato brings Spanish flair to Thornbury with its outstanding offerings. Expect flavoursome dishes and friendly service with Spanish twists along the way that will take you straight to Spain.

Location: 921 High Street, Thornbury
Phone: 03 9484 8554
Cuisine: Spanish

Chato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Chato.

Bomba Goes to Spain

Gastrology recently had the pleasure of travelling to Andalusia, Spain with the wonderful team at Bomba, a Spanish restaurant in the CBD.  It was incredible! We met with local producers and sampled their wares, ate in some of the best restaurants around, drank a lot of wine and sherry in the name of “research” and basically had one of the best gastronomic adventures of our lives.

Okay, not quite… but Bomba’s Executive Chef Jesse Gerner and a few – extremely lucky – members of his team did, and on Sunday they invited us to their hip Spanish restaurant so they could tell us all about it over an epic Andalusian four course feast. Which made up for not being invited on the trip… almost.
The dishes we ate were inspired by the many fisherman, farmers and chefs the Bomba team met on their journey through Seville, Cadiz, Jerez and the Canary Islands in Andalusia, and were matched with varying types of sherry, a drop the region is famous for.
It began with palate cleansing Wapengo oysters with a bright green, almost sour, nettle vinaigrette matched with a Manzanilla sherry, which we learnt is a natural match for oysters; it’s light and fresh but still has a subtle sweetness so it stands up to bigger flavours. A stunning way to begin the meal.
Smoked and cured pork belly – Chicharrones especial - came out soon after, and we all devoured the salty sweet, gourmet style ham – a recipe that has been adopted from Cadiz’s Casa Manteca, which when translated means: House of Fat. Worth it.

These European research trips are something the restaurant undertakes approximately twice a year; it keeps the team inspired, educates them on the provenance of the food they are serving and keeps its menu authentic and unique. The team always returns from their gourmet rendezvous’ with new recipe ideas and techniques that they are eager to implement in the Bomba kitchen.
From the bread – a sour dough which is cultured from grapes which results in a light tang – to the Sardinas fritas with lemon - crunchy, salty, whole sardines lightly fried and served with a lemon mayonnaise - which transported you straight to the European seaside – the tapas were unique, carefully prepared and utterly enjoyable.  
The next meal to hit the table was inspired by a pair of deaf and mute brothers who run a top notch Spanish bar is Seville. Their signature dish is a sweet and unctuous dish of cuttlefish and pippies swimming in a glistening squid ink that we mopped up with the remainder of the house made bread. The original dish is actually made with cuttlefish vaginas – yes #cuttlefishvaginas – but ours continued to be beautiful whilst remaining free of reproductive parts. It was all black teeth grins around the table, but we washed it away with sherry and were all in excellent spirits – and feeling quite joyful as well!
A scrambled eggs style dish came next, Montadito of huevos revueltos with morcilla – a rich scrambled eggs with blood sausage, herbs and spices on a giant crunchy crouton. Can all our eggs be served with such bold flavours? And then came the rich Caldillo de perro; roast fish broth with poached lobster and black garlic to prepare us for mains. 
Rabo de toro, took things to new levels. Whole pieces of “Fighting Bull’s Tail” had been slow cooked in oloroso to absolute perfection. The meat was so soft and tender, it fell off the bone with a touch of the fork. It was served on celeriac puree, with braised winter greens with lemon and anchovy and matched to a sherry with caramel, almost maple like tones. So decadent. Almost dessert-like in its gelatinous form. 
But dessert was still to come – Pedro Ximenez ice cream, torrija, sheep’s milk yoghurt and poached pear. Adapted from a traditional recipe from Fernando & Castilla in Jerez de la Fontera, torrija is a slice of bread that is soaked in milk or wine with honey and spices, dipped in egg and fried. It was perfect to soak up the sherry spiked ice cream, and served with a glass of PX, it was the perfect way to finish the lunch.

First stop Bomba, then express to Spain. You won’t be disappointed.

Location: 103 Lonsdale St Melbourne
Phone: 03 9077 0451
Cuisine: Spanish, Tapas

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Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Bomba.
First image by Gastrology. All other images courtesy of Jessica Williams.

Daring and innovative cuisine @ Los Patos

Daring and innovative cuisine @ Los Patos

Regularly described as one of Granada's “destination” restaurants, Los Patos allows diners to embark on a culinary journey through the local flavours of Granada.

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Share a Churros Week @ San Churros and support beyondblue [15 – 21 June 2015]

San Churro, Australia’s favourite Spanish chocolateria, has partnered with not-for-profit organisation beyondblue to raise awareness and funds to promote good mental health across Australia, with the café launching its ‘Share a Churros Week’ initiative.
‘Share a Churros Week’ urges Australians to connect, or re-connect over churros, with all 46 San Churros stores donating $1 to beyondblue for every churros dish purchased between Monday 15 – Sunday 21 June.
Also, San Churro has further pledged to double its donation for every in-store churros photo posted to Instagram using the tag #shareachurros, as well as displaying donation boxes at the counters of all stores to raise additional funds!
San Churro is the perfect place to share a sweet treat with friends. The menu is full of refreshing and fun desserts, ice cream sundaes and shakes that are perfect for sunny days and social celebrations. Although San Churro’s delectable churros are what keep us coming back time and time again, San Churro also does some delicious classics like ice cream sundaes and shakes.
Chocolate & Churros Tapas

Our favourite share plate is the "Chocolate & Churros Tapas" share plate which is full of delectable delights such as mini churros, chocolate, deep fried chocolate truffles, choc brownie, strawberries and other chocolate delights.
To find your local San Churro store and participate in Share a Churros Week, visit or for more information about beyondblue, visit

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