04 Dec Chato, Thornbury
So what exactly is a chato? Took me a while to figure it out, but it’s a small glass of wine – a perfect size for wine flights or simply for enjoying with a couple of snacks.
Madrid-born chef Maria Echevarria-Lang and her partner Jenny Echevarria-Lang, have opened Chato in the up-and-coming Thornbury with a view to serve tasty food along with good drink in a stylish yet casual eatery. The fit-out displays Spanish rusticism with tiles, exposed brick, rustic timbers and colourful Spanish-inspired wall tiles.
Codornices al chocolate, which was quail breast cooked with chocolate and sherry, sounded incredibly tempting but we didn’t try it for fear of overordering (perhaps a silly thought in hindsight). Bandada de bacalao – creamed cod confit, garlic, oil and parsley, also sounded amazing but was unfortunately taken off the menu due to its unpopularity. Sadness.
No matter. There were plenty of other enticing tapas, raciones and platos principales to choose from.
Having spent as much as we did, we were eligible to order a complimentary bottle of wine by using the Free Wines app after signing up for the program. Supported by a quite a number of restaurants, including some high-end ones, Free Wines allows diners to order one of two award-winning wines to enjoy with their meal. Ordering the wine via the app was straightforward, quick and easy, and soon we had a bottle of beautiful Shiraz from First Creek to sip on.
A large paddle bearing our chosen selection of tapas and raciones soon graced the table. Brocheta de Gambas y Vieira – King prawn and scallop skewer on crispy flour puff with marinated seaweed. Seaweed isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Spanish food, but here it injected this incredible freshness that really made each mouthful come alive. Sepia saten – marinated pan-grilled cuttlefish, chilli and herbs – was absolutely delicious. The marinated calimari was cooked perfectly. The whole char-grilled Portuguese sardines, Sardinas, were perfect with a squeeze of lemon. The Flan de Berenjenas – smokey baked eggplant mousse with piquillo salsa – was perhaps the least impressive of the dishes, needing just a touch more salt.
Carpacio con Pomelo – peppered kangaroo loin with grapefruit and shaved manchego – was another of our favourites. The savoury, fine and delicate meat carpaccio was nicely complemented by the tang of grapefruit.
There’s something I find so comforting and satisfying about rice, no matter which cuisine the dish originates from. When mum and I see paella on the menu, it’s often on our short list of things to order and today was no exception. Our choice was the Paella de frutos del Mar, and because of the many other eye-catching dishes on the menu, we ordered paella for two rather than three. There wasn’t much soccarat, the exciting crusty part at the bottom of the paella pan, but it was still very tasty and full of fresh seafood.
We had a hearty and satisfying feed at Chato that had many highlights and very few lowlights. With wonderful food and a friendly atmosphere and service, Chato is one to consider as a local gem.
Disclaimer: This meal was partly subsidised by Free Wines, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.
921 High St
Thornbury, VIC, 3071
(03) 9484 8554