A room with high ceilings where the bar is the focal point makes good use of space and maximises the amount of diners that can enjoy the hospitality of the restaurant at any given time. This also means during the busy times that you may have to share a high table with others, but that is all part of the fun.
Glasses of Moritz lager ($8) and sangria ($10) were ordered and we would remain predictable throughout the rest of the evening and just keep requesting refills of these tasty beverages. I did not want to constrain the items on the interesting menu that would pair with any given type of wine so instead just opted for the safe option, beer.
The blackboard that borders the bar and acts like a static ticker had some curiosities advertised so we couldn't help to briefly ignore the menu and pick and choose items that looked as if they would be good to warm up the palate with. My old friend the Gamba ($24 for 4) or the simple prawn, lightly charred but full of flavour made its appearance first. The nefarious looking Pescadillo ($15) which are small and lightly battered whole fish that you use a fork to gently remove the flesh from the bone came next. Working for your food has never been so rewarding. Although it proves to be a mild taste when compared with the prawn, when you match it with the Queso ($8/each) a bold cheese and the huge bulbous tortillas ($3.50/each) you have a wonderful match and are left in the mood wanting more.
The restaurant has a good selection of Conservas, food served in tins. I couldn't help but order the white belly tuna ($13.50) which melted in my mouth in oily perfection. Some people confuse tinned food as being substandard but that is not the case here with their CUCA range of canned goods served with pickled garlic and bread. Call in, take a seat at the bar, order a single tin of food and a beer. Your life will be enriched by the experience.
Much like its neighbour, MoVida, a great Tapa menu is on offer. Designed to share, we started with the Anchoa ($5.50 each) which is a simple anchovy with goats curd, capers and tomato gazpacho jelly. Only one word can sum this up. Amazing. We would order this a few more times as the day turned to night and it turned out to be one of my dining highlights. The Anchoa is also available direct from the tin ($15) however the taste of the beautiful fish is certainly enriched by the goats curd. Pollo ($8 each) which is chicken grilled on charcoal and served on skewers was also great and had a nice charcoal taste and smell. Pulling the meat off the skewer with a fork and washing the bird down with the beer seemed so primitive but satisfying at the same time.
Raciones, which are just larger servings of tapas, is what keeps me coming back to MoVida for more. What Next Door has is just as impressive and exciting. I never say "No" to Oreja ($12.50) which is the ear of the pig. The texture and taste, combined with the Paletilla Inerico De Bellota ($28.50), the 24 month aged front leg of the ham were paired nicely. The front leg and ears of the pig may seem like unconventional things to eat and if you haven't ever tried them, most notably the famous Spanish ham, again you are missing out.
Whether it would be considered gluttony or just over-indulging of amazing food, we were unable to order desserts. There was a good atmosphere in the restaurant and despite how busy they were, staff always remained very attentive and interested. We never went without alcohol and despite staggering our multiple orders, food was presented very timely. For me good food and beverage leads to pleasant conversation and when you add in a buzzing dining room and if you are lucky enough to be able to do some people watching on Flinders Street, it makes the experience all the more fulfilling. The toilets are located next door at Movida which I did not find inconvenient and oddly it was interesting walking through the restaurant and bar area there a few times just to see what was going on and also admire the street art on Hosier Lane whilst traversing back and forth for the sake of my bladder. Although I ignored Next Door for some time, I will not be making that mistake again.
Movida Next Door
164 Flinders Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 3038
(03) 9663 3038
My Rating: 15/20
Value For Money: 3.5/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com