MoVida bar de Tapas is probably one of Melbourne's most famous Spanish tapas restaurants, without good reason too. It's not only a famous restaurant, but also located on a very famous laneway in Melbourne, Hosier Lane. Now I'm not sure which became famous first, the cobble stone graffiti laneway or the restaurant. Either way, both the laneway and the restaurant are definitely worth a visit for anyone in Melbourne for the first time.
I first heard of MoVida from friends who absolutely love the food and I didn't get a chance to visit when I went to Melbourne the first time round several years ago. Back in October this year when I paid Melbourne a second visit, it was a must-eat place and my friends and I managed to get a table on our first night in Melbourne city. It was a very crowded and dimly lit restaurant and the funky music wasn't overly loud, which didn't make having conversations too difficult.
They had a fairly extensive drinks menu but we were certainly more interested in the food! Naturally, tapas food is all about sharing. We ordered a mix of bite-sized tapa (snack) dishes as well as Raciones (portion). We were glad that all the names of the dishes had an English explaination to it. After coming to terms with all the rather difficult to pronouce words, we made our selection of dishes with the waitress.
As always, after we made our orders, we were presented with some bread & olive oil for the table. It was fresh and warm, great to start off a chilly night in Melbourne.
The first dish of the night was Croqueta – Morcilla Croqueta with Apple ($3.50 each). It was basically black pudding croquettes on a dash of apple puree. Crunchy on the outside & soft on the inside. We didn't really realise it was black pudding until after we had a bite and I was quite oblivious to what black pudding was until it was explained to me after. Definitely a dish to try.
Next up was another tapa dish, Caballa Ahumado - House Cold Smoked Spanish Mackerel with Pine Nut Gazpacho Sorbet ($6.00). This was definitely one of my favourites of the night. It was an intricate dish and with some drama to it. When the lids were lifted, smoke was pouring out of the bowl making it all the more interesting. I have never tried cold smoked mackerel before so it was certainly very interesting, especially with sorbet.
Bistec Tartar De Wagyu - Spicy Steak Tartare of Raw, Grass-fed Wagyu Beef ($18.50) is probably their signature dish. People (or at least people I know) seem to raved about and it's the dish that people seem to love to come back to. I have never really been a fan of steak tartare but my friends were very insistent on how amazing it is so naturally I tried it and they weren't wrong, it's definitely an excellent dish, full of flavour. Putting the crunchy biscuit/bread together with the tartare was just a great combination. I can see why people come back and re-order this dish.
You can't really go pass ordering a paella in a Spanish restaurant, so we decided to check out the Paella De Marisco - Fresh Seafood Rice ($28.50). It wasn't my most memorable dish but it was nice nonetheless.
By this point of the night we were pretty close to being full and we had a major dish coming up. The Cordero Al Chilidron - slow cooked Flinders Island lamb neck in Paprika & Fino Sauce ($18.50). The meat was soft & tender, falling off the bone. Combined with the sauce it was a delicious dish.
The last savoury dish of the night was a heavy serving of vegie :) Esparragos Con Salsa Romesco - Baked asparagus with Romesco Sauce ($13.50). Tastiest asparagus I've had.
Despite our fullness, we couldn't at least order a dessert to share. Flan Con Pestiños - Crème Caramel served with Spicy Sherry Pastries($12). While I've never really been a sweets kind of person, it was a nice way to finish the night.
I wouldn't hesitate to come back to MoVida the next time I'm in Melbourne or perhaps try one of it's many branches in Melbourne. It was a great night night with friends and given how busy the place gets I'd definitely recommend booking ahead of time.