Last year, Sydneysiders got their long-awaited taste of Frank Camorra‘s Spanish tapas when MoVida opened in Surry Hills.
After more than a decade since it burst into the Melbourne dining scene, Camorra’s Spanish tapas restaurant has morphed into a total of four outposts.
The first MoVida back in 2002 became so popular that MoVida Next Door had to happen and in recent years, Melbourne got its third – MoVida Aqui.
As I walk past Hosier Lane with my friends Molly and KC during lunch hour today, we try to snare a table at MoVida Next Door.
“Sorry we are full today sir”, the friendly wait person tells me.
“Perhaps you can try MoVida just up the road?” he adds.
Mysaucepan and I were truly enchanted with our first meal at MoVida Aqui more than a year ago.
I am about to dine at the original MoVida for the first time + Molly and KC are about to get their first taste of Camorra’s tapas = I am thrilled!
I like the bar seating at the MoVida restaurants.
Although you don’t have the spectacle of a Japanese sushi chef at work, checking out the cocktails being made and the anticipation of Camorra’s Spanish flavours can be quite enticing too as small dishes of tapas whizz by.
The bar is a nice place if you are dining with just another person because it is easy to converse and share food.
Expect the sangria at MoVida to be excellent because it is a two-hatted Spanish tapas restaurant after all.
It is a refreshing drink when red wine and aperitifs are in good mix in a deep, clear red.
The sourdough at Movida Aqui comes with olive oil and salt although this one here ditches the latter.
“We must have the anchoa” I tell Molly and KC. “It’s one of their signature tapas and probably the most talked about one too” I add.
The anchoa is a sliver of hand-filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on a crouton with a small dallop of smoked tomato sorbet.
How clever is it to combine the natural saltiness of anchovy, the sweetness and chill of tomato sorbet with the crunch of a wafer-thin crouton soaked with olive oil? Just for added flavour, throw in a few tangy baby capers.
I loved this mouthful of Spanish tapas the first time I tasted it and today, after a year, my sentiments are no different.
Bunuelos De Bacalao are balls of deep fried salted cod with potato fritta with pil pil. Golden brown and crispy outside, we bite into an interior filled with the flaky white salt cod.
This kind of tapas is made for an icy cold beer. The savoury cod can also be enhanced by a slightly aged and wooded chardonnay. The cool pil pil sauce makes these finger food a real delight in summer.
Oven-roasted Portobello mushrooms finished with Sherry vinegar have soaked up good lashings of olive oil and butter. They are earthy and taste good although not the most unique of tapas I have tasted.
The aromas from three small skewers of Rabo Del Toro or crispy pig’s tail with green mayo reminds me of those that come from my oven when I am roasting pork belly at home.
The green mayo is a clever balance for these salty, fatty and delicious strips of pig’s tail which could have come off the deep-fryer. The rind is crispy and I’m enjoying the gentle chew of the lean meat.
A waitress pours a deep orange garlic soup onto a small calamari ring, olive oil, garnish greens and a pinch of black pepper.
It is only a few spoonfuls of tasty, tomatoey, garlicky goodness with a treat of slightly rare squid to finish.
For a main we order a Carrillera De Buey, which is slow-braised beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez sitting on a bed of cauliflower puree.
Not the prettiest of dishes for a photo but the beef cheek is very tender and the puree throws it into the “perfect winter food” category.
The Pedro Ximenez is a Spanish grape varietal that is also used to make an intensely sweet, rich and dark sherry often drunk as a dessert wine.
The slow braise is beautiful. But I have a low tolerance for sweet tastes and I personally find this dish too sweet for my liking.
Our second main is a Callos A La Madrilena - small bits of ox tripe, spicy chorizo and chickpeas in a rich tomato red sauce.
The chorizo gives a dose of spice to the tripe which is ordinarily subtle in taste. Cooked this way, the tripe is only there for its rubbery texture and I would have preferred the tripe in bold larger slices rather than puny bits.
It is a rustic Spanish dish that I would love to cook at home because it is comforting, tasty and best of all, we use the sourdough to mop up all the tasty tomato sauce.
But for my next TV dinner, I am tempted to ditch the chickpeas and turn this dish into an Italian plate of hearty tripe and chorizo spaghetti.
The dining room is crowded and the atmosphere convivial as tapas dining should be. My second meal at MoVida is just enjoyable as my first.
MoVida is a two-hatted restaurant.
I believe it is the originality of taste and flavours, delightful and clever combination of fresh ingredients in small doses that have won the critics over.
The graffiti and street art at Hosier Lane, Melbourne
MoVida and MoVida Next Door are both located at Hosier Lane where the walls along this lane way are filled with the inspiration and passion of street artists.
Their graffiti, if at all it could be termed as such, is evocative and colourful. The images are a spectacle and it is interesting to see them turn a dull and grey wall into a colourful work of art within minutes.
Tourists and locals alike gather along this alleyway to take photos and admire these artists at work.
Here are more images of their street art which adds so much character and personality to Melbourne which I believe to be the most elegant city in Australia.
So dear readers, do you like eating a meal that is made up of small portions or do you prefer the traditional way of dining with an entree and a main course and do you have a favourite Spanish tapas to share with us?
1 Hosier Lane (off Flinders street)
Tel: +61 3 9663 3038
Open Monday to Sunday 12pm till late
Booking is recommended and maximum group is 6 people.
Chef’s banquet menu is $75 per person – a selection of 10 best dishes of the day (excludes dessert and beverages)
- The banquet menu is only available for parties of 4 or more.
- Parties of 5 or 6 are required to take the banquet menu.
- All dishes in the banquet menu are selected by the kitchen.