Bar Topa opens at Palings Lane

Travel Obsessions By Louis Spencer JR |

Lauren Murdoch, who was the original head chef at neighbouring Felix when it opened in 2010, has excitedly returned to Merivale to lead the intimate bar. Guided by her passion for cooking food with her heart and enjoying interactions with her guests, she has collaborated with Executive Chef Jordan Toft to develop the short, but ever-changing menu.

Holding just forty standing guests, with only a few stools to sit, Bar Topa has been inspired by the informal, social experience of eating at a tapas bar and the vibrant energy that it creates. The food itself is reflective of the broader Mediterranean coast, rather than taking cues from one denomination of Spanish cuisine, while the name is derived from ‘topar’, meaning ‘to come across’ or ‘run into’. Guests are encouraged to pop in and choose a few snacks to enjoy, leaning on the bar while they decide what is next, or choose a special bottle to share amongst friends while perched in a corner. 

A perfect pit stop for someone on the go, but who still wants to enjoy the pleasures that food and wine play in one’s day, and enjoy a vibrant atmosphere in close quarters.

There are two sides to the food on offer. Small bites and snacks like sliced jamón on crisp bread or whipped salted cod, are available on the counter, allowing guests to simply point at what they like, before taking it back to the group or indulging for one. Then, there will be a selection of tapas-style dishes, cooked on ‘la plancha’, a type of flat metal grill originating from Spain that reaches extremely high-heats. Think chorizo, cooked simply, cuttlefish with parsley, garlic and olive oil, whole sardines, lightly sautéed chicken livers, patatas bravas and grilled vegetables, like grilled broccolini and romesco.

Drinks are served as half-size pours, encouraging guests to taste the different cocktails, beers and wine on offer as they graze on the menu. All priced at $8, cocktails include the Dry Martini (Vodka, Madeira, Lemon Zest), Marques (Pali Cortado Sherry, Campari, Sweet Vermouth), La Perla (Altos Reposado Tequila, Pear Liqueur, Manzanilla), Ti-Negroni (Beefeater, Campari, Sweet Vermouth) and Micro-Spritz (Aperol, Sparkling, Soda). There will also be sangria on tap, and a couple of beers served as miniatures at $4. Wines too are served as 100ml glasses, selected from a small, fun list of twelve wines and a range of sherry – curated by ivy’s Senior Head Sommelier, Jean Charles Mahe.

A contemporary interpretation of an authentic tapas bar – compact, intimate and full of energy. Space features rich and deep timber tones, earthy terracotta coloured walls and green terrazzo bar tops, further evoking that rustic Spanish feel.

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