Everyone who knows Melbourne knows Hosier Lane, a scruffy cobblestone laneway lined with graffiti-tattooed buildings. The most famous among them is MoVida, legendary tapas bar and institution of Melbourne city dining.
We came straight from Queen Victoria Market without a dinner reservation. We waited for a table over a drink or two at the surprisingly empty bar next door, called Misty.
45 minutes later, we were right in the action, perched on stools at the bar in MoVida, where the staff poured our drinks and took our food orders, cheerfully answering our questions about the menu. It was fun to peek at the dishes being delivered to our fellow barflies, and they did the same when our food arrived.
“What is THAT dish?” the guy to my left asked wistfully when our rabbit special arrived. He had his revenge a short time later when we admired HIS next dish, which turned out to be “Cecina”, air-dried wagyu with truffle foam and a lusciously gooey poached organic egg – we could smell the truffle from where we sat. Not long afterwards, on our other side, the arrival of the house cold smoked Spanish mackerel, a showstopper that had everyone shamelessly looking. Dish envy was rampant at the bar.
If you read my previous Melbourne post, you’ll recall that we ate chicken wings and gelato at Queen Victoria Market before going to MoVida. That’s not a recommended pre-dinner activity, of course, but probably part of the reason we weren’t fazed at the prospect of a 45-minute wait. That, and we were on holiday and feeling pretty relaxed – we had already forgotten what day of the week it was. We each chose a small plate (‘tapa’ on the menu) and a larger plate (‘raciones’), and shared them. The small plates were like large amuse-bouches and not really designed for sharing, but we carved them up anyway.
First, Pollo Escabache el Miguel, a creamy spiced chicken mix served between two thin slices of crispbread. Even without sharing, this wouldn’t have been the easiest thing to eat, but we didn’t leave a scrap behind.
Next, Bocadillo de Anguila – an umami sandwich of melt-in-the-mouth brik pastry with smoked eel, onion and jamon (AU$3.50), a fragile construction that blew us away with intensely big flavours.
Then, the first of the larger plates – our old tapas favourite, mushrooms cooked with sherry. MoVida’s version is a heaped bowl of Portobello mushrooms, wrinkled and black from oven-roasting, finished with sherry vinegar, juicy and piquant.
Our final dish was one of the specials of the day, rabbit wrapped in pancetta, served with braised Brussels sprouts. The rolls of rabbit were simply beautiful – very fine, succulent white meat swaddled neatly with salty streaky pancetta.
MoVida exuded confidence and sophistication, the characteristics of a mature, accomplished establishment that knows exactly what it’s doing. We enjoyed every bite, but it was the energy and atmosphere at MoVida that really made it memorable – a refined, yet easy-going dining experience.
About this series
In December 2013, my partner Jac and I went on holiday – Melbourne (3 nights), then 3 nights in Launceston (Jac, to stay with a friend) and King Island (me, for a photographic safari with a couple of friends), and finally, Hobart, where we spent Christmas (6 nights). This trip was not sponsored in any way.
The complete set of Melbourne posts
Not bad for three nights’ ‘work’, eh? Hope you’ve enjoyed the series.
- Cumulus Inc, Melbourne
- Queen Victoria Wednesday Night Market, Melbourne
- MoVida, Melbourne – this post
- Orient East, Melbourne
- LuxBite, South Yarra
- China Red, Chinatown
- N2 Extreme Gelato, Fitzroy
- Cafe Gaia, South Yarra
- Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio, South Yarra
- Steer Bar & Grill, South Yarra
- Brunetti at Myer Melbourne and Lygon Street, Carlton
For a preview of some of the stories to come, see Holiday sneak peek. There’s a lot more to come.