Welcome to Melbourne Foodie. The blogspace of a young foodie with a passion for cooking, fine dining and quality food and produce.
Melbourne Foodie, along with the other sources I write for is my way of casually expressing and recording some of the experiences I have had for others to enjoy. I always welcome any feedback,
comments or restaurant suggestions you may have and would love to hear from you soon.
MUST VISIT SOON: Livingroom, Hare & Grace
MOST RECENT FEASTINGS: Pei Modern, Sarti, PM24, Vue de Monde
BLOG OF THE MOMENT: I Eat Therefore I Am
Having read mixed blog reviews including those by Thanh (neutral) & Serenity (positive) I was not completely sure what to expect but had generally high expectations. I must say though that I feel both reviews were accurate in their own ways. I generally do not tend to compare the dishes at one restaurant directly to another, but it is hard not to here after having such amazing dishes at MoVida which make some of the dishes here seem quite underwhelming. ***These two places are very different beasts though, with different food styles and different aims, hence they really should not be compared in this way and my comments will basically reflect my enjoyment of the food in a restaurant context, rather than the bar that Bar Lourinha is.
In my opinion the food at Bar Lourinha was good, but just that, not excpetional and not the sort of stuff that I would be rushing back for, especially when I can have a superior meal at MoVida for the same price. Anyhow, I am not in any way bagging Bar Lourinha, as my score will reflect. It is a good place to eat (if uncomfortable) that serves tasty food in a cosy little space, with astute and informed service to match. The seating in my opinion though is not the best - the bar stools on the communal tables are hard and uncomfortable, but that could just reflect my state at the time, looking for a better way to relax after a long day at work.
Bar Lourinha is a small establishment that is not fussed about with in its design or otherwise. There is a small lounge area at the front, long bar along the back and a couple of large communal tables; all with a view into the kitchen. A cosy place with a good feel about it, but it is so noisy that having a conversation with the person next to you can be a real challenge.
***I have now done some more research on Bar Lourinha, and must thank Stickyfingers for her comments and should report that Bar Lourinha is really that, a tapas bar, rather than a formal restaurant and hence the experience is suppose to feel this way. Its suppose to be a way to begin the evening, rather than a formal night out. In my opinion though this is not how the place is used with most guests seeming to make a night of it at Bar Lourinha.
Anyhow it is the food that you want to hear about so I will cut to the chase. We tried 10 different dishes of varying success and value. Some were reasonably good value, whilst others could be seen as a complete rip off such as the special of "lamb skewers" which at $13 each were chewy and not worth half the price.
Heres a summary of our dishes. I did enjoy most of them, the same cannot be said for all my dining companions though, but you can't please everyone.
Yellow tail kingfish 'pancetta' & lemon oil ($14) - Fresh pieces of kingfish very thinly sliced, seasoned and finished with a light lemon scented oil. A good dish but no great range of flavours. Still succeful nonetheless.
Salted cod croquette ($15) - A special - Hot, crunchy croquettes with a well seasoned, soft cod centre. Finished simply with some herbs and a tartare sauce. I enjoyed this item. We are served five pieces instead of the usual four.
Jamon ($15) - A small plate containing a few thin slices of this air dried Spanish ham, drizzled with a little olive oil. Good flavour, particulalrly the fatty bits which were gelatinous and excited the tongue, as it is not something you get to try everyday.
Lamb skewers ($26 for two) - Probably the most dissapointing dish of the night, especially given the price. The lamb was chewy and had very little flavour apart from a little olive oil and corainder. $13 per stick was not justified at all.
Grilled piri piri chicken winglets ($14) - Once again good but not great. They are basically just little wings with a spicy basting, chargrilled and finished with coriander and mint. Similar to the wings at Nandos really, but much smaller.
Twice cooked octopus and pickled cucumber ($16) - I enjoyed this. Tender pieces of octopus sat atop some slices of fresh cucumber with an acidic dressing (sorry you cannot call that pickled). This dish is once again finished simply with some corainder, and the combination of the cucumber, bitter dressing and salty octopus went together very well.
Wagyu 'carne cruda' & shaved horse radish ($15) - This is more or less a spanish interpretation of beef tartare. The difference being that it lacks all of those wonderful things added to the beef that make tartare so enjoyable. This is more or less a ball of finely chopped beef (lacked the sweetness and marbling generally associated with wagyu), with some horseradish shaved over the top, served alongside a simple salad. The meat was of a decent quality but the dish lacked additional flavour, a little bland as it was not seasoned and could thus not be enjoyed at its best. I still liked it though, which is more than could be said for the rest of the table.
Roasted mushrooms and garlic cream ($13) - Yum! I really liked these mushrooms, which were cooked perfectly, and the garlic cream sauce was absorbed by the mushrooms and tasted really good. Sorry, we dug in before the picture.
House made chorizo and apple cider ($15) - A reasonable dish but nothing exciting or special. The sausages were well made and cooked, but did not do a lot for me, nor did the sauce made from apple cider, paprika and a few cubes of apple.
To finish - Churros with a caramel sauce ($8) - A great way to end the meal. Crunchy, soft centred Spanish style doughnut sticks rolled in a cinamon sugar with a sweet caramel sauce. Really good, and priced appropriately as well. Sorry, we didn't get a picture of this one.
Bar Lourihma received a score of 14.5 out of 20 in the Age Good Food Guide. I think that is being a bit too generous here.
MY SCORE: 13.5/20 - Recommended
Overall good food: 7/10 Knowledgable service 3.5/5 Ambience 3/5 - Noisy, uncomfortable stools and paper napkins are all turn offs. This is a tapas bar though, to be expected I guess.
Thanks to stickyfingers for your comments and helping me to see Bar Lourinha in a different way. Stopping by for a glass of sherry and a couple of tapas plates before a formal dinner could be a great way to enjoy this little gem :-)