Farah Celjo. The building is an old converted house that channels the nonchalant speakeasy - small and non-descript. Knock on the giant green door and then wait to be ushered into a giant room filled with wooden tables and chairs with a cosy bar and kitchen at the back. The walls are decorated with memorabilia and photos from events and club members, past and present - you've just entered into the oldest Basque club in Australia.
Gure Txoko, which means "our corner" was founded in 1966 by 26 families that had migrated to Australia. Completely volunteer-run, the Gure Txoko Basque Club is part of the Basque Government Euskal Etxeak (Basque houses) network, which connects Basque communities all over the world. "These places are meant to be spaces where Basque people share their culture, traditions and language with the communities they live in," says volunteer Izaskun de Allende. It has become a cultural and social hub - from parties and events to sporting activities and language classes - as well as home to their popular Sunday lunches that do everything but break the bank.
Prepared by the club's members who volunteer their time and services, lunch is served every Sunday at 2pm and bookings are essential. $25 ($20 for members and $12.50 for children) will present you with a menu consisting of an entree, main, dessert and coffee. And if you like a nip with your lunch, then $5 beers and $4 glasses of red and white should do the trick.
While the menu varies from week to week, it's not only and always Basque cuisine that takes the stage. You can expect home-style, rustic dishes from other cuisines as well. "Dishes from other cultures are also added as we have more and more people interested in participating and cooking with us," Allende tells SBS. While the dishes can vary, the buffet-style approach and the cost remains the same. Typical dishes have their own spin from the different cooks and a few regular highlights include: marmitako (Basque fish stew), piperade (roasted capsicum) with fish or meat, filled peppers, txipirones en si tinta (cuttlefish on ink), porrusalda (leek stew), bowls of salmorejo (a thicker version of gazpacho), albondigas (spicy meatballs) and a generous wedge of cake or their baked cheesecake - a recipe that comes all the way from a restaurant in Donostia.
Sundays just got a whole lot cheaper and cheerful thanks to a long and relaxing three-course menu paired with an optional game of cards (mus), court sports out the back (pelota) and of course hanging with old friends and new. If this becomes a regular Sunday event, then you might just have to go one further and become a club member. #makeitofficial
Gure Txoko Basque Club Sydney
344 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst, NSW
Open for lunch on Sundays only: 12pm-6pm
***Ensure you book by 5pm the Friday prior to attending