Add: 1 Hosier Lane Melbourne CBD VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 3038
Visited on: 2012-04
If you live in Melbourne and haven’t been to MoVida, go. This Spanish tapas restaurant, nestled in a graffiti-covered cobbled lane near Flinders Street Station, serves innovative small bites that will keep you on your toes. The only thing you might not like about this place is how difficult it is to secure a table, and we tried to get around this problem by coming at a less popular hour - 2:00 in the afternoon – though we still had a 20-minute wait before we got seated at the bar.
But let me tell you, it’s well worth it.
To start, we cooled down with a glass of 2008 Yarraloch (12AUD), a chardonnay from Yarra Valley VIC.
MoVida offers both tapas (small dishes to be finished in a bite or two) and raciones (bigger plates to be shared amongst two or more people), and after taking a quick look at the menu, we decided to give the waiter full control over what to serve us.
The bread, a crusty, lovely loaf of Focaccia.
First, the Anchoa (4.50AUD), which is hand-filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet. This tiny bite is a grand orchestra of textures, flavors, and temperatures. The meaty fish was contrasted by crispy cheese crouton, its saltiness balanced by the mild sweetness of smoked tomato sorbet, which also gently shocked the tongue with its ice particles. What an interesting mouthful!
Next, the Caballa Ahumado (5.50AUD), house cold smoked Spanish mackerel with pine nut gazpacho sorbet. It came in a lidded cast iron dish, and as the server twisted the lid 90 degrees, a whiff of intriguing aroma instantly hit our nostrils. The fish was slightly smoked, its light and delicate flavor complemented by a creamy, nutty sorbet…So ethereal I could’ve inhaled the slice.
What came next, the Cordero Al Chilindron (4.50AUD), was a little piece of heaven on the plate. The lamb breast, slow-roasted till it almost falls apart, was undoubtedly amongst the tenderest meat I’ve ever tasted. Its flavor was enhanced by a sauce of red capsicum, tomato, and onions, and slightly tingled the tongue with a hint of paprika. The portion was small and perfect – any more of it would be too rich to take.
After 3 tapas, each a progression from light to heavy, we moved on to our first racion. Our waiter brought us the special for the day, a soupy seafood dish (30.00AUD) with a lovely aroma. The calamari was amazing, as were the mussels and the fish. We were also given more breads and told to try them with the soup, and boy did we scoop up every last drop in the bowl.
For the last dish, we were brought a plate of Carrillera de Buey (23.50AUD), slowly braised beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez on cauliflower puree. The chunk of beef cheek was supremely unctuous and fell apart easily at the fork, its richness balanced nicely by the silky smooth and naturally sweet cauliflower puree. I wish we had gone for something else, however, because the dish was too heavy for us by this point. For something lighter, I would’ve loved to try more tapas, or the Cecina (air-dried wagyu with poached egg and truffle foam) which was recommended to us by a couple sitting next to us.
Alas, we did not have room for desserts, which include a few very enticing options like churros (rich drinking chocolate and Spanish doughnuts), flan con pestinos (creme maramel served with spicy sherry pastries), and ganache (hot chocolate ganache pudding with vanilla bean ice-cream and nougat). For those with bigger appetites, come try the chef’s set menu (75.00AUD), which includes a selection of the 10 best dishes of the day. Just don’t forget to call weeks in advance to secure a reservation…