Don't be confused. MoVida Next Door is not MoVida. Rather it is (as the name suggests) next door to the original MoVida in the brightly graffiti clad alley of Hosier lane in Melbourne's CBD. It's MoVida's little sister, baby brother or more casual counterpart. Of course, they may not be the same place, but they run on essentially the same fuel- chef Frank Camorra's exquisite tapas dishes, great location and atmosphere, and a glass or two of sherry in the mix.
The joy of MoVida Next Door is that you don't have to book weeks in advance for your Spanish themed taste odyssey, rather with a no booking policy it's a walk-in diners paradise, as long as you pick your times right.
I've learned the hard way that if you're really hungry and not prepared for a wait, 7.30pm on a Saturday night is not a good time to try your luck. 7.30pm on Tuesday however saw room for two at the bar and 6pm on a Friday once got us a prime corner table peering out to the lane way- very nice.
But despite the hit'n'miss seating, it's always worth checking out, because if you do get in, it's one of those happy surprises that makes the rest of your evening.
The menu is not huge, but don't forget to look above the bar for the chalkboard of specials- I forgot to last time and missed out on the prettiest baramundi dish with beetroot crisps you have ever seen.
Paper-thin disks of dusky pink rings in varying shades... thankfully the friendly guy next to us was more than happy for me to peer at it, and even noted that it was just as tasty as it looked. *sigh*
We settled instead for the celebrated Anchoa Con Mato: crumbed and pan-fried fresh white anchovy on house-made curd, with a perfect combination of crunch and cream. It's tiny, but perfectly crafted silk and salt. The calamari and artichoke dishes were exquisite with their soft and crackly textures respectively, but the anchovy is a tough act to follow.
Pincho Moruno, Moorish lamb skewer cooked on charcoal, holds its own however. Long, thin and smokey, it's hard not to pick up the empty plate to lick up the left over meaty juices. I very nearly did.
But it's desserts that really get my juices going here.
Churros done well are a thing of beauty I know, but this time we skipped the Spanish doughnuts in favour of Torta De Aciete; an olive oil crisp the size of a side plate, topped with a nipple of vanilla ice-cream floating on a fluffy pool Pedro Ximenez (sherry) foam.
It sounds a bit porny.
It was more than a bit sexy.
We loved every mouthful of creamy delight followed by the jarring snap of the fennel studded olive oil crisp.
We wanted more.
But like good girls, we decided to quit while we were ahead.
And the drinks? The wine list often has me batting my eyelids and asking the waiters for advice; I just don't read Spanish and with food this good, I'm not about to take a stab in the dark. Helpfully the waiters know their stuff and this time I ended up with a glass of crisp verdhello that met all my needs without overshadowing the food. Good call from the waiter, so make the most of their knowledge and skill.
From the roof tile light shades, to the fresh seafood on display in the bar and the 'edge of laneway cool'- MoVida Next Door might not be MoVida, but it doesn't have to be. Sure it's next door, but it absolutly stands alone.
Address: 1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne CBD, 3000
Phone: (03) 9663 3038
Open: Tues-Sat, 5pm- till late