One of the most difficult questions you can ask a Melburnian who is passionate about food is which Movida is their favourite. The original Movida tapas bar has spawned Movida Next Door and now Movida Aqui, each with their own distinctive character, atmosphere and menu. I was a big fan of the first Movida when I lived in Melbourne, and when I was back in February this year I discovered and loved Movida Aqui as well. I liked it so much that I suggested a meal there to celebrate my Dad’s birthday two weeks ago.
The view from the outdoor terrace at Movida Aqui
It was a beautiful sunny day so Movida Aqui suited us perfectly with its big outdoor terrace overlooking the Supreme Court. You can’t book at the terrace but we were able to get a table fairly easily arriving just before 1pm. It was certainly a much easier feat than trying to get a table at Movida itself. Inside, the restaurant is fairly industrial looking with polished concrete floors and brightly coloured plastic milk crates decorating the bar area. Outside there is timber decking, great views and bright red umbrellas to shade you from the sun or rain depending on Melbourne’s tempermental weather.
Before MTV boyfriend, there was meat-and-three-veg Dad, but following a meal recently at Brindisia in London, Dad has become more adventurous and converted to tapas so we ordered a selection from the raciones and tapas section of the menu to share. There were other options on the menu besides tapas, including larger dishes from the grill, a la plancha and from the charcoal fire a la parilla. However, it was hard not to start with the bombas ($4 each), crisp bread-crumbed balls filled with soft mashed potato and flecks of chorizo. They were a tiny taste sensation and the perfect bar-snack to accompany our jug of chilled sangria ($39).
There was more potato to come in the form of cubes of crunchy patatas bravas with a deep, backpacker tan ($11) drenched in spicy bravas sauce and some wedges of meltingly soft potato and egg tortilla ($4.50 each). An iceberg salad ($14) with fennel and salad onion is a refreshing foil to the heavier dishes.
Slow cooked lamb – it looked just as amazing as it tasted
But it is in the slow cooked lamb shoulder that Frank Camorra and his team’s mastery of technique and flavour can be best found. The lamb falls easily from the bone and is slow cooked almost to a point of sweetness. If it wasn’t Dad’s birthday there would have been fights over who got to lick the bone. The only fault in the meal was the bistec of aged Angus rump ($19) which was served with parilla peppers. The meat, while not overcooked seemed tough and fairly flavourless. It was certainly lacking the wow factor of our other dishes.
We did order the boccadillo de calamares ($6.50 each), a favourite of mine from my last visit. The bocadillo featured a crusty roll, stuffed with strips of grilled calamari and topped with a zesty, creamy mayonnaise. However, our waitress forgot the order and in the end we were too full anyway so decided to forget about them. I think I am still regretting that decision as they really are the most fantastic combination.
The interior of Movida Aqui showcasing the open kitchen
Movida Aqui is a stylish, but at the same time supremely casual bar and restaurant, serving some of Melbourne’s most flavoursome and skillfully cooked food. Thanks to Movida Aqui, we now have two tapas converts in the family in the form of Mum and Dad. So, book a table at Movida and join the Spanish revolution.
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Details: Movida Aqui, Level 1, 500 Bourke street (access via Little Bourke street), Melbourne CBD 3000, Australia (Ph +61 3 9663 3038)
Damage: Pricey. Dad paid on his own birthday. That was naughty of him, but thanks Dad.