Thcottish or Thpanish Robbie?
When I googled Thpanish restaurants in Melbourne and the “Robert Burns Hotel” came up, I was sure google had made a mistake (something it rarely does unless you’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry).
Sure enough, after checking with my ‘better’ half, who hails from the land of cho-ree-tho, the Robert Burns Hotel was a place he used to frequent with his even-more-Spanish grand parents, so I had it on good authority that this was the real deal.
So there we were at a pub in Fitzroy, named after a Scottish poet, with our Kiwi waitress, for our Thpanish meal.
When we arrived, we were ushered to our table by our friendly waiteress who promptly offered to just ‘feed us’, a suggestion we welcomed considering the extensive menu. If only it was that easy at Korean.
The first couple of dishes arrived:
Bread (of course, we’re in Thpain now after all)
Garlic prawns (garlic with a dash of prawns)
More bread, this time covered in tomatoes and jamon (the real deal)
Seafood croquettes. Now let me just say I am a tough judge of the delightful little fried flavour parcel that is a croquette. Last year in Thpain we had a croquette-off. Everywhere they were offered we tried them, so we’ve seen frozen, fresh, seafood, pork, jamon, extra fried, not quiet fried enough, what the, oh yeah, omg.
So where did these rate? Unfortunately, only somewhere between “hmmm” and “not bad”.
Gallician style scallops (give me scallops and I’m a happy woman).
During this time, we also selected a few beers and a bottle of Thpanish red, which I feel is generally fail-safe.
Will the concept of beautiful red wine for only 4 euro a bottle ever reach the shores of Australia?
Next up was the main affair. 2 paella (pa-yeah-ya!) and 2 char grilled steak dishes (there were 8 of us).
The paella was decent but lacked a lil somethin’-somethin’. More lemon? More seafood? More paprika? Perhaps all of the above. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it but it didn’t come close to making the very short list of paellas that are out of this world.
The meat, I thought, was awesome. Juicy, rare and flavoursome; however, the jury was out on this one. Perhaps I got a particularly great piece, perhaps I’m more of a meat lover than I thought or perhaps, with a vegetarian sister and mother, I just really want meat to know how much I appreciate it and that I won’t bail on it any time soon.
The bill rolled in and after coughing up $80 a head, we (unfortunately) didn’t ‘roll’ out. It seemed expensive for what we ate but I think this probably came down to the booze, though this still wasn’t an excessive amount. The controversy, however, really came along when it was time for the scoring.
The Robert Burns Hotel had our crowd truly divided: on one end of the spectrum was the Spaniards (and neighbouring countries’ descendants) only handing out 5s and 6s. Is that because every European thinks their Nonna/Abuela/Yiayia does it better or did they have a point? On the other was descendants of Robert and his countrymen with 8s and 8.5s, were we easily fooled or did it really deserve that?
All round it averaged out to a 7/10. I certainly wouldn’t steer anyone away from giving it a go but I wouldn’t be screaming “pa-yeah-ya!” over it either.