MoVida – Melbourne series

Okay, most people plan their interstate trips to do multiple things but TimmyC and I came to Melbourne (this time) to specifically eat at MoVida. TimmyC’s trendy cousin was generous enough to buy me a voucher to the MoVida group but because the other restaurants were not open yet since the New Year holidays, we booked a table for 3 at the original MoVida.Complimentary~

Warmed bread with olive oil. Always a happy surprise when a restaurant gives you delicious warmed bread for free!I loved their personalised wine glasses.
Tapa~ I love the thought that these morsels were made so well, individually portioned and reasonably priced; it didn’t matter if no one wanted to share with me, I could just order one for myself.
Yabbie special ($9.00 each). I thought this was a refreshing morsel but nothing really specifically unique. It was good to have at the beginning of the meal before the heavier, deep fried tapas arrived.
Queso quince paste cigar with whipped goats milk cheese ($4.00 each). I’m not particularly fond of goats milk products but that didn’t stop me from ordering this just to see how it would taste. I liked it so much I convinced the rest of the table to order another just to taste it. The outer quince paste cigar was surprisingly crispy and provided a nice contrasting texture to the whipped filling. The goats milk cheese wasn’t too strong but it was perfectly balanced out by the sweetness of the quince. You definitely have to try this; there were so many surprises in one mouthful.
It looks so simple and small but there was a lot of flavour in this tapa.
Flamenquin crumbed pork with jamon, thyme and mahon ($5.50 each). These were perfectly crispy and jam packed with pork. I was very tempted to order more of these, but I got too full in the end.
A delicious peek into the crispy croquette.
Fish croquette special ($4.50 each). These were very ‘fishy’ which I loved, it was a nicely seasoned filling with a crunchy non oily exterior. 
Raciones~
Carrillera De Buey slowly braised beef cheek in Perdo Ximenez on Cauliflower puree ($28.50). Oh where to begin while describing this fabulous dish. The beef was amazingly tender and pulled away effortlessly as you put a spoon through it. It had a beautiful sweet stick glaze all over which worked perfectly with the cauliflower. Don’t even get me started on that puree, it was so smooth, it was like a thick soup (and I could have easily drunk it like soup). I would order this again in a heartbeat.
This photo doesn’t do it any justice.
Patatas Bravas fried potatoes with spicy tomato and mayonnaise ($16.00). The smaller pieces were fine but I thought some of the potatoes were too big and therefore the ratio between crispy exterior to starchy fluffy filling to be way off. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting and since the rest of the meal had been so spectacular, these potatoes couldn’t compare.  Barramundi special ($27.00). The fish was soft and moist while the asparagus was cooked perfectly allowing the fresh flavours to really shine through. It was nice to have a lighter main among all the deep fried tapas and heavy meals.
Desserts~
Churros Spanish doughnuts with rich drinking chocolate ($12.50). The doughnuts were really crunchy on the outside with a fluffy texture in the centre and it was paired with what was truthfully named a ‘rich drinking chocolate’.
Flan crème caramel with pestinos ($15.00). This was so smooth and creamy, making it very easy to eat.
Pan con chocolate chocolate, bread and olive oil ice cream ($14.50). I wasn’t convinced by the description on the black board that this was the dessert for me. It wasn’t until I asked our waiter which the best dessert was; he then smirked and asked me if I was asking for the best dessert in his opinion or the most popular dessert ordered (which we rightly guessed was churros). I obviously wanted the best dessert and for something interesting against the ‘norm’, he then suggested this dessert and to ignore the very poor description on the board. What came out was fabulous. A warm soft chocolate cake encased in a crispy bread sandwich, which gave it a wonderful contrasting texture while the olive oil ice cream helped balance out the sweetness of the chocolate. As we were leaving, I told our waiter that they should really change the description because it didn’t really do the dessert justice.
I love how they have presented the ‘sandwich’ standing up on its side, it gives you a clear view of the crispy bread encasing a warm moist chocolate cake.
Check out the sexy chocolate cake sandwiched inside.
Even though we were eating on a dead line (6pm- 8pm booking) we never felt rushed and despite the restaurant was completely packed, the service and food was very prompt and the staff were very friendly and helpful. I would love to come back to try more of the menu or even the other restaurants. I loved the small tapas for individual portions at a reasonable price (take note Canberra restaurants) and that there were good variety of mains available.
The famous graffiti on Hosiser Lane which is opposite the lane way to the MoVida restaurant.
Venue: Movida
Address: 1 Hosier Lane, (off Flinders St), Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9663 3038

MoVida Bar De Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nigel no friends’ paradise

——-17/01/2013——-

At Bodega de Pintxos, parties with 8 or more people are forced to choose between a “paella party” @$45 pp or “tapas party” @ $39 pp and I happen to go to dinner with 7 other people. Oh bother, the magical number had been breached. I didn’t want to fill up on lots of rice so we opted for the tapas party with Chef’s selection of tapas and pan casero.

