Thursday, 26 April 2012

Santa Ana Tapas Bar, St. Kilda, Melbourne.

138 – 140 Acland Street, St. Kilda

If memory serves me correctly, Santa Ana was the Mexican General who kicked butt at the battle of the Alamo.  You may have seen the John Wayne movie where our hero’s were hopelessly out numbered and fought to the last man, and then he copped it between the ribs with a bayonet.

Well, that’s how my wallet felt after our lunch at Santa Ana restaurant on Acland Street in the trendy Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda.  It was beautiful weather that autumn day when we disembarked from our tram on the Boulevard in front of Luna Park and walked around the corner into Acland Street.  Boutique clothing and shoes, jewellery, souvenirs and hairdressers, cafes, restaurants, cake shops and patisseries, and everything else a tourist could ask for.  Wow.

As we cruised the street checking out the menus in search of something special for lunch, the promise of something Spanish and exotic caught our eyes, Tapas.  Yes, we had wanted to try some authentic tapas ever since we saw Anthony Bourdain exploring the Barcelona Tapas scene on TV.

The restaurant isn’t big but it is nicely furnished, wonderfully clean and the atmosphere is loaded with energy by the crowd of young holiday makers enjoying themselves at nearly every table.  The staff is warm and very friendly.  I did wonder why they all seemed to have Irish accents.  It sort of killed off any Latin authenticity the place might have had.

The tapas menu is quite extensive with a large variety of small “tasting” dishes to choose from, but it was a bit hard to understand.  The waiter was no help as he didn’t have a great knowledge of the menu and fobbed us off with “Oh it’s all good.”  I was waiting for a “to be sure” from my little Irish friend, but it didn’t happen. 

There were three of us in the group and we chose four dishes each hoping this would be enough to satisfy our hunger.  The dishes range from $8 for guacamole to $20 each for a sea food dish.  (And I mean a dish about the size of a saucer).  This is where I had to put the brakes on my brain doing flips with the mental arithmetic that can absolutely ruin a good meal.

So we ordered some icy cold Stella Artois and cokes and sat back to soak up the atmosphere.  It was really quite nice.  As I said before there was a lot of energy in the place.  It was well lit, modern with the comfort of air conditioning.  It didn’t take long for the first couple of plates to arrive and the smell was fabulous.  Spicy chicken skewers, sea scallops and a meat ball dish to start, all with their own incredible sauces.  We tasted each others delights, although there were only a couple of mouthfuls on each plate.  The rest of the dishes were shuttled out to us as they became ready and they went down a treat with the cold beer, the buzz of the crowd and the colourful view of the street. 

At the end of our meal we were satisfied that we had tasted something good, to a point, but we weren’t convinced of the authenticity.  That’s where our satisfaction ended.  We were still hungry and exorbitant prices had made the decision for us to stop ordering.  What we did eat was a nice snack for three hungry adults but too small for a luncheon and the only culinary criticism I can make is the meat dishes were slightly dry and over done, but the seafood and vegetables were perfect.

So having unburdened myself of lots of hard earned money, our quest for authentic Tapas in Australia continues.  Santa Ana wasn’t a complete waste of time and we really did appreciate the service and the flavour of the food, but unless I come into some serious money, we won’t be back for seconds.  Remember the Alamo!

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