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Food Review – SumBar

By Rhys Kane on January 5, 2012 in Food

Photo: Grant Brooks

Having published an article by my esteemed colleague Rupert Truscott-Hughes in last month’s edition The Beast on the abundance of wanky tapas parlours popping up in the east, my editors have this month sent me off to, you guessed it, a tapas restaurant. Thankfully they haven’t sent me to a joint jumping on the share-plate bandwagon but an established venue with an authentic vibe.

SumBar is a unique little hub down on Frenchmans Road in Randwick, combining daytime cafe with hole-in-the-wall tapas restaurant cum wine bar. Open early till late, seven days a week, they offer a delicious cafe brunch menu until 3pm, followed by tapas and wine from 5pm onwards.

Owned by an Aussie and a Welshman, the decor gently hints at Spanish influences but it’s not over-the-top. It’s clearly designed for lounging, drinking and casual dining.

We arrived to a cosy and welcoming atmosphere on a mid-week summer’s evening (with heavy rain and strong winds). With a pram in tow we were seated in the cafe side of the restaurant to dine, a perfect space for families, while the more intimate wine bar side was clearly reserved for romantic couples and Christmas parties.

The ambiance is moody and warm with low lighting and funky tunes. The mismatched tables are well spaced so there is plenty of room to spread out, and the red walls and splashes of yellow subtly portray the colours of Spain. It feels happy and homely with an earthy charm.

The evening menu is awash with Spanish tapas options with North African influences. Expect old faves like calamari and patatas bravas, but also be inspired by interesting combinations like pan-fried goats cheese with an apricot and vanilla syrup, haloumi cooked in vanilla and dry sherry, and sauteed zucchini flowers with sun-dried tomato and goats cheese roulade. The chicken skewers are also a winner, served on a bed of well-dressed beetroot, feta and pine nut salad, and the fried soft shell crab has a perfectly spicy Szechuan pepper crust.

If you can find the room, be sure to order the Sum-mess for dessert, a Spanish take on the classic Eton-mess, with Cointreau soaked strawberries, meringue and cream – a summery delight.

The wine list is vast, with a good sprinkling of drops from Europe, the US and Argentina, as well as a strong Australian presence. The best Spanish number is an organic Jesus del Perdon Tempranillo, a top-notch drop hailing from La Mancha. SumBar also offers a range of beers on tap, and if you’re in the mood to party you can get a litre of red or white Sangria for under twenty bucks.

The main road location may not be not ideal but it gives SumBar something of a community feel. It certainly seems to be well loved by the locals.

SumBar also regularly boasts live music, beer garden barbecues and even psychic readings, and on Monday and Tuesday evenings every tapas dish is $9.

Unfortunately for Rupert, with places like SumBar pumping out top quality tapas at a wallet-friendly price, the share-plate craze is definitely here to stay.


Address: 50-52 Frenchmans Road, Randwick
Phone: (02) 9399 6669
Head Chef: Jason Bennett
Open: Mon-Sat 6am-late; Sun 7am-late
Seats: 100
Prices: Brunch: $5.50-$16; Dinner $9-$14.50
Cards: Everything except Diners
Licensed/BYO: Fully licensed