True, I do usually ask the opinion of the staff to help me decide between 2 (or 5) dishes but giving up on my choice entirely was a completely different matter. Let the surprises begin!

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Drinks~ not included in the ‘tapas party’

Mojito ($15.00), Fruit punch mocktail ($9.00) and Sangria ($26.00 for the jug).

The mojito tasted very very minty, I don’t know much about alcoholic beverages but I know they shouldn’t taste like you just brushed your teeth, although some people might call it refreshing, I just wouldn’t call it a mojito. The fruit punch tasted rather sour and disappointing.

No one told us that this was the Spanish version of Russian roulette. You’re supposed to say a rhyme in Spanish and everyone one shots a pepper, it could be mild or it could be very hot, there’s no way to know until you take a bite (a waitress told us this after we had a hot one). The first few we had were nice, salty, like slightly addictive green capsicums, it wasn’t until one of us got a really hot one that we all became more suspicious and wary of which pepper to take and to have a small sample before we committed to the whole thing.

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Pan casero~

Pan de ajo house bread with garlic butter pil pil. This tasted like garlic bread but better, oh so buttery and addictive.

Pan tumaca house bread with spread fresh tomato and extra virgin olive oil with a side of garlic sauce. This one by comparison wasn’t as good, it tasted like a mushy bruschetta and the garlic sauce didn’t really add to the flavour.

I couldn’t really find our food on the menu except for chorizo, but here is a break down of what we ate.

Prawns – Kudos to them for serving their food very hot (it was still bubbling!) despite being busy. They were a bit salty though.

Chorizogrilled house made spicy chorizo, red wine jus and roasted garlic sauce. It tasted like a chunky version of Chinese dried pork, if you have eaten it you’ll know what I’m talking about. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten an authentic chorizo but I know I haven’t tasted one like that before.

Slow roasted pork – the smaller pieces were more tender and soaked up the sauce really well. The chunky pieces were tough and too thick to enjoy.

Cold chicken sandwiches – a nice cold dish to cool off the tongue after those peppers. A little bit crumbly to eat because of the hard bread.

Mushrooms – I can’t really describe the taste, I didn’t know if I liked them at first but the taste grew on me.

Despite not having any say in choosing the food, they gave us ample amounts (we didn’t finish the pork or the peppers) but still left just enough space to sample some desserts (and don’t we all have a separate stomach for desserts anyway? image).

Desserts~ not included in the tapas party

Tarta al chocolate traditional chocolate cake served warm with gelato ($8.00). As promised in the description, a warm chocolate cake, nothing unique but it hit the sweet spot.

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Crema Catalana cooked cream served with burnt sugar ($8.00). From the description I knew I was ordering a creme brulee like substance. The custard had a citrus hint to it but I couldn’t get over the gritty-ness of the texture. For the first time had to leave most of my dessert in protest over the the poor texture. I should have tried the Natilla (sweet custard served with house made biscuits).

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Churros con chocolate traditional pastries served with chocolate ($8.00). Covered in a bit too much sugar for me, but it was served nice and hot with just the right amount chocolate (debatable for some, didn’t one of us try and lick the bowl clean?  image).

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Try as we might, we never did finish off those peppers, there were still so many left even after a decent effort from each of us.

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The staff were friendly although we had to consistently ask for more water and they forgot one of our desserts. I think you should ditch your friends (or go with less than 7 of them) and choose your own food. I heard their range of ‘pintxos from the kitchen’ is definitely worth a try. I didn’t absolutely love this meal but I’m keen to come back and try different things.

Venue: Bodega de Pintxos Taperia Espanola

Address: 27 Kennedy St, Kingston, ACT 2604

Phone: (02) 6295 0777

Bodega de Pintxos Taperia Espanola on Urbanspoon

Spending an afternoon at the Playground

——-10/11/2012——-

Tapas are served till 10pm at Playground Martina and Tapas bar, so after missing out the first time I made sure I was nice and early not to miss out again.

Smoked ham hock croquette, garlic mayo ($12.00). When I see the word ‘croquette’ I get really excited and I had to order these. These were really disappointing and mainly filled with mashed potato and hardly any pork, although it did have a really nice crunchy coating.

House made chocolate tart with vanilla ice-cream and caramel ($12.00). A really delicious tart with the perfect sides.

