Wednesday, October 7, 2009

MoVida Next Door, Melbourne

Having arranged to meet a friend for dinner, we decided to go for tapas and what better place to go to than the much heard about Melbourne establishment, MoVida Next Door.

Movida Next Door is the 'no-bookings policy' sister right next door to the more grown up MoVida 'essential bookings' restaurant.  It is a small, but casual tapas diner that sits on the corner of Flinders Street and Hosier Lane.  With seats around the bar, wooden topped tables at the side and stools by the window, it feels all warm, cosy and friendly.

As we entered this little slice of Spain, a waitress instantly greeted and informed us that we could either sit at the bar to eat or stand by it to wait for available seats.  We opted for the latter and proceeded to order a glass of '07 Basa Blanco Verdejo, Rueda from the friendly and attentative barman.  By no means a wine aficionado, I will only say, it was light, fresh and perfect for this lovely Spring evening.

This place was buzzing tonight.  Every seat was taken when we arrived at six thirty.  Scanning the place, every diner looked happy, relaxed and extremely merry whilst chowing down the food.

The waitresses were constantly bringing out little plates of delicious looking morsels and I suddenly went from being 'I can wait a while' hungry to 'I have to eat right now' hungry.

Luckily however, we only had to wait about fifteen minutes before some seats by the window became free.  Do note, these seats make for excellent people watching!

Feeling pretty hungry but not wanting to be over zealous with the ordering, we opted for the Patatas Bravas (crispy fried spicy potatoes), Queso Zamorano (Cured sheep's milk cheese), Pincho Moruno (Moorish lamb skewers, grilled on charcoal) and Chistorra (house made chorizo in fino).   Like a lot of other tapas places that I have been to, the menu isn't huge, but is more than vast enough to order from.

Having no expectations whatsoever, the patatas bravas was the first dish to arrive.  At first I thought it was the chorizo.  But on closer inspection, it was indeed the crispy fried spicy potato slices - obviously my deliriously famished mind playing tricks on me?!  The spicy tomato salsa wasn't too spicy.  Then again due to my inherited South East asian palate, my definition of 'not so spicy' has been known to others as 'definitely very spicy'.  The paprika spiced mayonnaise was a little too much for my liking, but all together a tasty well rounded dish. 

Next to arrive was the Queso Zamorano, the cured sheep's milk cheese.  It came out in thin slithers with what we thought were bite size pieces of dried fig on the side.  We could be wrong about the fig though!  Nevertheless, the cheese was delicious and the only criticism is that we could have done with a little more on the plate.

As we continued to profess our delight in the food, the Pincho Moruno - Moorish lamb skewers arrived.  Looking utterly divine covered in herbs, I hastily grabbed a skewer and immediately started to fork off the meat onto my plate.  Cooked to perfection, moist and full of flavour, we both nodded in satisfaction.

Our final course, the homemade choriza arrived soon after.  The waitress had pre-warned us that they can seem a little dry on the mouth due to the paprika used in the recipe, but that they tasted sensational.  I eagerly tucked into our last course and yes, they did taste sensational.  They were light, juicy and oozed paprika.  At this point, we were both feeling well fed and watered with the conversation flowing.  Always a sign of a good meal in my opinion. 

By now, we had polished off all four dishes and confessed to not wanting any more to eat.  Sitting back to digest the meal, we curiously eyed up the plate of churros (Spanish donuts) with a cup of hot chocolate sauce being brought to the couple sitting next to us.  Our eyes lit up and it was a simple case of "should we, shouldn't we?" Of course we should!

The waiter came to clear our empty plates and asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu.  Too right we did and we both nodded in unison.  A quick scan through it, and the Churros con chocolate (Spanish donuts with hot drinking chocolate) came out as the immediate unanimous winner.  We gave the waiter our order and he returned not too long after with the churros.  They were lovingly covered in sugar and whilst blocking out all thoughts of calories, we both dug in by dipping the gorgeous churros into the chocolate.  The churros were hot and sugary and the chocolate sauce tasted just like heaven in a cup!  Think (english) custard made with the finest chocolate.  This dessert was so good that I imagine even Nigella Lawson would open her fridge in the middle of the night for these.

MoVida Next Door, I salute you.  This is a great place to come after work with a few friends to enjoy some delicious tapas.  The atmosphere is casual and the staff make you feel like a part of one big family of satisfied diners.

MoVida Next Door
164 Flinders Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9663 3038

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