MoVida Aqui

500 Bourke St, Level 1, Melbourne
Phone: 9663 3038

I’ve lived in Melbourne (on and off) for about fourteen years. MoVida has been open for about half of that time. You would think that seven years would be ample time to arrange a visit to what is consistently deemed one of Melbourne’s culinary highlights, right? Apparently not. Up until late last year, I had remained a MoVida virgin.

My awesome housemates Messrs J and N had given me a gift voucher for MoVida for my birthday last year, which I hadn’t gotten around to using, so when Mr J’s birthday rolled around, I thought it was apt to finally pop my MoVida cherry with him.

I called a week ahead, but the original MoVida was fully booked – on a Monday night! – so I booked at MoVida Aqui instead. I was a little apprehensive, because often the original is best when a restaurant becomes a chain. But I was reassured by a few friends who had been to both restaurants that the food and the experience at the much larger Aqui was just as good as at the original MoVida.

I kicked off with a tromba margarita; an interesting twist on a margarita – the addition of honey to the lime and the use of smoked salt really took this cocktail to another level. Mr J had the Pisco sour to start.


Then the tapas started arriving. There were certain items I knew I had to try, the first of them being the anchoa. This tiny little item packed so much complexity – in textures, flavours, and even temperature. The smoked tomato sorbet was an amazingly bright contrast to the beautifully salty anchovy. I love anchovies, and these were superb.
I was ordered, by just about everyone whom I talked to about MoVida, to try the bocadillo de calamares, a little calamari burger. The calamari was cooked to perfection, and though I would’ve preferred a touch more mayonnaise, I could definitely eat these all day.
We were tempted by the bomba of course, but Mr J wisely suggested we order the croquetas off the specials menu, as the bomba are a classic staple of MoVida, and I should always try them next time. He was also wise enough to know that of course there would be a next time, too!

The croquetas were composed of a sweet, sticky pork mixture – there was collagen a-plenty going on there – and a light crumb.

We moved on to the raciones (larger dishes) then, both of which we chose from the specials menu. First up, was a whole grilled baby snapper, with tomatoes and peas. The snapper was, again, grilled to perfection. The fish almost melted in my mouth, and the vibrancy of the tomatoes and fresh peas and the sauce, while simple, deftly balanced out the light smoky char and saltiness of the fish.
Time for more cocktails! This time around, I had the Sangre y Arena – Scotch Whiskey, Cherry Brandy, Italian Vermouth, Orange.
Wonderfully bitter the the way you would expect from those ingredients, it actually paired beautifully with our last savoury dish of the night, also off the specials menu; a blood sausage with slow poached egg and capsicum on toasted brioche.
This was amazingly good. The salty intensity of the sausage mixed perfectly with the richness of the poached egg. It’s a shame this isn’t on the regular menu, because I’d go back for more, without a doubt!

Now surprisingly, given the amount of food I normally consume, and the relative – I stress relative – small servings here, I was completely satisfied at this point. But Mr J has quite the sweet tooth, and I’m not one to shy away from desserts, so we shared the Sopa Inglesa. A trifle with PX-soaked sponge, rhubarb jelly and candied almonds, this was possibly the best trifle I’ve ever eaten. And I don’t even like rhubarb! I think the menu has since changed from rhubarb to quince.

The whole night, the service was unfailingly good. The waiters had a great knowledge of the menu, and were able to make recommendations as to which dishes would work well with others. For me, fine dining is a bit of a love/hate thing. I enjoy the interesting food, but I don’t really like the stuffy, restrained atmosphere sometimes. I think MoVida Aqui has struck the perfect balance between fine and casual dining. I’ll definitely be back soon!
MoVida Aqui and Terraza on Urbanspoon