Churros with caramel and chocolate sauce ($12.00). I was looking forward to this the most, which was a shame when they came out a little under-cooked and soggy. They would have been perfect if they were cooked a little longer or a little thinner.

I loved the cute ‘glassware’ seats, the service was friendly and prompt but they don’t take bookings after 4:30pm.

Venue: Playground- Martini and Tapas bar

Address: Garema Place, Civic, ACT

Phone: (02) 6262 7171

Playground Martini and Tapas Bar on Urbanspoon

Ha Ha bar

——-04/08/2012——-

I was excited to head to the Ha Ha bar in Belconnen as it is one of the few restaurants along the street that I haven’t been to for dinner.

Entree~

Breads and dips grilled artisan breads with house made dips ($12.00) We asked them what the dips were (chilli and tomato, olives, hummus and pesto) and lucky we did because only one out of the four dips really tasted like anything. 

Crispy calamari smoked chilli aoili and fresh lemon ($14.00) Nice crispy calamari that wasn’t chewy and stringy.

Grilled Spanish chorizo with roast garlic aioli and grilled bread ($15.00) Unfortunately from this photo you can’t see that one side of the chorizo was really burnt.

Special~

Fetta in carrozzacrumbed fetta with a medley of mixed tomatoes and fresh basil ($16.00). I do love combining the flavours of cheese, tomato and basil. They have gone one better by crumbing the fetta!

Mains~

Grilled chicken salad with cous cous, beets, roast pumpkin, walnuts, onion, fetta, tomatoes and mixed leaves ($23.00). An okay salad but nothing to write home about.

12” pizzas:

Ha Ha pizza Sicilian meat balls, Italian sausage, proscuitto, roast chicken, chilli, mozzarella and olives ($23.00). Surprisingly not overly meaty, a great mix of flavours on a delicious base.

Margherita pizza tomato, mozzarella and basil ($18.00). The base really made all the difference which really brought out the simple flavours of the pizza.

Linguine with fresh local seafood, squid ink, garlic, chilli, olive oil and herbs ($27.00). This was truly a surprise when they put this down in front of me. For some reason in my head I thought I was getting squid ink pasta not squid ink mixed in with my pasta. There was a lot of chilli which almost made it unbearable to eat but there were a lot of prawns. It also didn’t look very appealing.

This is clearly not first (or any) date food. I had to wipe my lips after every bite and at the end my napkin was black. I dared not to bare my teeth at anyone while I was eating.

Even with the dim light you can see how black the dish was when I mixed it all through.

You might have noticed that we didn’t eat dessert which is very unsual, that’s because at 9:15pm ish they had only the cheese board left (1 out 4 desserts) which I thought was ridiculous considering they weren’t that busy.

I was excited to come here after a reading a review about delicious tapas and pork belly but they weren’t on the menu. The food was mediocre and the messy squid ink pasta ruined my dining experience. Maybe I’ll come back and see what brunch is like.

Venue: Ha Ha Bar

Address: 102 Emu Bank  Belconnen ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6251 6110

Ha Ha Bar on Urbanspoon

Functions at Federation

——-24/03/2012——-

We went to a beautiful wedding in March and even though I was admiring the beautiful bride, everything from her dress to her very unique bouquet down to her gorgeous shoes  the delicious food that was being offered before reception still managed to catch my eye.

Simply put- everything was deeeelicious. I loved everything from the bountiful portions to the cute bamboo serving accessories.

Calamari and rocket, vegetarian quiche, fancy looking spring rolls, really good crispy pork belly, zucchini balls, risotto balls and a beautiful croquembouche.

hip hip hooray at the Dockyard

——-28/01/2012——-

Well I could say that was my sister’s 21st birthday but as you can tell by the cake, that’s a lie. 

My sister organised her birthday at The Dockyard, a trendy bar over looking the Newcastle wharf (near the Hog’s breath that I went to previously), offering tapas and modern pub food.

A Corona Bucket- a ingenious way of serving a crowd favourite beer.

Meatballs in a spicy tomato and red capsicum sauce (6) ($10.00)

Honeysuckle pizza with chorizo, bacon, Spanish onion, mushrooms and BBQ sauce ($15.00)

Grilled Haloumi and vegetable skewers with balsamic reduction (4) ($10.00)

Lime and black pepper squid with aioli ($10.00)

Twice cooked sticky pork belly with honey and ginger soy ($10.00)


Everything was absolutely deeeeeeeelicious (although I didn’t try the haloumi) so much so that we even ordered more of everything! I like when you order a variety of things and nothing is disappointing. 

