MoVida, Melbourne

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.

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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.

A seat at the bar provides the most interactive dining experience. A seat at the bar provides the most interactive dining experience.

Bread with olive oilOur only (minor) gripe was being offered bread with olive oil, which we accepted, not realising it wasn’t complimentary (it wasn’t listed on the menu). We weren’t unhappy to pay a couple of bucks for bread – but would’ve preferred it not to be a surprise inclusion on the bill.

Cosmopolitan cocktailJac’s Cosmopolitan cocktail.

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.

Pollo escabache el Miguel - Spiced chicken escabache tapa on crisp crouton (AU4.50) Pollo escabache el Miguel – Spiced chicken escabache tapa on crisp crouton (AU4.50).

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.

Bocadillo de Anguila - melt-in-the-mouth brik pastry sandwich of smoked eel, onion and jamon (AU$3.50) Bocadillo de Anguila – brik pastry sandwich of smoked eel, onion and jamon (AU$3.50).

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.

Setas asadas con jerez - Oven-roasted Portobello mushrooms finished with sherry vinegar (AU$13) Setas asadas con jerez – Oven-roasted Portobello mushrooms finished with sherry vinegar (AU$13).

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.

Special of the day - rabbit wrapped in pancetta with braised Brussels sprouts Special of the day – rabbit wrapped in pancetta with braised Brussels sprouts.

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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.

DSCF3147It’s worth a walk through Hosier Lane during daytime to see the urban art in all its vivid glory.

Laneway art

Laneway art


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MoVida
1 Hosier Lane, (off Flinders St) Melbourne VIC 3000
Telephone: (03) 9663 3038
Daily 12pm to late
See other MoVida locations, including Sydney

MoVida Bar de Tapas on Urbanspoon

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.

For a preview of some of the stories to come, see Holiday sneak peek. There’s a lot more to come.

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  • Helen (grabyourfork)

    You expect the sneaky bread trick in Spain but not in Australia. That aside, MoVida is always a winner.

    • Helen, I’ll have to take your word for it (re: sneaky bread trick in Spain :)). It was a minor thing – just a bit annoying at the end. Didn’t negatively affect the whole experience. We’d go back in a heartbeat.

  • I love MoVida – it’s a little on the pricey side, but the quality and flavours of the food is just incredible.