My first ever taste of a real tapas meal was at The Imp a few years ago on a wintry raining night.
With close friends, a couple bottles of wine and pea arancini, dukkah rolled lamb cutlets and pistachio crumbed cheese I quickly fell in love with this cuisine type.
Ever since then I've been meaning to come back to this cute little hidey hole cafe that is small and warm to be inside of, with exposed brick and the deep scent of brewed coffee wafting throughout. So finally Jeremy and I made our way there, deciding to wing a night out in Vic Park and go into the first place that we could get into.
The smell was the same as all those years ago but the menu very different.
Like most tapas place, the menu rotates depending on what the chef has in stock, what's in season and whatever other factors that need to be considered.
One item stood out straight away to us - the jamon and manchego croquettes with romesco sauce. Though visually umimpressive, the texture of the croquettes was silky smooth and perfectly seasoned. The inside was soft and melted in your mouth, the outside containing the perfect amount of crunch without being overly oily.
For the rest of our dishes we covered our bases with a tasting plate. On it was venison chorizo (extremely delicious, with a strong spiciness and seasoned to perfection), porcini mushroom crepes, confit duck leg in a hearty tomato base, slow roasted beef chin, flatbread and pork belly.
The simplest dish - the flatbread - was actually still impressive. It was crunchy on the edges but soft in the centre, salty and balanced with just enough herbs. With it came a homemade capsicum dip that was vibrant in colour.
The porcini mushroom crepes were also really great though definitely underseasoned. As a cold tapas dish it took me a couple bites to really appreciate the taste but once I was in and loving it. It was fresh and refreshing, moorish and plentiful.
The confit duck and beef chin dishes were another story. Maybe it's me, but I'm not a big fan of stew dishes when having tapas. I don't think they fit, nor really should be served. Yes the flavours might be there but the heaviness and rich tastes don't suit the cuisine. Jeremy was of the same mind as me when it came to this, but as a boy with an appetite, he was still happy to finish the dishes off when I pronounced I'd had enough.
All in all The Imp will always have a soft spot in my heart. The dinner wasn't the best I've had - and definitely not the worst. I think with a place like this it always does come down to the dishes served and it seems like we ventured in there on a night when it just wasn't right.