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Thursday, October 25, 2007
MoVida Restaurant (City)
Tonight I finally got to visit MoVida - Bar de Tapas Y Vino - Spanish restaurant, a restaurant that I have been meaning to try out for quite some time now. After hearing a lot of good things about MoVida in the press and throughout the blogosphere I was anxious to try out this establishment for myself, and see whether the food lives up to recent hypes. The ultimate verdict: yes, it certainly does.

After initially making plans on having dinner at nearby Ezard, I received a phone call from MoVida in the afternoon offering me a reserved table in their bar area. This was an offer to good to refuse and I immediately said yes, excited to finally be eating here. Upon arrival you notice that MoVida is divided into two halves: a more formal restaurant area; and a casual bar area, with seating around the main bar station as well as tall, narrow tables behind this area, which do not look overly comfortable. I am seated at the bar and consequently have a comfortable seat with a good view to the kitchen and bar. This seems to be a great spot to eat and everything feels very right, and comfortable here, which is not always the case in such establishments. A very good start.

After briefly pondering the menu, which is divided into two parts: tapa (small dishes) and racion (larger dishes – equivalent to a generous entrée size) I decide that I will leave it to my waiter to order for me. As I am fairly hungry he suggests two tapa and two racion, which along with dessert make for a fairly substantial, great value dinner. The menu is quite diverse and has a plethora of dishes to suit everyone’s taste and budget. Better still it is much more affordable than many high-class restaurants and it is possible to eat an excellent quality, fulfilling meal for about $40-$60 per person (not inclusive of drinks), even less for those who are not big eaters.

Here is a summary of all of the excellent courses I enjoyed on the night:

“Ortiz” $4.50 – A Cantabrian artisan anchovy sitting atop a crunchy sour dough crouton finished with a refreshing quenelle of smoked tomato sorbet, green capers and a light drizzle of olive oil. This was an amazing way to start and the combination of ingredients worked together so well. The crunchiness of the crouton along with the saltiness of the anchovy and the sweetness and earthiness of the sorbet. It all just came together perfectly and worked well in getting the palette ready for the nights’ offerings.

“Caballa Ahumado” $18 – The dish of the night and one of the best things I have eaten this year. What you receive is a generous plate of thinly sliced, smoked mackerel (carpaccio style). This is topped with pine nuts and micro herbs and is finished with a creamy dressing and a quenelle of gazpacho sorbet. The fish is so soft and has a wonderful smoky flavour. The dressing is sweet and creamy and the sorbet just adds a whole other element to the dish, as do the herbs and pine nuts. This really is an amazing dish and I highly recommend everyone trying it.

“Costilla” $5.80 – An excellent lamb cutlet, slow cooked and finished in a sweet paprika crusting. This is cooked through, a little more than my usual liking, but is so tender that it almost falls off the bone and tastes amazing. The cutlet is served with a nob of green coloured paste, which adds an extra dimension of colour and flavour to the dish.

“Carillera de buey” $16 - Another exceptional, rich and generous dish. What you get is a wonderful piece of beef cheek, slow braised in a pedro ximenez sherry reduction and served on a celeriac mache with the intense sherry jus. This was so good. The meat was unbelievably tender and gelatinous, the jus sweet and sticky and the mache was a perfect accompaniment to the dish. Another “WOW” dish and great value. The waiter certainly did an excellent job ordering for me.

Dessert – “Ganache caliente con turron” $12.50 – An excellent way to finish the evening. What you get here is a nice sized rich, hot, chocolate pudding filled with a chocolate ganache centre finished with a drizzling of custard anglaise, sliced nougat pieces and a spoonful of house made vanilla bean ice-cream. An excellent dessert, and a great, richer way to end the meal. Many lighter dessert options are also available for those who are inclined that way.

To drink: Marquez Tempranillo ($16/ glass) – A lovely medium bodied Spanish red that goes well with the food and is easy to drink.

With dessert: Piedra Luenga ‘Organic’ Pedro Ximenez ($9/ glass) – An organic sherry that is not your typical style. Very sweet, light and mallow – goes well with the rich chocolate dessert.

Overall the dishes which I received were all of an exceptionally good standard, the ambience of the restaurant was nice, though perhaps a little fast paced and service was friendly and efficient, albeit unusual, being served by waiters directly from the bar. The value was also excellent: all up my meal was under $100 + a generous tip ($41 of this being for liquor).

To the young lady and gentleman sitting next to me at the bar, if you are reading this please feel free to post your comments on MoVida and let my readers and I know of your favourite dishes.

MoVida was awarded One Chefs Hat and received a score of 15.5 out of 20 in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide. If they continue to raise the bar and keep up the excellent standards I am confident that a second hat is not too far away.

