MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

Movida Aqui, Melbourne

MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

When Frank Camorra’s MoVida first took Melbourne by storm back in 2002, it was a little bar in a back lane serving Spanish tapas and shared plates.

Fast forward nine years and there are two new instalments to the original joint – MoVida Next Door and MoVida Aqui. Word has gone out the MoVida fever is now spreading to Sydney, purportedly taking over the site at Jared Ingersoll’s Cotton Duck in Surry Hills.

When Mysaucepan tried to make reservations at MoVida a few years ago, the restaurant was booked out for three months. So on our trip this time, she made reservations for lunch way in advance.

Finally, we find ourselves at MoVida Aqui in Bourke street in the heart of Melbourne CBD today.

Movida Aqui, Melbourne

MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

The alfresco dining is surrounded by olive plants and as good a Melbourne day as it is today, we are choosing a table for two inside the restaurant where we are seated directly opposite the open kitchen where we can feast our eyes on the chefs working their theatrics.

Dining at the bar, Movida Aqui, Melbourne

Dining at the bar, MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

It is an exciting dining room at MoVida Aqui where diners can choose to have their tapas and shared plates at the bar or be seated in a more intimate private area at the rear end of the restaurant.

Table setting, Movida Aqui, Melbourne

Table setting, MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

The warmth of the sun is beautiful on this cool autumn day and our table is bathed with natural light, a dream setting for food bloggers fussy about taking that so-called “perfect” shot of their food.

Sangria $9

Sangria $9

Mysaucepan orders a sangria to get a refreshing taste of Spain. Here, it’s lighter on the red wine and has an added splash of campari, with just the right amount of kick to give her a happy buzz.

Bread, EVOO and salt

Bread, EVOO and salt

We are greeted with complimentary bread served on a wooden board and this would soon become a prelude to the presentation style of MoVida’s signature tapas.

On the ball: Chefs at Movida Aqui, Melbourne

On the ball: Chefs at MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

The bonus of being able to watch the chefs at work and the aromas from the kitchen so close to our table is working up a healthy appetite.

The MoVida menu has struck a chord with the new style of dining, that is lighter, more sociable yet exciting, with its flexibility for sharing. You can graze on tapas all day over a few drinks or just nibble on them as entrees before moving into the more substantial mains. Each course offers the best of Spanish flavours with Frank Commora’s surprising twists and turns.

Anchoa $4.50

Anchoa $4.50

We order one of the most talked about tapas of MoVida, the Anchoa – a hand-filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on a crouton with smoked tomato sorbet, garnished with baby capers, diced parsley and a little extra virgin olive oil.

Who would have thought of pairing the refreshing chill of a smoky tomato sorbet with a salty sliver of anchovy on top of a crispy crouton but it works beautifully. This stroke of genius has obviously made the Anchoa tapas one of MoVida’s seven classics on its menu.

Abalone $7.50

Abalone $7.50

The Abalone arrives thinly sliced. The flavours from the sea are enhanced with specs of yellow caviar and a foamy oyster emulsion. A wafer-thin slice of crispy King Brown mushroom is dehydrated into an interesting crisp.

Gamba Con Sobrasada $8.50

Gamba Con Sobrasada $8.50

Gamba Con Sobrasada is a prawn that is smoked, then seared “a la plancha” on a flat grill, with a charred exterior and a slightly rare interior. Within the crispy pastry, we can taste a puree of capsicum, garlic and paprika.

Bomba $4.80Bomba $4.80Bomba $4.80

Bomba $4.80

Another signature tapas is the Bomba, which arrives in a crusty golden brown ball filled with creamy mash and minced chorizo.  By now, MoVida Aqui is clearly impressive, with elegant and unsuspecting flavours cleverly paired with interesting textures.

Camerones $14.50

Camerones $14.50

Camerones or school prawns seem to be a current craze in many new Sydney restaurants and has become one of my favourites.

The Japanese, Greeks and Thais seem to have their own version of camerones and the magic of the accompanying dip is just as important as deep frying these little prawns to a crisp.

Camerones $14.50

Camerones $14.50

At MoVida, the prawns are dusted in semolina, paprika and then deep fried. The ali oli dip is rich, creamy and generous in complementing the salty crisp of each prawn.

Codorniz Con Kikos $21.50

Codorniz Con Kikos $21.50

We finish off our meal with the Codorniz con kikos – a grilled quail stuffed with duck liver parfait that is served with a sweet corn puree and topped with a healthy sprinkle of toasted corn kernels.  There is a wonderful interplay of tenders  between the tender quail against the creamy corn puree and the crunch of the toasted corn.

