We’re excited about Rubia. Backed by Epicurean Group, this is the new Spanish restaurant that boasts the same culinary team behind Sheung Wan tapas bar fave Pica Pica, with lovable Spanish chef Edgar Sanuy Barahona in the lead (we’ve been fans ever since he won our Foodie Forks Chef of the Year award back in 2013 for his SoHo Spanish restaurant BCN).
At Rubia, the focus is not on tapas but steak cuts from northern Spain, with the famed grass-fed Rubia Gallega beef from Galicia at the heart of the meaty menu. Also linked to the “Rubia” moniker is the restaurant’s drink list. We were told that 99 per cent of Spanish beer is “rubia”, or blond, and you can find this Spanish golden lager on Rubia’s drink list alongside a succinct, carefully curated selection of cocktails featuring classic tipples with a Spanish influence, making them smoother and more easy drinking, and Spanish and New World wines. So “Rubia” is quite a thoughtful name (not to mention being easy on the tongue), tying together food, drink and provenance.
To start, we whet our whistle with a sherry tonic ($80), a twist on a G&T made with Tío Pepe sherry – sherry is
not just for grannies anymore! This drink is lighter and sweeter than its gin-based counterpart.
And then the tapas started flowing. Tomato bread ($33) is a classic for a reason, and it was paired with not (the
often obscenely overpriced) Ibérico ham but, instead, 23-month Teruel ham ($40/25g), the ham that’s normally eaten at home in Spain, but at a fraction of the cost. Teruel is fatty, salty and aromatic – delicious.
Another tried-and-true tapas dish is grilled padrón peppers ($75). Rubia’s arrived hot and blistered, served with a liberal sprinkling of rock salt to really amp up the flavour.
These grilled vegetables with romesco ($75) were heavenly, both to look at and in taste – eat the rainbow! We loved the addition of purple sweet potato.
Then came the huevos rotos, or broken eggs, with chorizo ($73). Talk about comfort food – perfectly crisped
fried potatoes and chorizo topped with two fried eggs. And once you break those eggs and mix, the yolky goodness coats everything. Simple but heavenly.
The most expensive tapas dish on the menu is this tuna tartare ($180). We enjoyed the addition of the creamy
avocado purée and the Asian accents of soy and sesame in the tuna itself.
When it comes to the mains, the steak is the star of the show. We tried both the 250g Rubia Gallega boneless rib-eye ($480) and the 200g Rubia Gallega tenderloin ($495). The tenderloin was the surprise winner, much more flavourful than we had anticipated AND it had a melt-in-the-mouth texture – you don’t often get both good flavour and texture in a tenderloin. All steaks come with a terrific trifecta – fries cooked in extra-virgin olive oil and garlic, roasted piquillo peppers and butter lettuce salad with mustard dressing – providing saltiness, sweetness and acidity to complement the savouriness of the beef. Think of this as Spain’s answer to steak frites – take that, France!
While the steaks were undoubtedly delicious, they competed with the black fideos with Spanish red king prawns and aioli ($350) for attention. These short, thin, vermicelli-like squid-ink noodles are filled with garlicky, bold flavours from the aioli and prawns – don’t forget to break open the prawn head and mix in all that rich, prawny goodness!
The baked-to-order hot chocolate cake with candied orange, hazelnut and chocolate cardamom ice cream ($70) is certainly a lovely dessert, but we’d recommend the warm cheesecake with whisky ice cream ($70) for a unique change of pace. Made with blue cheese, this is not your typical NYC-style cheesecake with fluffy cream cheese. Much more dense and savoury, it’s ideal for those craving a cheese plate for dessert but who also want a little something sweet.
In a pretty depressing F&B landscape at the moment, Rubia is a bright new spot. The food is authentic and delicious, the prices are reasonable (everything is meant for sharing) and, as at Pica Pica, the space is charming and like a little slice of Spain in the 852. We’ll be back to try the downstairs taberna-style bar menu complete with small bites like cured white anchovies on potato chips and sandwiches (¡hola, chorizo Ibérico bikini!) and a notable two-for-one happy hour (daily except Sunday, 3–7pm).
UG/F and 1/F, C Wisdom Centre, 35–37 Hollywood Road, Central, 2889 1199
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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