My rating for MoVida is: 16.5/20
Excellent Food (8.5/10), Good atmosphere, informal comfortable feel (4/5), Very Good Service (4/5) – The waitstaff deserve bonus points for doing such a great job in choosing such a perfect and diverse spread of dishes for me. Excellent restaurant – Very highly recommended!


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  posted at 2:01 AM  

At October 25, 2007 at 11:53 AM, Blogger Truffle said...

Always lovely to see another Melbourne food blogger. Welcome :)

At October 25, 2007 at 3:37 PM, Blogger stickyfingers said...

Frank Camorra goes from strength to strength. I have been a long time fan and have never had anything that disappointed the palate there. The laneway venue is perfect for this idiosyncratic business and the buzz of the crowd adds to the vibe. Love your work Jon.

At October 25, 2007 at 11:37 PM, Blogger Jon! said...

Thanks for your comments guys. I always appreciate your work. I look forward to visiting MoVida on a regular basis and trying all of their amazing dishes. :)

At October 27, 2007 at 10:27 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm the gentleman referred to at the end of this post. Good post - enjoyed it. And I enjoyed Mo Vida also. Perhaps the only real criticism of MV is the limited by-the-glass selection - the sherry selection in particular was small and unadventurous. And Jon - the grape name we were after was palomino!

At October 28, 2007 at 10:10 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

Welcome to the Melbourne blogosphere, Jon.

Am yet to visit...but all reports suggest a fabulous night.

At October 28, 2007 at 9:59 PM, Blogger Jon! said...

Thanks Lucy - yes a fabulous night, and thanks for your comment Richard. True with the wines, but I was happy with my selection. The wine list is small but I feel it is chosen quite well. And yes, the choice of 2 sherries was less than you could expect - went well with dessert but there was no real pizazz or spiciness to it. In the mood for Spanish again I tried a large selection of dishes at Bar Lourinha with a group of friends last night. The food in my opinion was fairly good and similarly priced, but not nearly as good as the dishes I ate at MoVida. Thanks for that grape name as well - I'm sure it was in the back of my head somewhere.

At October 29, 2007 at 11:44 PM, Blogger claire said...

I've been wanting to try the food at Movida for ages, but always leave it to the last minute to try to book and they're ALWAYS full. This has happened to me about six times (when will I learn??), but I've got to try that dish with truffle foam, dammit! :)

Great review, by the way!

At October 30, 2007 at 8:17 AM, Blogger Jon! said...

Thanks mutemoneky. I will definately try the cecina dish on my next visit as well. Hint: try and get a seat at the bar:- it is comfortable and I am told they generally do not take bookings for the bar area, although if you specifically ask for one they will do it. You also seem to be able to get this at short notice, I did anyway. Or if you are in the area show up fairly early and try your luck. If nothing is available I believe you can be waitlisted for the bar, which has a fairly quick turnover of most patrons :-)

At June 17, 2008 at 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey great site, helpful recommendations :)
What I'm going to share next won't win me any love due to the many Frank Camorra fans. Just wanted people to know there's another side to the 'great Movida.'

I went there with a bunch of friends about 2 yrs ago. We made reservations, but at the last minute 2 people had to pull out due to an emergency.

So they shoved us onto a smaller table (which was fine) and the other table had been taken up by other patrons.

What happened next was horrible, and because of that I will never ever go back to Movida.

The waiters kept pushing us to order more food and more wine. Dumped the plates on the table when the food came. In the end we paid about 60/70 p head so it wasn't as if we skimped at all. We had tapas, wine and dessert so it wasn't like all we ordered was 2 plates.

Then another lady got sick and threw up on the side of our table and the wait staff couldn't care less and we had to wave many times before we could get our table cloth cleaned.

Then the coup de grace- as we were walking out of the restaurant the maitre'd said to us as we walked out " thanks to you people the restaurant lost money tonight."

We had a fairly large table of 8 so I don't know why we deserved such shitty treatment. Furthermore, our "empty spots" had been taken up by other paying patrons.

I emailed Frank Camorra the next day explaining and his reply ( and I kid you not) was in capital letters: " I DONT WANT YOU BACK IN MY RESTAURANT." No apology, not even an attempt to be reasonable and explain.

Apparently he'd seen our table size reduce from 10 to 8 and in doing so, instructed his wait staff to be as rude as you could possibly be. The food was tasty yes, but Frank Camorra came across to me (regrettably) as an egomanical, borish lout.

If you ever go to Movida with a large group make sure no one cancels. Or it could have been the fact that we were all Asians... because honestly I don't think Aussies would have gotten similar treatment.

I've eaten at Vue De Monde, Tetsuya's and even Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's and never once have I been subjected to the humiliation that I had to endure at Movida.


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