Friday, 27 December 2013

MoVida Sydney

50 Holt St 
Surry Hills, NSW 

This is why I came to Sydney. Ok maybe Chris’s 21st and our anniversary and having some down-time together had something to do with it, but like any foodie, I travel to eat. And whilst I’ve had some great meals lined up, the one I was most excited for was MoVida Sydney, the newest member of the MoVida family by the Spanish genius, Frank Camorra. 

MoVida in Sydney is just like the MoVidas in Melbourne, yet not. The square bar and open-ish kitchen are still there, the dining room furnished with the same high tables and leather banquet chairs. The atmosphere however is much more one of fine dining, and significantly less exuberant than its Melbourne counterparts. The staff are also more restrained and professional – polite and friendly, but minus the jokes and banter. 

Complimentary Bread

I always forget about the complimentary bread at MoVida, and am subsequently twice as happy about it. The bread today was a dense heel of sourdough that’s very strong in flavour, served with reliably excellent olive oil.  

Croqueta de Jamon Iberico ($8.5, 2 pieces)

We can never go past the croquetas at MoVida, as they are always impeccably fried with a decadently creamy interior, and the ones on offer today were the Croqueta de Jamon Iberico ($8.5, 2 pieces). 

Croqueta de Jamon Iberico ($8.5, 2 pieces)

Just like we had expected, the golden shell cracked open to reveal a velvety center that tastes of lightly-spiced mashed potatoes and cheese. There was disappointingly little jamon in the croqueta, but then again, priced at $1/gram, that stuff doesn’t exactly grow on trees. 

Pimiento ($6.5ea)

The Pimiento ($6.5ea) was another deep-fried delight, though maybe not as magnificent as the croquetas. Lightly fried and stuffed with bacalao, aka dried and salted cod, this formed a harmonious little mouthful consisting of a balance of creamy, briny, and the faint sweetness of the piquillo peppers. 

Higado de Pollo ($16.5)

When I saw the Higado de Pollo ($16.5) on the specials menu, I had to have it. I’m a big lover of foie gras on the worst of days, and foie gras parfait with chicken liver by MoVida? Count me in. 

Higado de Pollo ($16.5)

Served with a bottomless supply of warm oat and orange toast, the buttery spread was a decadent backdrop for the garden of condiments. The bitter radish, tangy pickles, and citric kumquats were given free rein to play and mingle against the delicate airiness of the foie gras. 

Cecina ($24.5)

It’s a complete travesty that I have visited MoVida a total of 5 times, and never tried their most famous dish – the Cecina ($24.5), winner of The Age Good Food Dish of the Year in 2007. When I picture wagyu, I think a fat chunk of steak, charred on the grill. The cecina is nothing like that. Air-cured and sliced so thinly that the pattern of the plate was visible through it, this rendition of wagyu is served with the decadent accompaniments of truffle foam, olive oil, and a poached egg.

Cecina ($24.5)

But wait, there’s more! The Cecina is also a DIY dish, and we were instructed to break the egg, before mixing it in with the truffle foam and beef – to make a good mess of it, in a nutshell. 

Cecina ($24.5)

What you have in the end is essentially fatty slices of beef, covered in creamy egg yolk and frothy cauliflower foam, augmented with the aroma of truffles and olive oil. With each bite, my eyes rolled back into my head at the sheer sensuality of it all. 

Cordero ($18.5)

I was so over-indulged by the cecina that I couldn’t eat nearly as much of the Cordero ($18.5) as I had wanted. This was a much more rustic affair than paper-thin slices of wagyu. Two fatty pieces of lamb breast, unctuous and caramelised from slow-cooking, melted on the tongue in a perfect burst of sweet gaminess. The bed of peas and jamon provided an excellent foil of freshness.

Flan ($14.5)

We were full, but never too full for the Flan ($14.5), arguably our favourite dessert from MoVida. Though simple, this is a masterpiece of custard and egg. Faultlessly rich and silky, it melts in the mouth accompanied by a light caramel sauce. Served on the side are three crumbly fingers of aniseed pastries, but they were eaten with scorn compared to the flan.

Exactly 10 years from the opening of the very first MoVida in Hosier Lane, it’s good to see that Frank Camorra has not lost his touch. Just like all his other restaurants, MoVida Sydney is both refreshingly unique and instantly recognisable. The food here is seriously good without costing an arm and a leg, and I would recommend it to anyone with an empty (or even full!) stomach.

Rating: 16.5/20 – movida mad.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit. 

MoVida Sydney on Urbanspoon

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