In full throttle: Movida Aqui, Melbourne

In full throttle: MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

The Anchoa, Abalone, Bomba and Gamba con sobrasada are four out of seven tapas classics on MoVida’s menu. We have no doubt the other three that we did not sample are equally impressive.

For jamon lovers, the menu offers both the Serrano and Iberico variety with pa amb tomaquet. The Serrano is the ‘Montesano’ artisan mountain ham aged for 24 months at $15.00 for 50 gms. The Paletilla Iberico or black pig variety is a front leg ham aged for 24 months and at $28.50 for 50gms, it is worth noting this price equates to $570.00 per kilogram.

Al fresco dining at Movida Aqui, Melbourne

Al fresco dining at MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

Movida Aqui, Melbourne

MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

MoVida Aqui is impressive because flavours are surprising and each mouthful packs a gutsy punch, both in taste and textures.

Obviously a lot of thought has gone into creating food with a difference. Service is equally impressive as knowledgeable staff help us navigate a menu that brings out the best in imported and local ingredients paired with innovative cooking.

This restaurant has elevated tapas dining to a new level. The next time we come back, it will be with a larger group of friends to sample a spread of tastes and flavours that has obviously stamped the MoVida brand as cutting-edge and given Melbourne foodies a new-world Spanish.

So dear readers, what is your favourite Spanish tapas?

MoVida Aqui
Level 1, 500 Bourke street
Melbourne (Access via Little Bourke street)

Lunch & Dinner:
Monday  – Friday 12 noon till late.
Saturday – 6pm until late.
Sunday – Closed.

Tel: 03 – 9663 3038 for reservations.

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13 Responses to MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

  1. I really enjoyed my meal here too and it’s funny that you mention the natural light as I remember being rather glad that there was so much nice light :)

  2. The food here looks amazing. I definitely need to make a trip here when I go to Melbourne next!

  3. I saw Lorraine’s comment and wondered it would be nice to see you two have a meal together and do a collaborative post. Wish I could join though if/when that happens… Agree about going to tapas place with a large group so we can sample all the dishes from the menu. This place looks amazing! I love helpful and knowledgable staffs!

  4. I love tapas especially if it’s served in a restaurant with atmosphere and wonderful surroundings. The dishes look great. I particularly like the look of the quail with sweet corn purée. GG

  5. sophia says:

    Whoooaa….everything looks amazing!!! No wonder it was booked straight for 3 months. I love the way they played with textural contrasts.
    As for my favorite Spanish tapas, it may be the Spanish tortilla.

  6. Carolyn Jung says:

    The seafood looks astonishingly good. Ahh, how I miss Melbourne. Gotta go back again. 😉

  7. Whoah your photos are really good! ESP all the prawns in that Camerones!

  8. Sissi says:

    It has absolutely but absolutely nothing to do with Spanish tapas bars we have here (and given the number of Spanish immigrants or people with Spanish origins, it’s outrageous there is not a single good tapas bar). All the tapas look extraordinary, but if I can order (may I?) I would take the bomba and the abalone I have never tasted, but have heard so many things about… (It is an eringi chip beside the abalone? Eringi is one of my favourite mushrooms).
    Your photos are simply breathtaking.

  9. Beautiful photos of beautiful food. I love tapas and when we were in Spain my favourite were the white anchovies with lemon and olive oil. Stunning. Having said that, I also adored the simplicity of pan con tomate, just good crusty bread rubbed with a sliced tomato and garlic clove. Looks like Movida is bring a real taste of those Spanish classics to us here in Oz!

  10. This looks wonderful! I love the concept of tapas, and the possibility to try many different flavors and share. I’ve once eaten at a very good tapas restaurant and enjoyed it so much, but it’s many years ago already.

    Do you eat those little shrimp with shell and legs and eyes and whiskers and everything? 😯

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Kath,

      I was a bit indifferent to Spanish tapas until my experience at Movida. Yes, a dip of those shrimps into the ali oli dip and pop them whole into the mouth, shell, legs, eyes, whiskers and all for a beautiful explosion of flavours and textures :)

  11. Looks like you had an enjoyable experience at Movida Aqui. We also went there for dinner on a recent trip to Melbourne, and the place has a different atmosphere at night time. I enjoyed the food very much, and I loved the big space of Movida Aqui, so I wonder how this would compare with the original Movida.

  12. shamsher says:

    I love the look of this restaurant and all those desserts are amazing

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