MoVida was the only place in Melbourne which I actually booked for, for two reasons: the first being I knew it would be busy (especially being ranked number one in Melbourne on Urbanspoon), the second that I really really REALLY wanted to try it out – it was number one on my Melbourne wishlist. We made a booking for Friday lunch, all dinner spaces having been booked out weeks in advance.
Our waiter was beyond welcoming! He was also always there when we looked for him, despite the dining room being very busy. We got the impression that at MoVida it’s all about enjoying the food and drinks your own way which made us feel very relaxed.
First of all we were brought some yummy bread which was sort of dense and crumbly, a bit like brioche (I suspected it was an olive oil or milk bread) with some very peppery, almost bitter olive oil.
To begin with, Mr Black went for an India Pale Ale called ‘Bling’. Sweet.
I have recently got back into cider, and the Spanish cider (or ‘sidra’) at MoVida was luscious. Not fermenty or sweet, almost like a sharp, dry white wine, but lighter and with a slight fizz.
Next came the difficult task of choosing only a few tapas and raciones to order – they all sounded amazing. Plus our waiter rattled off another five specials to confuse us further!
In the end we chose four tapas and three raciones to share, which the waiter informed us would be a good amount, especially if we were planning to get dessert as well.
The first tapa was Mr Black’s favourite: pollo escabache al Miguel (spicy chicken escabache on crisp croutons). Beautifully thin and crisp croutons sandwiched a filling of delicately spiced chicken/carrot/mayonnaise mixture. It was far far better then it sounds (or looks)!
I love a good croquette, so our next choice was the croqueta (fried silky croquette flavoured with jamon and egg). This is the kind of dish that would make Homer Simpson drool… Crispy deep-fried crumb encasing soft, deliciously smooth and creamy filling, oozing with cheese and with a smoky depth from the ham. Arghlghlghlghllll…
This was a pretty spectacular start to our lunch! The lamb cutlets were next, encased in a pork and paprika pate and topped with a tangy, grassy parsley concotion which was needed to balance the meatiness of the dish. They were perfectly cooked and very tasty.
Now I am lactose intolerant, but in places like MoVida or Tetsuya’s I just pop an antihistamine and antacid deal with the consequences. Especially when they have a tapa of queso Manchego (sheep’s milk cheese) with quince paste. The flavours were spot-on, but I would’ve liked a bit more quince paste or a glug of olive oil or something to prevent it from being a little too dry.
Then our raciones began to arrive. Mr Black had never tried steak tartare before and I hadn’t had it in years so we gave it a go. It was incredibly good, but so rich I wish we could’ve chosen it as a tapa rather than a (very generous) racion serve.
I was glad at this point that one of our raciones was a salad as the intense flavours (and richness and saltiness) was beginning to overload our senses! Plus it was really refreshing with crispy endive, sweet oranges, palm hearts and manzanilla olives in a very light, slightly acidic dressing.
Last, but not least, was one of the specials – deep-fried white anchovies in a tempura batter with fried pimientos de Padrón. Best dish ever!!! The anchovy fritters were lemony and piquant and salty and crisp and the peppers were the perfect sweet contrast.
Oh my! We were stuffed and very happy! Happily we’d been eating little bits slowly over an hour or so, so we figured in another 10 minutes we’d give some dessert a go. More choices to make…!
We went with the Spanish classic, churros – and a cafe con leche of course 🙂 Both were lovely, not knock-out like our tapas and raciones but a wonderful way to round off an excellent meal.
The bill totalled $134.50 (plus tip) for two hungry people, but bear in mind that even though it may look pricey, it was absolutely worth it!