HOT: MoVida Aqui, Level 1, 500 Bourke St, Melbourne

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

MoVida Aqui is the recently opened, expanded version of Frank Camorra’s fabulous Spanish eatery, MoVida Bar de Tapas. While it’s virtually impossible to get a booking at the original MoVida these days, and there are two timed sittings in the evenings, things at MoVida Aqui are much more relaxed. The space is airy and light due to the row of louvres opening out onto an open courtyard, and while it’s still advisable to book ahead they don’t kick you out after your two hour allotment.

In fact, there is plenty to love at MoVida Aqui and I’d be happy never to put myself on a waitlist for MoVida again.

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

The space is lofty and not overtly Spanish, and I particularly liked the use of milk crates as a lighting feature over the bar and the uninterrupted view of the elegant camera of the Supreme Court. If you sit at the high tables you can watch the bustling team of a dozen chefs go about their business and salivate at the dishes presented on the counter. The service is attentive, friendly and efficient, with regular top ups of water, a steady stream of food and our request for more bread met promptly.

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

The modern tapas is very similar in execution and price to the original restaurant and I could have happily eaten 99% of the menu. We decided to start with individual serves of Cantabrian anchoa with a dollop of smoked tomato sorbet ($4.50) and sardines. The icy cold sorbet tempered the saltiness of the anchovies and capers perfectly and it was a taste sensation.

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

Next up was fleshy sardines with tomato ($4) and a bowl of Asadillo, a sunny mix of marinated roast capsicum and tomato in Moorish spices ($12) which was perfect draped over a slice of crusty bread with the juices running down your fingers.

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

Then a terracotta ramekin of Gambas sizzling in Basque apple cider ($17.50). This was a little too alcoholic for my liking but the sauce was delicious dipped with bread.

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

We tried one dish from the long list of specials – Conejo, rabbit breast rolled in jamon and served with clams and white cannellini beans ($20.50). The meat was just barely cooked and the flavours were quite delicate. Personally I preferred the more robust Arroz al Horno ($38), a huge paella pan of rice, artichokes, off-the-bone duck, spicy sausage and chickpeas. Don’t let the Grande portion size (serves 2-4 people) deceive you – I challenge two people to eat that much rice with chickpeas and still have room for other food. Note that MoVida doesn’t offer any rice dishes (the kitchen is too small) so yet another reason to visit MoVida Aqui instead.

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

I was bursting from the seams so with great regret had to decline dessert. My friends shared a flan con pestinos ($11), a solid and smooth creme caramel served with highly spiced sherry pastries.

Movida Aqui 500 Bourke St Melbourne

We were all absolutely stuffed by the end of the delicious meal and with two Moritz lagers ($8 each) amazingly the bill came to only $35 a head. In the ultimate praise, my friends from Sydney declared the experience outstanding and I was suitably dazzled by the food and setting to want to come back again and again.

John Lethlean at The AustralianMelbourne Gastronome and Deck of Secrets give it their thumbs up too. For other great Spanish-inspired food, try Markov Place.

MoVida Aqui and Terraza on Urbanspoon

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9 thoughts on “HOT: MoVida Aqui, Level 1, 500 Bourke St, Melbourne

  1. I totally know what you mean, I waited three months (!) for my reservation at Movida, and then had dinner a week later at Movida Next Door that was just as good. Just got back into Melbourne, so must give Movida Aqui a try very very soon – how far in advance should a booking be made? I actually really want to go today haha…

    • Hi Vee

      I think I made a booking a week or two in advance at MoVida Aqui, and the best thing was I could book for any time, not just for the set sitting times of 6/630 and 8/830. It certainly won’t take three months. I suspect that if you’re happy sitting at the bar and there’s only two or three of you, you could probably get away with not booking at all.

      I am already dreaming about trying out the rest of the menu at MoVida Aqui. My experience there was simply excellent.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  2. Looks like you had a great meal! I enjoyed our meal at Aqui but would have preferred if we could have ordered what we wanted rather than having to have the set menu. I think that when I go back I will make sure it is in a group of less than 6 so we can order at will – better value as well!

    Am very keen to try the flan con pestinos, I almost ordered it but settled on chocolate mousse instead…
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Isthmus of Kra: not your standard Thai =-.

    • Hi Emily

      I didn’t realise that you had to order a set meny for 6 or more people, that’s a good tip. The menu at MoVida Aqui is so comprehensive that I’d rather pick my own dishes.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  3. Hot!

    My boyfriend and I rocked up to MoVida Aqui not long ago having not made a booking and they were able to sit us at a table immediately. Of course, the fact that we were there pretty early (around 5ish) helped too :)

  4. Had a great meal including paella which you can’t get at the other Movida’s. Was done very nicely too although the wait was a little long (longer than it takes to cook). The wonderful anchoa kept me very happy as usual!

    • Hi Photoj

      Sounds like you had the perfect MoVida meal – both the anchoa and the rice dish I had on my visit were the highlights. Although next time I’m definitely saving room for dessert.

      Jetsetting Joyce

  5. Was going over a lot of food blogs trying to get a clearer idea of what makes people passionate about a restaurant and Frank Camorra and Movida were always at the top of people’s mind here in Australia.

    It’s like the ‘old’ and ‘modern’ spanish cuisine is in his ‘blood’ and in ‘all his senses’ from being born and raised in his initial years in Spain.

    Many chefs have gone and studied cooking in Spain, but still there is something missing. And yet Movida has been able to capture the soul of spanish food for Australians.

    Wondering what could it be and if an Aussie born chef can produce another Movida.

  6. Pingback: HOT: Bomba Tapas Bar and Rooftop, 103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne | LocalHero

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