Tag Archives: tapas

south side sprawl – rampant consumerism


I take a good while to make a decision to purchase expensive items. I labour over the decision in my head; I weigh up the pros and cons. Usually the pros amount to “I want this new piece of shiny and it’d make me feel happy” and the cons “fleeting happiness is not edible and will not provide sustenance in the absence of food”.

The ‘pro’ argument tends to get louder the longer I obsess. But let’s be honest, I eat too much as it is! What’s a little self-inflicted starvation for the sake of a new shiny?

My latest internal ‘struggle’ was over the purchase of a new fancy-pants lens. I had tortured Gem with insentient talk of the damned thing for months. She was a good sport about the whole thing — she managed to constrain her homicidal mutterings to sleep talk. Well that, and there may have been a few failed smothering attempts. But I digress.

Finally, I gave in and I purchased the beauty.

Then I waited for it to arrive.

And waited.

And. Waited.

Then, after many a passive-aggressive tête-à-tête between myself and the retailer, the lens arrived! To celebrate, a South Side Sprawl was in order. You, the reader, I hope, rejoices.

After scouting Urbanspoon and reading Jeroxie’s review, Claypots Evening Star was decided upon. After some initial confusion in regards to the location due to gross enduncedness on my part, I found the restaurant. I was playing hookie from work and Melbourne was less of a petulant shit than normal, allowing the sun to make an appearance.

the bar

After attracting a glass of Gilgamesh riesling ($7 a glass) I took in the ohm-bee-ants of the place. Mr Dylan’s spastic harmonica was blaring from the loudspeakers and  the aforementioned ‘skylight of the Gods’ was providing  a good view of the kitchen. The kitchen bisects the restaurant and gives diners a view of the urgency in the kitchen and the madness of a busy service. A nice touch.

cooking working hard for the money

After responsibly imbibing inhaling my initial riesling and ordering another, Bob Dylan was replaced by a piano player. A lovely lunch time treat that’s repeated on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to piano, diners can except one side of the restaurant to be closed off, allowing a band to play and an ad-hoc dance floor to function.


After my brief but intoxicating relaxation period, I resumed my delicious mission, deciding on the garlic clams and bread and fish. I had arrived along with the lunch time rush. Judging by the frantic and often raised voices emanating from the kitchen, I think they may still be finding their collective stride. As such, my food took longer than I would have expected, but it was a lovely day and the wine was doing the trick.

chilli clamschilli clamschilli clams
















Above show the clams in various states of undress. They were wonderful, with a lovely chilli kick and chargrilled smokiness balanced by the freshness of the coriander. Unfortunately the one piece of bread was not nearly enough to mop up the broth, with the delicious concoction seemingly taunting me from the bottom of the bowl. At $12 it was a generous serving size, and it has me in the mood for more clams. Speaking of clams, the clam chowder seemed to be a crowd favourite amongst fellow diners.

bread and fish

While I could have quite happily stopped at the garlic clams, I’m glad I had the bread and fish. Throughout my childhood I was tortured with my mother’s overcooked trevally. Fortunately for me her sadistic streak rarely surfaced. Even so, I was sufficiently scarred that I avoided the aforementioned fish, errantly assuming the fish to be bland, rather than blaming its heavy-handed preparation.

Fortunately this was nothing like the trevally of my childhood — meaty and perfectly seasoned, it was the star of the dish. The bread was fairy floss fluffy with the onion and lettuce providing a nice textural contrast, if not a lot flavourwise.




One side of the kitchen is skirted by display cases showing the day’s fish and tapas offerings. You really get the impression of the seafood being super fresh, almost like you’re sourcing the fish direct from the a fishmonger. Unsurprising given the restaurant’s location in the South Melbourne market.

Lunch was finished and I had to vacate with new camera lens in hand. I was slightly rueful that I had dined solo. Unfortunately I didn’t have the extra dining companions required to (shamelessly) indulge in further gluttony. Next time I won’t make the same mistake.


