Los Primos was a recommendation by a Spanish friend; and when a Spaniard endorses a Spanish restaurant, you best heed that endorsement and head straight to that Spanish restaurant.
A casual open-aired concept under the same group that owns popular Italian trattoria Cugini (which also happens to be its next-door neighbour), the Club Street tenant is balmy and relaxed. Weekday afternoons will find this cosy spot a tranquil respite in the heart of the central business district, whereas nightfall brings with it the buzz of the executive crowd.
The food was indeed fantastic, with big hearty flavours the result of fresh produce effortlessly finessed. Save for the slightly off-kilter menu descriptions, every dish was a slamdunk. Not one wrong move by the incredible exhibition kitchen here. And while prices are relatively steep, portions were surprisingly ample. Service can get a little frazzled during a full-house, but remains well-meaning and reasonably efficient.
The Pulpo a la Gallega ($19.90), a tepid tapas of perfectly cooked octopus and boiled potato ringlets slathered in olive oil, and seasoned with a dash of paprika, was scrumptious. This was by far the best rendition of octopus ever, so good that it'll convert the most hardened of octopus-haters.
The Croqueta de Jamon Iberico ($14) of a quartet of deep-fried croquettes studded with jamon nubbins was less creamy than expected, but no less delicious. This was addictive as hell, and I would have eaten all of it if I didn't have to share with my mates. I'd recommend doggy-bagging these home for binge-watching Netflix.
The Gambas al Ajillo ($18.90), in spite of the menu's representation of prawns sauteed in virgin olive oil and garlic, was set in a saucy pool of white wine and sweet shrimp stock enlivened by dried chilli and onions. This was deliciously rich and unctuous; I mopped up every last drop of that awesome sauce.
Don't let the inky appearance of the Calamares en su Tinta ($16.90) scare you off. The squid, stuffed with a meaty filling, walked the fine line between firm and soft textures. It was finished with a moreish squid ink, peppery arugula, and blistered cherry tomatoes.
The Tortilla Espanola de Chorizo ($14.90) was a traditional Spanish omelette with onions and sausage. Beautifully charred and crisped on the outside, the thick patty was lusciously moist inside.
Another eggy dish, the Huevo Estrellado ($13.90) turned out to be a potato hash egg scramble with coloured peppers, onions, and juicy jamon; the menu had stipulated one of the components a soft boiled egg. Like the one at FOC. Or La Taperia. Forgivably insignificant inconsistency aside, this was awesome and would make a most delightful brunch food.
A daily special, the Bunuelos de Bacalao con Alioli de Pera ($16.90) contrasted zingy salted cod fritters with a delicately refreshing pear aioli, roasted nuts and peppered heat of the rocket leaves.
The other special, the Presa Iberica con Salsa de Pimienta Verde ($22.90) was a meaty platter of grilled acorn-fed Iberian black pig tenderloins. The smoky redolence was boosted by the subtle spice of the peperonata with green peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes, while a cool aioli lent a lively balance.
The Pastel de Chocolate con Helado Casero ($15.90), a molten chocolate cake paired with homemade ice-cream and fresh strawberries, was as vanilla as it gets, but it was commendable.
81 Club Street
Tel: 6423 1773
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 12midnight for dinner;
Fridays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 1am for dinner;
Saturdays from 6pm to 1am for dinner;
Closed on Sundays