Sardines, or pilchards, are small, oily fish related to herrings and named after the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which they were once abundant.
Sardines date back to time immemorial, but it was the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte who helped to popularise these little fish by initiating the canning of sardines, the first fish ever to be canned.
In 1795, Napoleon offered a cash prize to anyone who could develop a reliable method of preserving food safely to feed the French Army and Navy. The winner, in 1806, was a French chef called Nicholas Appert, who developed the process behind canning. Sardines are typically tightly packed in a small can. The close packing of sardines in the can has led to the metaphorical use of the name in describing any situation where people or objects are crowded together, for instance, in a bus or train.
Sardine Tin is a small closely packed restaurant opposite South Bank Parklands – not far from its compact sister restaurant, Piaf. Basically it’s a small bar with a few alfresco tables and chairs, offering a simple tapas-style menu of small sharing plates, which change regularly, along with daily chalkboard specials and a range of wines by the glass and bottle.
Share some classic Manzanillo Olives ($6), crispy Eggplant Fritters ($8) or cured Ocean Trout with Horseradish Crème Fraiche ($10) and of course, Sardines, marinated and served with a smoked tomato granita seductively presented on a rock ($12) – an excellent blend of flavour, texture and temperature. The Hamhock & Parsley Terrine can be had alone ($10) or as part of the Charcuterie Tasting Plate ($25) which varies daily.
There are some light meals such as the Beef Brisket Burger or Market Green Risotto ($16) if you don’t wish to share. The home-cut Fries with Aioli ($8) are excellent – but the single slice of Olive Bread for $8 is a little pricey! Finish off with a cheese platter ($12 to $25) or a dessert ($8).
There is a good range of reasonably priced local and imported wines by the glass and bottle, as well as beer, soft drinks and coffee. The service is friendly and quick.
Sardine Tin is a great place to while away some time and share a few grazing plates whilst enjoying a glass of wine and watching the passers-by on Little Stanley Street.