Forget flying to Spain: Chato Café y Tapas looks after all your Iberian needs, right here in Thornbury. If you’re stopping by during daylight hours you’ll be able to enjoy glorious Spanish food paired with some of your cafe favourites. When the sun sets, Chato truly shines, transforming into an authentic tapas bar.
The lady dancing the Chato amenco is Spanish-born Maria Echevarria- Lang, who understands the culture’s food better than most. This is her fourth venture, having worked in cafes and restaurants such as La Ramblas on Toorak Road and Lorca in the CBD. Maria is a one-woman show, responsible for managing the restaurant as well as joining the chefs in the kitchen. Together they’re responsible for your healthy dose of home-cooked Spanish food, just like Maria’s grandma used to make.
Chato feels like you’ve stepped into a restaurant that’s been transported straight from the heart of Spain. Think lots of wood and exposed brick walls with wooden boxes that are home to antique Spanish tins of olive oil. The wines on display are hard to resist, with an Iberian-inspired bar that is calling your name. There are splashes of colour on the tiles, resulting in a vintage, industrial look, with dim lighting that is both moody and romantic.
The Head Chef is Ignacio Hernandez Cruanes and not only is his food delicious but ethically sourced. The seafood is fresh and sustainable, the meat is organic and the chicken is free-range. The spices are from Spain and the fresh produce is Australian, so guests get the best of both countries. So if you’re passing by during the day, he’ll have you sorted for breakfast or lunch.
For your standard breakfast fare, stick with the bircher muesli, soaked in apple juice and coconut water and served with slivered almonds, hazelnut crumble and strawberries. For something di erent, try the La Bomba – goat’s cheese and roasted cauli ower pancakes with avocado, heirloom tomatoes, a trio of mushrooms, a poached egg and romesco sauce.
For lunch, it’s difficult to look past the polluelo a la brasa, with half a spatchcock, cooked in aromatic spices, char-grilled and served with cubed, fried spuds and a spicy sauce. Fancy dinner and a drink? Bring your friends and order tapas to share, including a mixed selection of Spanish cured meats, or opt for a main meal, such as the Opera de Marisco – a traditional Catalan seafood casserole, cooked in a black clay pot with tomato, wine and a hint of chilli.
Sweeten the deal with a postre (dessert), such as the Leche Frita – a creamy custard, deep-fried and drizzled with an orange honey syrup and vanilla bean ice cream. Chocolate connoisseurs shouldn’t look past the churros, made the authentic Spanish way with a thick sweet drinking chocolate and without the sugar on top.
Once your belly is full, head over to the bar and se le in for the night. You won’t want to leave, and we don’t blame you.