Monday, May 5, 2014

Chica Linda, Surry Hills

It saddened me when I heard that The Carrington’s Beba Y Cena restaurant was closing down. The beloved pinxtos and burgers from this joint will be missed! But that sadness turned into a fist pump excitement as soon as I found that the Drink N Dine group was just revamping the venue into a new restaurant. As Beba Y Cena came to an end, a new sensation in the form of Chica Linda was born.

Chica Linda is located behind the Carrington Hotel, which is corner of Bourke and Arthur Streets in Surry Hills. In English, Chica Linda means “Beautiful Lady”. The restaurant offers Central/South American inspired dishes and cocktails that are inventive and fun. The venue has that “fiesta” feel and the Central American artwork on the walls makes the place more vibrant than its predecessor. Drink N Dine’s executive chef, Jamie Thomas is one of the brilliant minds behind the enticing menu. I was lucky enough to sample some cocktails and dishes from the menu along with other food bloggers the night before their opening.

The Cocktails:

Burnin Passion - Vodka, passionfruit, orange, and fire
I didn’t get to try the Burnin Passion ($9) but it looks blazin’ boss! 
Cuban neck tie
The Cuban neck tie ($17) is made out of plantation rum, orange, coconut, kaffir and lime. If there was a coconut flavoured mentos then turned into liquid form, this would be it! I like mentos so enjoyed it.
Caprininha Amazonica ($17) - Cachaca, pineapple, coconut sugar
Inca kola
I was expecting a cola flavoured soda with a twist when I had the Inca Kola ($5). Instead, it tasted like bubble gum and apple which again, was a winner for me.

The Food:

The Chicharones ($5) with guasacaca sauce was glorious as expected. It was airy spiced pork crackling that was accompanied with a minty and creamy guacamole-like dipping sauce. The crunchy and tasty crackling filled my heart with so much joy.
Smoked pork arepas
The Smoked pork Arepas ($6) had a chunk of tender pork that was glazed with honey chipotle glaze and pickled slaw. It was sandwiched between Arepas. Arepas are corn cake flatbreads. The whole arepas was moreish and delicious.
Grilled cheese arepas
The cheese used in the Grilled cheese Arepas ($5) was ridiculously good! It also had corn salsa and salsa rojo.
Flamed longaniza
The flamed longaniza ($14) was so tasty and familiar to me! It’s a pork sausage that’s a lot similar to a Filipino longanisa. It was garlicky, sweet, and peppery in taste. It went well with the salsa-like aji chilli and pineapple.
King crab diablo
The King Crab Diablo ($45) with spicy paprika sauce did not disappoint either. It was a hit amongst everyone there. The presentation looked similar to a Singaporean Chilli Crab but the difference was in the sauce. Besides paprika, I could also pick up coriander seeds, chilli, cumin and possibly turmeric flavours.
Two colour fries
Green and red tomato salad
Coca-cola rice and beans

Quinoa salad
The quinoa salad ($15) with barley, pomegranate, orange and labna was very enjoyable and was healthy-ish. The quinoa gave the salad a delicate nutty texture. The pomegranate and orange gave it a nice citrus and sweet taste. Mixing the labna through gives the salad a whole new dimension and creaminess.
Puerto Rican roast pork
The Puerto Rican roast pork ($35) with salsa criolla was all kinds of awesome! The fatty meat was super tender with sweet caramelised coating. This went really well with the Coca-Cola rice and beans.
Achiote smoked chicken
The achiote smoked chicken ($32) with tomato salsa was generous and amazing. The chicken meat was cooked perfectly and the annatto oil basting gave the skin a nice colour. The best part of this chicken is the depth of smoky flavour from skin all the way deep into the meat.

Guava empanada
Last but not least, one of the desserts we had was a guava empanada ($14). It was basically an apple pie with a twist by using a crisped golden empanada pastry filled with apple filling. The filling was so delicious.  It was accompanied with subtle tasting dulce de leche ice cream and flakes of fried plantain for added crisped texture.

As expected from the Drink N Dine, they did an absolute good job of transforming this place to another joint that many will enjoy. Congrats to Jaime Wirth, Chef Jamie Thomas, Team Chica Linda and the rest of Drink N Dine for a successful launch. I’m looking forward to all the creative dishes that will come out of Chica Linda in the future.

Ramen Raff was invited as a guest of Chica Linda by the Drink N Dine Group.

Chica Linda
at The Carrington Hotel
563 Bourke Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Phone: 9360 4714

Opening hours:
Breakfast from 9am and Lunch from 1pm Friday-Sunday
Dinner from 6pm Monday-Sunday

Chica Linda on Urbanspoon