Ryan & Carla of Andaluz Bar & Tapas
When Ryan Gregory and Carla Arevalo happened upon a warren of ramshackle basement offices in a stately heritage building for lease on Howard Street in the middle of Perth’s CBD, they didn’t need vision goggles to see the potential.
With their idea of a contemporary tapas bar already in the making, they jumped at the opportunity to transform the space into a stylish, cosy hideaway in which to enjoy a glass of wine and share great food with friends.
Three years later, Andaluz has become one of Perth’s premier drinking and dining spots, with chef Scott Alfonso constantly evolving its inspired menu of classic and modern tapas dishes focusing on fresh, seasonal produce. Dishes of the moment include braised wild rabbit croquettes with salsa verde, panfried Fremantle sardines with oregano, lemon and olive sauce; and house cured and smoked ocean trout with garlic cream, pickled lemon and watercress.
Along with an eclectic wine list covering a range of styles and regions from Australia and Europe, Andaluz’s slew of old-school cocktails - Manhattan, Sidecar, Negroni - are befitting of its well-worn Chesterfields and moody lighting.
Tell us a little about Andaluz.
Ryan: We didn’t follow any sort of trend, we had a concept and we stuck to it. In terms of that style of eating, we eat like that all the time. We were one of the first five small bars in Western Australia, moving away from the beer barn. When we started, I was behind the bar and Carla was on the floor. It was very personal. The focus is on making people feel comfortable when they walk in, whether they have a quiet glass of wine or something to eat with their friends.
What’s key to a memorable dining atmosphere?
The main thing is who you’re with. You could be at a two-bit kebab shop or a Michelin-starred restaurant, it’s the people you’re with that makes it memorable. But it’s also about the environment and attention to detail; you could have the best food in the world and the lighting could be wrong.
What's your food and drink philosophy?
At Andaluz, we keep it very simple. The food has a rustic, Mediterranean feel and it has to be shared; it’s not about entrees and mains. For drinks it’s all about education and offering things that challenge people. You see many venues with the same wine list because its been designed by the same beverage corporation. In terms of cocktails, we love old school classic styles with quality ingredients that can be drunk with grace. We’re about the flavours of the spirits; it’s not about masking them with other ingredients. We cater to older clientele who like to eat and drink responsibly and who understand that we’re a bar, not a restaurant. They trust the advice of our staff who are passionate, professional and educated.
What's your favourite dish and wine combo?
Ryan: At the moment, my favourite dish is veal sweetbreads with fresh figs, frisee and goat’s curd. I’m a big fan Gran Reboreda Treixadura (Ribiero), which is a perfect summery white wine with anything or just on its own.
What was the approach to creating the interior space of Andaluz?
Carla: Because it’s a federation building, we wanted to to throw in some period furniture and objects, and mix them up with modern pieces. We also had to consider furniture that lends itself to the size and shape of the rooms. The result is kitschy Gentlemen’s Club; dark and moody. I love shopping for fun antiques and quirky vintage pieces. I’m constantly looking for something to add charm and I’m always revitalising the look and feel of Andaluz. I’m always inspired by other venues I’ve seen in Sydney, Melbourne, London and Tokyo.
Who or what inspires you? Who do you admire from here or abroad?
Ryan: Russell Blaikie from Must Winebar in Mt Lawley; he’s an operator that has a concept and has stuck with it. That consistency is what every bar or restaurant owner should aspire towards.
My love of food, booze and hospitality was inspired by my mother, Julia. She had me in the kitchen at a really young age and always wanted to impart her knowledge and love of food. She is the perfect host and the kind of person everyone should meet in their life.
What's Perth's best kept secret?
Dear Friends in the Swan Valley. They’ve only just recently received the accolades they deserve. They source all their wine and food from the Swan Valley and are so passionate about hospitality.
21 Howard St, Perth. T: 9481 0092
Andaluz Bar & Tapas
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