Food adventure @ MoVida Bar de Tapas
This particular food adventure was two months in the making, with Dr. V making a booking for three people almost two months ago (or perhaps longer?) And despite making a booking oh so long ago, we could only be squeezed in at 8.30pm on a Friday night. Moral of the story: seats are in high demand, especially on busier nights and bookings are highly recommended to avoid disappointment.
So close that you could almost taste it. Seriously. The aromas wafting into the alley from MoVida are enough to make your mouth water and stomach rumble.
We arrived 15 minutes earlier and aside from “enjoying” the aromas, there’s also plenty of graffiti art work to appreciate. The vibrant colours are no duller at night!
After 10 minutes of dancing around from foot to foot in attempts to stay warm, we decided to make our way inside. Fortunately our table was ready for us and it makes me wonder if we could have perhaps entered 10 minutes earlier. The warmth was instantaneous, as soon as we stepped through the threshold. It continued to grow as we moved further away from the table and settled at a nice toasty level of warmth.
There wasn’t much lighting in the interior and the dull yellow hues from the overhead lighting, combined with the amber glow of the candle light, further enhanced the dimmed atmosphere. Both offered just enough lighting to make out what we were eating but it wasn’t the best environment to take photos in without blinding the other patrons with camera flashes. There was a lot of playing around with the candles and lighting from our phones to avoid the use of the flash.
This probably gives me the perfect segue to apologise for the poor photos to come…
Our table setting for three.
The waitress who served us throughout the night was very friendly and always made sure that our water glasses were never empty for too long. She explained that the best way to approach the menu was to select 3 tapas items each and 3 raciones (share dishes).
One person decided to order a lemon lime bitter and the other two follow suit. (I was a follower…)
Complimentary bread: multigrain at the back and sourdough at the front.
The waitress mentioned that the bread comes from MoVida Bakery, a fairly recent addition to the MoVida empire. The soft and fresh-tasting multigrain tasted very much like sourdough bread with the addition of linseed and nuts. The olive oil made helped to balance out the sourdough flavour to some extent. Dr. V noted that the quality of the olive oil was very fine. The actual sourdough bread was much crisp and firm, and more difficult to break into. It tasted much more sour than the multigrain and I don’t think I have ever appreciated olive oil more than I did in this instance.
Croquetas de choco en su tinta - squid ink croqueta with cuttlefish.
This is not your typical croquette. Gone is the long, oval shape and is instead replaced by a perfectly round crumbled ball, topped with thin strip of cuttlefish. I’m normally put off by the chewy texture of cuttlefish but the texture here was very similar to a thinner version of a rice noodle: soft and almost… silky? Not a trace of chewiness. The crumbled layer was perfect, not too dry or too oily, and yielded a soft crunch as your fork or teeth broke through the layer. The top layer gave way to a soft and mashed combination of potato and squid ink. The croquette filling, similar to the cuttlefish wrap did not possess an overpowering seafood essence, if any at all. I’m not the biggest fan of seafood and so the croquettes turned out to be a pleasant and delicious surprise. And finally if we had thought the dish could not get any better, there was the dollop of creamy mayo. 100% complimentary to the crisp and crunchy layer.
Cordero al chilindron - Pyrenees wet roast lamb breast, with fino and paprika sauce.
I was not a fan due to my aversion of lamb but Dr. V and K both pegged the dish as one of their MoVida favourites. Dr. V is not usually a fan of red meats and the fact that she enjoyed it highlights how tasty the lamb must have been.
Bunuelos de bacalao con pil-pil - salt cod & potato fritters, with lemon emulsion.
I was drawn to this dish as soon as I read the word “emulsion”. Additionally, I thought the combination of ingredients were intriguing and if it was interesting that I was looking for, then the dish did not disappoint. Both the lemon and cod flavours were equally potent. A strong party of sour, salty and fishy. The crumbled layer was no different to the croqueta, but tasted bland in comparison to the other flavours. Given how strong the fish and lemon tasted, a bit of bland thrown into the mix was just what the chef ordered and helped to break up the stronger flavours. I would probably bet that you’d enjoy the dish if you normally like … anchovies.
Pollo escabache al miguel - spiced chicken escabache tapa on crisp crouton.
This was a dish that continued to grow on me with every bite until the last. Doused with splashes of vinegar, the chicken possessed a strong sweet and sour taste. Unexpected, the first bite packed a surprising punch but the vinegar taste gradually became more pleasant as the shock wore off. Adding to the potency of the flavours was what appeared to be a subtle dose of spiciness that lingered after every bite. With remnants of spice remaining from previous bites, the spice factor continued to heighten and perhaps helped to balance out the vinegar taste. The chicken was very tender and was bathed in a creamy sauce that complimented the vinegar. And if everything that made up the chicken was the ying, then the crouton layers sandwiching the chicken was definitely the yang. Firm with a crispy crunch like a thick cut of potato crisp and lightly salted, the crouton layers was the last piece of the puzzle that tied together the different flavours and textures of the dish.
