Being on leave when everyone else is back at work has its benefits. It means I'm actually available for an early dinner. Which makes walk-in restaurants an actual possibility.
So a random Friday craving for Spanish food brings H and I to MoVida where we are lucky enough to secure two seats at the bar. Finally!
|Barossa apple cider|
Drink in hand, we tackle the menu. A couple of dished jump off the page. The smoked mackerel from the tapa side, and the quail from the list of raciones. For inspiration, we ask our waiter for recommendations and he kindly runs us through the signature dishes and the specials.
As we're trying to decide on our dishes, our waiter places what we assumed to be complimentary bread on our table. What we find out upon getting the bill is that the bread comes at an opt-out $1 charge. The $1 goes to a good cause (Bread for Change) so we're happy to leave it be, but it would have been nicer to know upfront.
|anchoa - hand-filleted Cantabrian Artisan Anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet|
One of MoVida's signature dishes, and it certainly lives up to it. The 'crouton' is more like a lavosh cracker - thin and crispy, but robust enough to hold the anchovy and the delightful smoked tomato sorbet. Icy and refreshing with a subtle sweetness and acidity to counteract the saltiness of the anchovy.
|croqueta - chorizo and egg croquettes|
One of the specials on the tapas menu for the night is the chorizo and egg croquette. This is different to the morcilla one on the standard menu. The outer casing is crunchy as a croquette should be, the filling is soft and gooey, resembling a thick bechamel. There's a hint of smokey chorizo but it was difficult to identify any actual chorizo pieces.
|caballa ahumado - house cold smoked Spanish mackerel with pine nut gazpacho sorbet|
Our dish of the night. The little stone dishes are placed in front of us with their lids on but you can see wisps of smoke coming from the inside. Lift the lids, and what I think is trapped liquid nitrogen escapes in a plume of smoke. I'm loving the theatre that accentuates the fact that the mackerel is smoked. Excitement aside, the mackerel is beautifully smoked, with delicate flavours and the fish itself has a cured/sashimi texture. The pine nuts and the sorbet just really lift the dish up on so many levels.
Onto the raciones...
|cordoniz con kikos - pan seared quail breast w/ quail sausage, jamon and toasted corn|
The first of our larger dishes is the quail..The breast is perfectly cooked with a nice pink colour. I find the sausage a little odd and a little dry, not what I had expected at all. The dish is topped with a lonely slice of jamon and sprinkled with toasted corn (also not what I had expected). The corn is literally toasted corn - crunchy dried corn kernels - which is a bit of a disappointment as I had hoped for more of a grilled corn effect.
cecina - air-dried Wagyu with poached organic egg and truffle foam
Another signature dish and another hit for us. Thin slices of wagyu cover the plate in a circular fashion. On top is a perfectly poached egg sitting atop a bed of truffle foam. The waiter then breaks the egg and very swiftly cuts up the egg into the foam, mixing up all the eggy gooeyness with the rich white foam. He then methodically wraps the slices of waygy up and around the gooey centre. The salty dried meat works in perfect harmony with the rich truffle foam and runny egg yolk. A very clever (and rich) dish.
The waiters are patient and friendly and eager to engage with the customers and it's not hard to see why MoVida is ranked as one of Melbourne's best. For us, it was a nice dining experience, but in terms of menu choices, I think I have a preference for the sister restaurant, MoVida Aqui.
Overall Impression: 8.5/10