Claypots Evening Star on Urbanspoon

greedy, greedy eyes

Anyone who’s ever been dragged along as a child to the smorgasbord eateries of ol’, such as Smorgy’s and Sizzlers, would be familiar with the gleam of greed that flashes over the eyes of patrons as they survey the masses of all-you-can-eat food heaped on so many bain-maries. It’s a glutton’s paradise. And while this buffet-style of dining is certainly great value for money, especially those on a family budget, it’s fair to say that the quality of the fare often leaves one wanting and reaching for the over-priced drinks. After all, it’s fry-and-serve, mass production.

Skip many years later and that same gleam of greed is still there. But this time, and with some luck, the look has become tempered by superior dining experiences: Asian banquets, Greek feasts, yumcha sessions and degustation menus.

It was this voracious look that remained on my face from the moment fellow EDS staffers, Tris and Gem, suggested we try MoVida’s Degustation Dinner Menu (for the purpose of research, of course) right up until the moment I was polishing off the last delicious morsel of Spanish feed.

Currently, MoVida Bar de Tapas holds prime position on Urbanspoon’s list of Best Melbourne Restaurants – you’ll find it equally listed amongst the top in many other foodie sites – and with good reason. The food is simply amazing. Imagine all those childhood memories of sweet homely cooking, sprinkled with the virginal excitement of trying something completely new, wrapped in a delectable cocoon that comes from an orgasmic dining experience. Serve on a plate.

The strength of MoVida lies in its tapas – small dishes that are served and best eaten shared – and this is where their degus is perfect. A 10-course menu, the tapas are chosen by the chef and varies each evening. Aside from dietary habits and food allergy concerns, the choices of dishes are entirely within the whim of the people who make them. It’s a gamble, but one that has delicious pay-off, just like what happened on the night we went.

Our first round of courses consisted of anchovy served on crouton with tomato sorbet, fine slices of jamon (Spanish ham) and leek and mahon fried croquettes. The anchovies were an absolute standout; the sorbet was a complete but wonderful surprise. Everyone commented on the delicate balance between the earthy saltiness of the fish and the sweet, almost popping texture of the sorbet. I couldn’t shove it down quick enough, but apparently such things should be savoured slowly. Pfft.


Anchoa – hand filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet


Jamon – Iberico imported organic Spanish Jabugo jamon. Fully acorn fed, 3 years naturally cured.


Second lot of servings included roasted scallop with jamon and potato foam, slices of mackerel served with gazpacho sorbet and smoked piquillo pepper. Again, the dishes pleased but my personal favourite was the scallop; such bursts of flavour from the foam. The peppers were handy for picking between the dishes.


Viera – roasted Spring Bay scallop with jamon and potato foam


For the third and final courses of dishes, we were served something a little more substantial: seared pieces of rabbit leg on pureed spinach, braised beef cheeks with cauliflower mash and a side of sautéed chickpeas. The trio worked well together with tastes complementing each dish, though I found the tartness of the cauliflower mash overwhelmed the moreish flavour of the beef.


Conejo – Andalucian sweet sour farmed rabbit legs with almonds on a bed of pureed spinach served with roasted French mushrooms


Carillera y Garbanzos – slowly braised beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez on cauliflower puree, served with a side of sauteed spinach with chickpeas & spices


But the best dish of all was most definitely the Cecina: air-cured thinly slices of wagyu beef, served with white truffle foam and a poached egg. Upon arriving at the table, it was met with collective oohs followed by ahhs as the wait staff demonstrated how the dish was to be served: break the egg yolk, swirl the foam and mix the beef for a mouth-watering display of white-red-yellow colours. Eaten with generous helpings of pan (bread) and you can see why this dish was awarded 2007 ‘Dish of the Year’ by The Age Food Guide.


Cecina – air cured wagyu beef thinly sliced with a truffle foam and poached egg; MoVida’s signature award-winning dish


Look, some people might consider gleams of greed – and plate licking – to be undesirable traits and usually they’d be right, but with places like MoVida, these aren’t only acceptable but most truly deserved.

MoVida Bar de Tapas is located on 1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne. There’s also MoVida Next Door (1 Hosier Lane) and the recently opened Movida Aqui and Terraza (Level 1, 500 Bourke Street). Ph (03) 9663 3038. Bookings essential.

For more photos, visit my Flick page.


MoVida Bar de Tapas on Urbanspoon