Gamba - prawn and Romesco pincho.
Literally bite sized. Kudos are in order to Dr. V and her success in breaking up this tiny morsel into three tinier pieces.
The texture was not expected. Dr. V and K both tried it first and mentioned that the texture was very similar to Asian agar jelly. When I finally tried it, savoury jelly was all I could envision as I tried to make my mind up about the texture. Given the small size, and made even smaller when shared between three, it was difficult to make out the different flavours in one teensy bite. I could only pin point nutty and sweet. Interestingly, it didn’t taste like prawn and this thought was likely in part due to the different texture.
After the tapas were consumed, we faced an intermission period of almost 30 minutes before our shared dishes arrived. This allowed for the food to digest and conversation to flow.
Raciones for three. (Photo courtesy of Dr. V)
We managed to get away with only using the flash once. There was no other way of showing the delightful green colouring of the wet rice (dish on the right).
Setas asadas con jerez - oven-roasted Portobello mushrooms, finished with Sherry vinegar.
Arguably the best mushrooms I’ve eaten yet. They were very tender, succulent and juicy. Geez that sounds like I’m describing a cut of meat! The sherry vinegar taste was very overpowering, especially when your taste buds first make contact. However almost immediately, it fades or blends into the flavours of the mushroom. Tasty. The mushrooms at the bottom were doused in the vinegar and by the time we reached these, vinegar taste > mushroom taste. Much smearing against the plate had to be performed.
Cecina - air-dried Wagyu, with poached organic egg and truffle foam.
Prior to leaving the lab, Dr BH had mentioned that this Wagyu dish was a must-order. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say this about a dish but it was truly AH-MAZING. It couldn’t have been the best dish to have in terms of exercising and what not but for the taste buds, it was a delicious delight. It doesn’t get much tastier than this. We were told by the waitress to pierce the egg, mix it thoroughly into the foam and then fold the Wagyu pieces into the mix. I have only every encountered truffle with potatoes before but it looks like the potato has some competition… egg + truffle = match made in heaven. The foam was surprisingly thick and its texture was similar to that of a super duper finely mashed potato. The breaking up and blending in of the poached egg into the foam helped further add ‘substance’ to the foam. The wagyu slices were quite thin and surprisingly tender. Going by the ripples of fat cutting through meat, I expected an explosion of oil as I took my first bite. To my surprise, it wasn’t oily at all. On another note, here’s hoping I was able to burn this off during my run on Sunday…
One of the specials - wet rice with mussels, calamari and Marron, in a nettle sauce.
As this was a special and not written anywhere else on the wall/menu, we ended up getting the waitress to repeat the description twice (wow, they seem to have the memory capacity of an elephant!). We heard the words paella, risotto and wet rice to describe the dish. It wasn’t quite one or the other and the three terms used together probably gives the best description for the dish. With only a fork and a knife, it was quite a struggle to eat this dish. Using the spoon supplied, getting the rice onto our plates was the easy part. From there… struggle town. Okay, to say we struggled would be a bit of a stretch but it did take much longer to scrape together a forkful. Expect more frequent and tinier-sized bites. As with all other dishes I have tried to date that feature nettle, this one exhibited a vibrant green colour and was very salty. I set aside my qualms with seafood items such as mussels and calamari for this dish because they were necessary to help break up the saltiness. Very fresh tasting. Towards the end, the remainder of rice had soaked up too much of the salty flavour and the absence of seafood meant that we could not finish off the dish. It mattered not anyway because we were trying to make enough room in our stomachs for dessert.
20 minutes later, we decided we had enough room to share one dish between the three of us.
Pera - cinnamon sponge, with pear sorbet. (photo courtesy of Dr. V)
Admittedly I was a little disappointed because the presentation didn’t live up to what I had imagined in my mind as I first read the description on the board. BUT, what this dish lacked in presentation, it made up for in taste. The soft and moist but firm sponge tasted like apple cake (probably because of my association of cinnamon with apples). While the cinnamon flavour was well defined, some bites almost tasted bland due to the thickness of the sponge. The pear sorbet was a stark contrast to the sponge: cold and flavoursome to a different extent. Fruity and very subtly sour. Combine that with the sponge and that’s when a winning combination arose. I wasn’t a fan of the pear pieces because they had been soaked in a vinegar of some sort (so much vinegar on the menu!) but when eaten in tiny portions or in combination with the sponge AND sorbet, it wasn’t too bad.
The next installment of the VKM adventures did not disappoint and may have in fact exceeded my expectations prior to dining at MoVida. With dishes like the truffle Wagyu and squid ink croqueta, MoVida Bar de Tapas takes tapas dining to a whole new level. I walked out of the restaurant tempted to get myself another booking in probably what will be another two months time…
MoVida Bar de Tapas
1 Hosier Lane,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9663 3038