Thursday, February 7, 2013

MoVida Sydney: Thanks for moving up

On various Melbourne visits in the past I’ve attempted to visit both MoVida in iconic, graffiti-ed Hosier Lane and MoVida Next Door multiple times – my walk-in attempts unsuccessful every time.

But then chef and owner Frank Camorra decided to move up to Sydney and bring us our very own MoVida, where bookings are available and walk-in seats for two at the bar were no issue on an early Tuesday evening.

Complimentary bread and olive oil from MoVida Sydney, Holt Street, Surry Hills
Seated at the bar, I was somewhat incredulous to be finally able to sample MoVida's menu littered with so many signature tapas. Complimentary house-made bread arrived with olive oil once we had ordered; the  bread quite dense but the salt sprinkled crust something else altogether – dark, and rustically thick and crunchy.

My first visit to MoVida also coincided with my first (and second) glass of sherry – a Spanish fortified wine that’s particularly dry in its non-dessert varieties but with some very interesting flavour notes.

I found the Delgado Zuleta ‘La Goya’ Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda to be quite acidic while the Sanchez Romate Marismeno Fino Jerez was closer to a dry white wine with interesting depth and a lick of fortification at the end.

Anchoa – artisan Cantabrian anchovy with smoked tomato sorbet
Sherry was a fantastic partner to some of the flavour-packed tapas, starting with the anchoa – a single Cantabrian anchovy on a thin crisp, topped with baby capers and a quenelle of smoked tomato sorbet that took me right back to Barcelona and the tomato bread I had everywhere.

The anchovy with capers were quite salty so the waiter’s advice to spread the sorbet across the length of the small salted fish was certainly valuable.

Bocata de buey – air baguette, Rost Biff wagyu, Tocino de Cielo, pickled and black garlic
The beef "baguette" incited excitement, curiosity and involuntary salivation; it’s unlike anything I've tried before and utterly fun. Even at $8.50 a pop, I wanted more.

A piece of pink ‘Rost Biff’ wagyu beef was wrapped loosely around a long football shaped "baguette" that was completely hollow, essentially crisp bread.

The combination of the impossibly tender beef and crisp bread held together spectacularly: the beef didn't come away as a whole piece as chewy meat would; the bread didn't shatter into a million pieces upon bite. Meanwhile, the slightly sweet pickled garlic made beautiful, harmonious sense with the buttery beef.

Buñuelos de bacalao – salt cod fritters with Basque pil pil sauce
From the larger-sized racion section of the menu, the bacalao salt cod fritters were hot, golden balls of salted cod in a traditional olive oil based pil pil sauce.

Surprisingly subtle in both creaminess and saltiness, for me, the deep fried chilli slice garnishes completed each mouthful with a very restrained chilli kick.

Ensalada de tomates – heirloom tomato salad with avocado, pickled cauliflower
and tempura white anchovies
A vegetable side was a must as we were ordering meat from the parrilla grill part of the menu. While the temptation was to order and experience MoVida’s version of classic patatas bravas, I thought I’d go the healthier route with the tomato salad. Which came with tempura battered anchovies.

Pureed avocado played second fiddle to a colourful array of small heirloom tomatoes, while the pickled cauliflower was the perfect zingy lift to the not-so-salty anchovy which, on their own, had an air of 'fish and chips'.

Costillas – spicy pork ribs on charcoal
The pork ribs arrived a good while after we had polished off the salad, leaving us basically with a pile of meat and bones and no vegetable side as intended. Nonetheless, we dug into the rather pretty plate of smoky, dry rubbed ribs in the only way that seemed sensible: with our fingers.

Impressively tender, though not to the point where meat falls off the bone and barely resembles meat any longer, the spice rub delivered all the flavour in the ribs and some fairly serious heat.

The rose tinted Sanchez Romate ‘Don Jose’ Oloroso Jerez sherry was a surprisingly fitting match: its slightly sweet, fortified end notes just divine, holding up against the spice.

Flan – crème caramel served with Pestinos
There was definitely space for dessert on this occasion and there were plenty of tempters, including a cheese option.

The flan was a perfectly wobbly and creamy crème caramel (or crema Catalana more correctly) with a pool of caramel sauce. The cinnamon sugar coated pestinos biscuits added sweetness and texture to the well-made custard.

Tarta Santiago – almond fondant with fig leaf ice cream
Less common around these traps was the traditional tarta Santiago; a flourless cake of almond meal and eggs adorned with icing sugar stencilling out the motif of the Cross of Santiago.

The warm, barely cooked innards of the fondant were pure comfort and not overly sweet, cosying up nicely with the fig leaf ice cream which was decidedly leafy and furry in flavour, which is how my palate seems to perceive the taste of figs.

The bar at MoVida
At the end of the night, with a MoVida dining experience in my pocket, I was a happy little camper – although that could have been the sherry's contribution too.

While not all the dishes were mind-blowing like the bocata de buey, the overall experience was excellent with a buzzy atmosphere that just makes you want to stay and service that's mostly warm and enthusiastic (particularly with regard to my inexperience with sherry).

The move up to Sydney seems to fit MoVida and I impeccably.

MoVida Sydney on Urbanspoon


billy@a table for two said...

I love how you, helen and I totally ordered different dishes from our different visits. I too found the anchoa tad salty, compared to the one i had in melbourne. Didn't order the air baguette, now I regret didn't listen to your advice!

john | heneedsfood said...

I recently had dinner here with a bunch of people and all of came to the conclusion that it was good but overhyped. I doubt I'll be rushing back, unless of course it's for the rabbit dish.

chocolatesuze said...

mm those ribs look delicious!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

We enjoyed our meals but there were a few missteps with service and some of the dishes were better than others when we went :) And sadly, we didn't have sherry so perhaps that played a contributing factor :P

Sherrie Huang said...

Been wanting to dine here for a while so I hope it lives up to the hype!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

ooh that wagyu baguette sounds interesting! i had the anchoa when i was in melb and i loved the tomato sorbet :) still need to check out the syd venue

Mr C @ The Food Diary said...

I was following Movida and visited it right on the first weekend - looks like they've added a few delicious looking stuff to the menu since!

Shanshan Lam said...

That baguette looks really interesting, can't wait for me to check this out so I can compare it to Melbourne myself!

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

I had an amazing experience when Movida was shy of being opened for 2 months. It feels like we had totally different meals. Good to see the menu changing according to produce.

Gourmet Getaways said...

WOW! What a wonderful meal, I want everything you had, it all looks amazing! I will have to add it to my ever increasing wish list :)

Tina said...

Hi billy - I think that's one of the reasons I'm so keen to return - there's so much on the menu I still want to try!

Hi John - There is a fair bit of hype by it was rather justified by by experience. Will look out for the rabbit dish next time :)

Hi suze - They were pretty good..!

Hi Lorraine - Yes, the sherry and service need to be spot on! ;)

Hi Sherrie - I was hanging out to visit it for ages too :)

Hi Vivian - The wagyu air baguette was seriously amazing!

Hi Mr C - There's so many tempters on the menu, aren't there?!

Hi Shan Shan - Indeed, it makes me even more keen to try the Melbourne outlets next time I'm down there.

Hi Tina - Sounds like a lot of different experiences from different people - not a bad thing...

Hi Gourmet Getaways - It was one of the best dinners out I've had in a while :)

Sara - Belly Rumbles said...

Recently dined here with some friends and I thought it was a bit like that over hyped movie, I was left wandering what everyone was going on about. Saying that, we had an amazing rabbit dish and I fell in love with the Tarta Santiago, that was just a truly fantastic dessert. This is from a cheese over dessert girl :)


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