Movida, The Original
1 Hosier Lane
It’s birthday week for Jo and I. We decided to treat ourselves to an evening at Movida and asked Cookie and Carolyn along. Lovely Susie helped us get a last minute table on a Tuesday night. We’re a rather close-knit workplace, I’ve abolished my personal antiquated notion that one shouldn’t really hangout with work colleagues since you already see them everyday. In sooth, it’s because you see your workmates everyday that after sometime, you start knowing each other’s lives quite intimately. And these workmates do essentially become friends and confidants.
I heard a lot about Movida. It’s all about Spanish Tapas. And good conversation. It’s all about edgy food. And good wine. It’s very Melbourne. It’s a small bar. It’s hidden in a graffiti-lined lane-way. You can look into the kitchen. And you talk all night while savouring small serves of poetic food.
At 7.30pm, the place was packed. The bar has a rustic, wooden feel to it. The space is dimly lit with incandescent light. The noise level was quite high. We were seated on a high-stool bar table right next to the kitchen. I loved it, because I could see how the chefs prepared the food. I liked the latticework of windows at the front. Peering out, you could see graffiti on the opposite lane-way wall.
Our waiter was very congenial in temperament and gave us an introduction to dining in a tapas bar. Tapas are individual portions of food for one person. Each person normally orders 2-3 tapas as a sort of appetiser. Raciones are larger portions of individual tapas, and for our group of four, he suggested we get about 3 raciones. It all sounded very exotic.
Actually, I enjoy entrées very much. Quite often, especially in French restaurants, I’d even prefer eating entrées over mains. So in a way, dining in a tapas bar is like having a long succession of entrées. Could it get more perfect?
We each chose 2 tapas each and ordered 3 raciones to share. The waiter whisked our menus away and returned with what felt like a bottomless jug of Sangria. He kept pouring it in as we ate and it almost never finished!
Hand filleted Cantabrian Artisan Anchovy on Crouton with Smoked Tomato Sorbet
Jo also had this tapas and she enjoyed it, loving the counterpoint between a smooth and light sorbet with the strong flavoured anchovy. I personally went “meh..”. Couldn’t say I warmed to it.
Oven baked Scallop with Jamon and Potato Foam
This was a delectable dish. Fresh warm moist scallops, a piece of cured ham on top, and then a covering of rich foam. Very unexpected flavours. The scallops spoke of the sea, but the Jamón ham pulled me back to land. Personally, I prefer consuming scallops without much overlying flavour so that I can actually taste the scallops. But just this once, I’ll put aside my pedantic preferences and concede that the scallop I’d just eaten was pretty amazing.
Air Cured Tuna Loin with Set Almond Milk and Roast AlmondJo and Cookie had this. Jo really loved it, she thought the tuna went surprisingly well with the crunch of roasted almonds.
Pork Stuffed Calamari with Squid Ink Dressing
Carolyn had this. She said it tasted delish. “The pork melts in your mouth and the calamari was succulent”
Air Dried Wagyu with Poached Egg and Truffle Foam
Movida’s signature dish. Think the waiter mentioned it was dish of the year in 2007. We were told to break the poached egg and swirl it in the truffle foam. Eating it was awkward. I found that runny egg and swhooshy foam is difficult to plop on top of a paper-thin piece of cured wagyu. It was quite fascinating in flavour and texture but I wasn’t sure if I liked it overall. However, I did find the truffle foam quite delicious. Hope it’s real truffles and not truffle-flavoured oil.
Char Grilled Octopus with Ajo Blanco, Radish and Cucumber
This was my favourite racione. The octopus was delicately grilled and its flesh was soft and perfectly seasoned with sea salt and a tangy light dressing. The portion size was also substantial. Jo prefers octopus with a firmer, springier texture and wasn’t as fond of this dish.
Carillera de Buey
Slowly Braised Beef Cheek in Pedro Ximenez on Cauliflower Puree
Jo mentioned that the beef here was quite reminiscent of a Chinese dish. I gave it a poke, the meat falls apart with the prod of a fork. Very soft and tender. It had a lavish burnt sweetness to it. But I could see what Jo meant, the beef seasoning reminded me of Hong Shao Rou, a Chinese dish where meat is braised with dark soy, sugar and 5-spices. We found this dish very very rich. Beef is already a heavy meat. Add to that a sweet seasoning and a cream-rich cauliflower puree, thats one hefty serving of richness.
Another winner. Jo and I loved it. The ganache, when broken, spilled out a deeply delicious hot dark chocolate. I love a good chocolate fondant, and this one was almost as good as Madame Sou Sou’s.
We had a very pleasant time here and the service was great. This bar is fashionable, edgy and offbeat. I think it has a modern take on tapas and I’m sure the wine list should be good. The food generally tends to leans toward the rich side. When I went home, I silently agreed with my boss, who described his experience at Movida as “it felt like all the tapas you had were fighting against each other in your tummy, churning in a sea of rich food.”