We were escorted immediately upon entry to stools at the bar by an affable bloke called Hershy who would ultimately take care of our wild and wanton eating and drinking needs for the whole of the afternoon. As usual, this visit was not going to be a quick dine and dash experience, we planned to get stuck into the short yet interesting menu and the intriguing wine list.
What first caught my eye was the 961 beer ($9) in the bar refrigerator. This craft beer hails from the only microbrewery in Lebanon which is quite a fair distance from the Iberian peninsula but it is a special beverage that you can not find in many places in Australia. This hydration and distraction gave us time to fully inspect the menus and decide to begin with Pimientos de Queensland of the Patron variety ($16) and a bottle of Flor de Crasto 2010 Douro ($43) which was a bold start and equally adventurous since it was very early in the afternoon. Don't be fooled that since these green peppers are sourced from Queensland, that they don't pack a punch. The smaller the pepper, the more concentrated the heat and the more of the fine Douro you ultimately skull.
Chorizo Pincho ($10) a Pintxo but presented on a skewer, followed. A simple and strong taste and overall good chorizo. The overarching flavour complimented the Douro and the sweet and mild chilies that accompanied the chorizo. To polish of the bottle of wine we tried the croquetas ($4/each) which were not only soft and warm but cleansed the palate in anticipation of the next bottle of wine.
Vadio Bairrada D.O.C. 2007 ($59) was the next bottle to be sacrificed. Bairrada is a Portuguese wine region located in the Beira province. The region has Portugal's highest wine classification as a Denominação de Origem Controlada - thus the D.O.C. classification. Another order of Chorizo Pincho and two additional croquetas were ordered before enjoying this earthy wine with the special duck ($32) and pork ($18) which matched well with the wine. My initial apprehensions of matching the delicate duck with the earthy wine were silly and everything worked well. It certainly gave us cause to sit, relax and enjoy pleasant conversation whilst the masses wandered past on Little Collins Street. I was pleased that I was not one of the herd on this relaxing and sunny afternoon.
There are a few lounges bordering the perimeter of the restaurant which would be useful not only for a quick nap after knocking back a few bottles of red at the bar, but to enjoy cocktails or sangria at. The decorations and art give off the vibe of a place that you would find on the Iberian peninsula and although the aficionados would complain that tapas that you would find in Portugal or Spain would be much cheaper, and no doubt point you in the direction of Movida should you want to pay higher prices, I found what you eat and drink to be both reasonably priced and tasty compared to other alternatives in Melbourne. There are only a few places that I have found where you want to build your food experience around the wine but also in the end wasn't concerned that the bill would be out of control because of an afternoon of excess. In fact I was not only pleasantly surprised to pay my share and thought it was good value for money despite being a bit under the influence of said good wine as I walked out.
37 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
My Rating: 14.75/20
Value For Money: 4/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
At the time of this post, 91% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like Bar Lourinhã.