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Frequent trips to the south of Spain, eating and drinking your way across the country is a romantic idea for most. As Secret Foodies guests discovered, visiting Velero on Woolloomooloo Wharf is one culinary adventure you can experience without boarding a plane.

Instead, you’ll enjoy a Spanish Fiesta right here in Sydney at one of the cities most elegant locations.

Despite weather forecasts the sun was shining as guests arrived at the picturesque wharf. We sipped white sangria at the long open bar and whilst the main view was outside it was a chance to cool down and relax before dinner. Meeting and mingling with fellow foodies is a delightful way to spend an evening. So is nibbling Roast hazelnuts with paprika, chilli & garlic (a delicious combination I’d never tried before) and mixed marinated olives.

Velero is the newest addition to a suite of well-established restaurants at Woolloomooloo Wharf. Amongst the popular Aki’s, China Doll and Otto, Velero has quickly established a reputation of it’s own. Seated at two long tables at the front of the restaurant we had the best seats in the house. Not just for the impressive view but the giant pan of paella being cooked before us. To wet our appetite attentive wait staff poured white wine to start; a 2009 Vina Eswmeralda Moscatel & Gewurtztraminer, Torres Penedes. It’s creamy texture and buttery taste could easily keep you company on a sunny day.

The menu at Velero changes daily but an array of authentic and fusion style tapas are a regular fixture. Amongst the shared dishes was the Datiles Rellenos: Roast dates filled with valdeon (Spanish blue cheese) wrapped in pancetta. The plump, sweet date with the salty finish of pancetta was a delightful combination and my favourite tapas dish of the evening.

The Croquetas de Jamon: Cheese and ham croquettes brought back fond memories of my trip to Granada a few years ago. It was here I first tried croquettes and Velero captures the authentic traditional flavours I had experienced abroad. A nice Spanish beer would compliment this dish.

The Entrecote was an interesting dish consisting of manchego (sheep’s milk Spanish cheese) celery heart, rocket, pinenuts & Pedro Ximenez vinegar wrapped in thinly sliced seared sirloin. It was a light and fresh dish you could easily eat to yourself.

For our non-meat eaters the Vieiras: Seared scallops with piquillo peppers filled with bacaloa & saffron and the Deep fried cuttlefish were tasty treats. The scallops were cooked perfectly though if I had to be picky i’d say slightly I’d say the stuffing of the peppers was too intense for my taste buds.

With so many dishes to try and flavours to ponder it was possible to forget where you were. But then, a reality check: you are sitting on a long, elegant wharf lined with trendy restaurants, yachts and beautiful aromas. Your backdrop is an exquisite sun setting behind the Botanic Gardens and as the city skyline disappears in to a sea of lights there’s not much else to do but sit back, relax and absorb Sydney’s little piece of Spain. For once, it wasn’t just a daydream!

It’s not often you see your meal being prepared in front of you. Visually the Paella de Mariscos was an impressive. The slow cooked Spanish dish also teased the sense of smell for those close enough. The combination of Spanish rice with fresh king prawns, mussels, vongole, scallops, cuttlefish, chorizo & saffron certainly ticked the third box and taste delicious.

I remember wandering around for hours in Madrid trying to find paella for dinner one night. I could have wandered all night had someone not informed me it’s not custom to have paella at night and the only places I was likely to find it wouldn’t authentic but catering for tourists (such as my clueless self). Thankfully Velero is not a traditional Spanish restaurant. The seafood was fresh and squeezing lemon on top enhanced the flavours. I would have preferred a little more salt and as a main dish it was very filling. I can understand why you’d normally have this during the day, to give the rice time to digest.

The Ensalada de Rucula y manchego, was a nice side, a subtle salad of rocket and manchego cheese with Pedro Ximenez vinegar dressing. Our waiter poured glasses of the 2007 Sangre de Toro Garnacha & Carinena Varety, Torres Penedes, a nice smooth red to compliment these dishes.

It wouldn’t have been a Spanish Fiesta without doughnuts dunked in dulce de leche and chocolate sorbet. “Ah Churros, *reminiscent sigh*, at last we are back together. I thought I’d never see you again after that amazing day in Barcelona”. I know I’m not alone when in expressing my feelings of lust and desire to this bad boy dessert. Churros and tasting glass of Pedro Ximenez: an amazing, sweet, glorious brandy was a nice finish to our Spanish night.

Velero is the place to go for a relaxed yet chic Spanish dining experience in Sydney. Whether that be a causal glass of white sangria on a sunny afternoon or a place to celebrate a special occasion. No doubt there are more authentic Spanish restaurants in Sydney but Velero does not profess to provide a puress dining experience. Instead you’ll find a hybrid of Italian and Argentinian influences. So if you are looking for that ‘hidden lane-way, cobbled stones, flamingo dancing, guitar playing ambience’ this is not your destination. The staff however (Miguel the Manager in particular) will go out of their way to ensure your experience is special and one to remember.