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|
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|
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|
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|
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
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|
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|
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|
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|
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.