Here is the main reason you should spend your one night of Melbourne consumption here:
Paella de Marisco ($65 for Grande)
This was exemplary — the standard to which other paellas aspire. Lush with clams, calamari, king prawns, firm chunks of fish, and goodly rich saffron rice, with an obligatory layer of gorgeous crust at the base of the pan. Size-wise this was huge so, as good as it is, I wouldn’t expect you could finish if you were only two people (‘grande’ is recommended for groups of 2-4). Be warned that this will ruin you for all other paellas: I’ll definitely never be able look at the ‘big pan’ market versions the same way again.
I also really liked:
Carillera de buey ($22.50)
An eat-with-a-fork slowly braised beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez, the intensity of which was very nicely complemented by the smooth cauliflower puree (an interesting alternative to the usual potato). There’s nothing particularly original about this dish (I’ve seen variations of it everywhere, and even featured one on my maze Melbourne review), but I keep ordering it anyway because this is the epitome of comfort food: a tender hunk of meat with a side o’ mash.
This was a special on the night:
The board had a better description I failed to take down so you’ll have to contend with ‘squid stuffed with crab, and I believe, bits of potato’. I do remember, however, that it tasted fantastic. Both the squid and crab were very fresh and had great, juicy resistance. There were also some good, varying textures in the stuffing.
I find it difficult to have tapas without ordering a croquette of some variety:
Bomba ($4.50 each)
Hurried photograph, unfortunately, because there’s nothing worse than a cold croquette! This was textbook excellent: slim, crispy exterior and a filling of potato embedded with cheerfully spicy chunks of chorizo.
And the things that are not as they seem:
Pincho de tortilla ($4.80)
Apologies for the other bad photograph of the night. Perhaps it was the sheer surprise of receiving this under the description ‘organic egg and spinach tortilla with manchego’. It was more like an egg and spinach cake and, texturally, was very reminiscent of Japanese tamago. Good value going by the size but it was perhaps a bit bland. A touch of Tabasco really (if blasphemously) gave it some kick.
These are clearly mushrooms, as written on the menu (mushrooms cooked on the plancha, finished with sherry vinegar), but come under the ‘not as they seem’ category because they were freakishly the best mushrooms we ever had (and I was raised in a fungus-loving family). They were incredible: small but toothsome and caused tiny explosions of flavour in the mouth. We even considered ordering another plateful. Not your typical side dish.
Churros con chocolate ($12.50)
The texture of the churros was fabulous, not at all like some fast-food versions I could mention. These were much thicker and softer (properly doughnut-y) but still crispy. The chocolate was deceptively simple in description ('drinking chocolate’): it was gloriously dense and laced with orange.
Homemade ice creams with fig bread. Portions were perhaps a bit small (especially when shared between four!) but these were seriously rich and punchy scoops of sticky caramel, ginger, and grapefruit, the last being more of a sorbet. Also, don’t expect the fig bread to be, well, bread-like: it’s a very chewy nougat-esque slice best nibbled in small doses.
The best thing about recommending Movida Aqui? Consistency (reduces the fear of bad-meal backlash). I’ve personally eaten there on three occasions with three different groups at three different times over the past (I want to say three) six months, and a great time was had by all.
Tip: Order the paella (you'll want to) even before you've made your other selections as there's a significant waiting time on the dish!
Don't think going up the one flight of stairs to get there will even dent the quantity of calories that will be consumed once you get inside.
Don’t forget that you can still sign up for my Heston Blumenthal book giveaway (including The Fat Duck cookbook) in the post below (open until 12/12/2011). Exclusive to this blog, no effort required, and not many entries yet so you’re in with a huge chance!
Where do you recommend people go if they’ve only got one night in town?