Six months ago my sister-in-law and a friend of hers booked tickets for Cats, which has just commenced a 3 week run at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre. As is their tradition when going to the theatre they booked a restaurant for dinner before the show. About a week before their night out, my sister-in-law’s friend discovered she couldn’t go and I got the call to see if I wanted to avail myself of the ticket. I saw Cats about fifteen years ago with my parents, and whilst the memory was a bit blurry, it was positive, so I said yes.
Then the clincher came, “We’ve booked MoVida for dinner first, do you want to come to that too?”
Do I? Mr Mistoffelees can prance and prowl on his own, I’m going to MoVida!
The excitement comes from the fact that “Bookings Essential” is a gross understatement when applied to Melbourne’s most renowned Spanish restaurant. This continues to be one of the hardest restaurants to get into in Melbourne, such is its enduring popularity. Even the advent of MoVida Next Door which opened (literally next door) in 2008, and MoVida Aqui which joined the family last year, nothing beats the original. The Age Good Food Guide rated it two hats in 2010, not to forget that Frank Camorra was Chef of the Year in 2008 and the dish “Cecina” – a luscious combination of runny poached egg with slices of Wagyu bresaola and truffled foam was awarded inaugural Dish of the Year in 2007.
But enough of the accolades and on to the feast.
Both my sister-in-law and I have dined at MoVida before (and remember every mouthful!) so we knew that one of the best ways to enjoy the creative cuisine is to put ourselves in the (very capable) hands of the floor staff.
I will apologise at this point for the poor quality of the photos. The lighting was dim, but I can usually overcome that. I had camera issues (fitting after my week of technology woes) and focus was just not my friend. Add to that a gentleman next to me that was very fidgety and kept bumping me and I had no chance. At least you will get the idea..
After whetting our appetite with a glass of 2005 Vallformosa Extra Seco Penedes Spain 11.00, we started the tapas with a dish that makes my sister-in-law almost go weak in the knees; Anchoa 4.50 ea. Hand filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet
We moved on to Gambas con Romesco 3.30 ea. Prawn Pincho with Romesco. Pincho has two meanings in Spanish. Literally it means thorn or spike, and in Basque, Pintxo is the name of certain snacks (those with a cocktail toothpick/spike!) served in bars. The prawn in this was pressed like a terrine, then cubed. The small dollop of romesco sauce, which is always great with seafood, added a smoky, smooth richness.
Then had one of my favourites, Viera 4.80 ea. Roasted Spring Bay scallop with jamon and potato foam. The foam is really smooth and the salty hit of jamon contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the scallop.
The smoking of the mackerel in the next dish made it almost taste like ham. The flavour of the fish was brought out further with a Pedro Ximenez reduction and complemented by the refreshing sorbet. Caballa ahumado 18.50. Tom Cooper’s smoked spanish mackerel with pine nut gazpacho sorbet
Next in our parade of dishes was the first of two Raciones. To accompany them, we switched to drinking a lovely Tempranillo, 2005 Loriñon Crianza Rioja Spain 11.00
Migas Con Codornices 16.00. Pan seared Quail Breasts with Fried Bread and Grapes
Quail can be messy and challenging to eat sometimes, but not if it is deboned and given a crisp skin like these morsels.
And finally one of the daily specials, Cabrito 20.00. Slow roasted baby goat. The goat was really tender and had good gamy flavours that were not overpowering.
It was an excellent meal and I am absolutely sure that we could have found room for dessert, or queso (cheese) but the curtain was soon to be raised at The Regent Theatre.
So out we went, back up the colourful Hosier Lane. We had some Cats to watch.
A big thank you to Nat who let me take her place for this delightful evening of memories.
Open daily, Noon to late.
1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne, 3000 (Melways: Map 1, B12)
Bookings Essential Phone (03) 9663 3038.