A very well-timed sale is enough to see me flying down to Melbourne for a weekend of eating, drinking and shopping. It’s my 3rd trip to Melbourne, but it’s also the first time I’ve had a chance to actually stay for more than 2 days and not be consumed by thoughts of making my next flight or work!
I’m traveling with my old buddies Astroboy and Rin and our attitude towards making actual plans is rather blasé, so it’s rather by chance that we find ourselves peckish just as we’re in the Movida vicinity. It’s only 5.30pm when we arrive but we’ve managed to nab the last table and a round of drinks as we start to dissect the menu.
There’s something tantalising about a Tapas menu. It’s still early in the day and we’re more interested in snacking than having a full meal, but the size of the dishes lets us still go crazy with our choices. The specials board is written up above the bar entirely in Spanish, requiring a quick run through with our waiter but the food comes out fast and furious once we’ve finally decided.
Astroboy has had her eye on the Iberico ever since eying it on the menu, Jamon is her fatal weakness when it comes to a menu and she’s absolutely incapable of resisting its pull. The Iberico arrives in millimeter thin strips layered on a large plate glistening lightly, it’s buttery soft with the strips easily pulling apart to the touch and for 5 minute there’s only silence as the plate is steadily demolished.
My Spanish is non-existent but when our waiter explains that Boquerones is made up of anchovies and heirloom tomatoes sitting on a crunchy base, I’m sold on the concept. I make the mistake of trying to slice one in two and only manage to paint my shirt with a fresh squirt of tomato juice! One shot it is.
AMAZING. The sweetness of the heirloom tomatoes is almost overwhelming before the saltiness of the anchovies kicks in, and is all finished off by the crunch of the base. It’s a one bite wonder that has me wishing the quality of tomatoes in Sydney was close to anywhere this good. We’re so enamored that we order seconds and end up playing Scissors Paper Rock to determine who wins the last bite (Damn you Astroboy).
Rin’s gravitated towards the Bomba, the potato chorizo combination is too hard for her to resist. The spicy sauce is oozing enticingly down the size of our Potato Bombs when they arrive and although they’re a little denser than I would prefer, they’re a spicy bite of fried goodness which are surprisingly filling.
I’m not too sure what to make of the Empanadilla when they arrive at the table. After the visual pow of our previous dishes they’re looking a little lackluster and Plain Jane on the plate. Things cannot be anymore different once I’ve taken my first bite of the flaky pastry and experience the warming chicken filling. It’s like having a mini chicken puff pie in the palm of my hand!
My Scallop obsession is nowhere as crazy as Squishies is but I’m pretty close! I hear little apart from the word Scallops in the description given to us by the waiter but immediately bookmark it as my personal choice. The scallops have been seared and each sit in a little pool of cheesy sauce, all topped with a sprinkling of powdered bacon. It’s a brilliant flavour combination let down by the overcooked Scallops that makes the overall dish a little tough and sadly not one of my favourites.
The Mussels are a logical last choice, but surprisingly it’s not the mussels themselves but the broth they’re sitting in that makes it one of my favourite dishes. The vinegar and lime as well a generous handful of salt has created a lightly green tinted earthy broth with salty overtones that I can’t stop myself from drinking. In the end I surrender to the inevitable and mop it all up with the leftover bread!
My girls are trashed on a single drink each and by the time we stumble out at 7pm the restaurant is packed out with punters eagerly eying our soon to be empty table. Service is busy but attentive, with staff popping by diligently picking up empty plates and asking if we’re up for just one more dish.
Eating at Movida Next Door makes me wish that Sydney had more casual Tapas style dining options closer in the CBD. That said, it’s not a cheap stopover and between us we easily drop $50 each once drinks are calculated into the bill, but there’s a sense of freedom that comes with being able to simply stop by and be assured of great food, drinks and atmosphere without feeling an obligation to order a main and dessert!
MoVida Next Door
Cnr Flinders Street and Hosier Lane,
Ph: (03) 9663 3038
Tue-Thurs 5pm-late, Fri & Sat 12-12 (all day dining), Sun 2pm-9pm (all day dining). Selected lunchtime reservations available upon request. Closed Mon.