De Los Santos is an old Fitzroy stalwart, back before the days Spanish food became the hippest cuisine in town.
Frankly, I don’t think it’s the best Spanish food in the city – that award goes to MoVida Aqui (and the other MoVidas). The ambience is pleasant inside the quiet, dark dining room, the food varies from great to passable and on a Monday night the service was a bit scatter-brained and we had to gesture several times for various things in a half-empty space.
I don’t know whether it was our particular menu choices but we seemed to eat a procession of fried tapas during the night. From memory the menu did seem to include a lot of fried stuff. This is cheating in my view – everything tastes better fried.
We started off with some heavily battered zucchini flowers ($14 for 4), flaky beef empanadas ($12 for 3), a bowl of garlicky prawns in sherry butter sauce ($16); some delicious pan fried potato herb and cheese dumplings with toasted pine nuts and raisins ($12) and slices of rather chewy wagyu bistec served with some unattractive lumpen roasted garlic puree ($14).
Still hungry, the four of us continued onto a great tomato, spinach, goat’s cheese and avocado quesadilla ($13 for 4), more fried ham croquettes ($12 for 4) and slices of moist tortilla served with a thick garlicky aoli ($11) – probably one tapa too many.
Overall De Los Santos isn’t bad, and our bill came to around $25 a head. But it gets a NOT because it’s just not so good that I’d be hurrying back, and there are lots of places in Brunswick Street vying for my custom. In fact, next time I’d just as rather go to Vegie Bar.