My sister especially chose this cute custom made star shaped cake from Bobbie’s cakes and I didn’t think there would be enough but I got to take some extra home with me and that’s all that matters. 

I took a lot of photos with my impatient keen bean hands and only one shot was not blurry, but it doesn’t really do it much justice (sorry about that). I usually peel off the “pretty” icing layer on decorated cakes because it’s usually too marzipan-esque or too sweet but this one was perfect and I ate the whole thing (of my slice not the whole cake!).

This was a delicious dense moist chocolate mud cake with a chocolate ganache that wasn’t another overpowering sweet cake where you have to skull a gallon of milk per bite- a nice sweet ending to a delicious meal.

Even though there were a lot of people, we were not forgotten by the staff at the Dockyard. Drinks and amazing food were at reasonable prices and it’s at a great location. You can’t go wrong coming here for a meal or hosting your next casual function. 

Venue: The Dockyard

Address: No. 13/1 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle NSW 2300

Websitehttp://www.thedockyard.com.au/

Phone: (02) 4915 6558

 Cakehttp://www.bobbiescakes.com 

Dockyard on Urbanspoon

Siren bar and restaurant

——-21/10/2011——-

I’ll travel anywhere for food, so when my friend asked where we were going for dinner, I suggested Siren, the new hot spot out in Gungahlin. The only booking I could get for a Friday night for four people was at 8:30pm (admittedly I didn’t ring until Friday afternoon).

With the tiled floor and all the hustle and bustle it was very noisy.

Love the wine glasses.

The tapas were easy to choose, the only hard part was to cull the list down to three choices, but looking over the mains I was torn between the prawn linguine or field mushrooms. The next table over just happened to be getting their meals where both of my choices were being served. I leaned over- “sorry I never do this, but how is your pasta?”, she replied that it was nice but not many prawns though, maybe only around 4. I looked over to her friend’s dish, ‘I’m not going to get full off that’ I thought while staring at two mushrooms piled on top of each other with a bit of feta sitting in the middle of a huge plate. Linguine it is then!

Tapas

Braised Pork Belly with Pear puree ($14.00) Delicious and crispy, the pork was complimented very well by the pear puree- yum!

Grilled haloumi cheese with tomato salsa ($10.50) Nothing too special about this dish but the haloumi wasn’t too salty.

Chefs selection of dips with crusty bread ($10.00) I know this is just bread and dips but it was so good! The bread was crispy and soft at the same time and the dips were very tasty!

Mains

PizzaOur pizzas are prepared with homemade pizza bases and fresh  ingredients. We also offer a gluten free base option”

Fungi pizza ($19.00) I thought it was odd that they cut pizza this way.It was disappointing as there was more avocado on the pizza than mushrooms.

Garlic chili prawn linguine ($21.90)- I had a lot more prawns (10) than the other girl which is good because the linguine was so hot I could only eat two mouthfuls of pasta.

Penne with chorizo ($17.90) How odd to have linguine mixed through the penne? This pasta wasn’t particularly good especially after just having such exquisite tapas.

While waiting for our mains, my friends and I spotted a girl get what appeared to be a ‘hot chocolate’ where it was served on a long chocolate decorated plate with a glass of hot milk on one side and a paddle pop stick inserted into a chocolate chunk on the other. How cute!

At 10:20pm while our plates were being collected, we asked to see the dessert menu, the waitress said she’ll see if the kitchen was still open but when she came back she informed us “sorry the kitchen is now closed, but they only had one dessert left anyway”. I was shocked! After seeing all the gorgeous little toffee hats on every one’s dessert on the surrounding tables, I promised my stomach that I’d get something sweet to end on. That’s fine I thought, we’ll get those cute hot chocolates I saw on the adjacent table. What came though were just ordinary hot chocolates in a glass ($3.00).

But I’m guessing what everyone else got was:

Siren hot chocolateDark, milk and white spoons –Hot steamed milk served with our playful chocolate spoon – this is not a drink it is an EVENT ($6.50)

After such a wonderful start with delicious tapas, the mains by comparison were very disappointing. I would come again just for the tapas and maybe also be lucky enough to get a dessert next time?

     Tapas I’d like to try next time: Spicy chicken wings served with vodka lime sauce, BBQ pork ribs served with Sirens BBQ sauce & potato fondant or salt and lemon pepper calamari served with roma tomato salsa.

Venue: Siren bar and restaurant

Address: Corner of Anthony Rolfe Avenue and Gozzard Street, Gungahlin, ACT 2912

Phone: (02) 6162 0377

Entertainment book: Yes it has recently been added on the gold card!

Website: http://www.sirenbar.com.au/

Siren Bar and restaurant on Urbanspoon