In the next of a continuing series of ‘no booking’ adventures, I upped the ante by bringing not one but two dining companions to Bar Lourinha in Melbourne. Once again, I was travelling for business and my colleagues looked to me for divine inspiration for our next dining adventure. Lourinha was next on my list so I said they were welcome to join me but warned that we may not get a seat. We were lucky to snag the last three high stools (what’s wrong with a good chair back?), at one of the shared tables. Not sure what I would have done if there was just enough room for one – me…hmmm…
What an eclectic setting. My companion suggested Nanna’s loungeroom and indeed, it did have a touch of vintage Nanna with an added splash religious iconography – perhaps more ‘over pious spinster aunt’ than Nanna. Menu choices were again Spanish and focused on shared plates. They all sounded wonderful with plenty of choice for the vegetarian diner. The Fig & Hazelnut Labneh was not on the menu during our visit but the Spiced Chicpea & Spinach as well as the Roasted Mushrooms & Garlic Cream were. With the addition of the Poached Pork Neck & Baby Capers, Smoked Eel Croquetta and the Morcilla, Squid & Black Eyed Peas, our selection was complete. The Chicpeas had a pleasant middle eastern flavouring and the Mushrooms were delicious in a light, creamy dressing finished with a sprinkling of crisp bread crumbs. The complimentary sourdough bread was dense and chewy, perfect for sopping up sauces and juices.
The Pork Neck was served cold – a very genrous serve with capers and a tart dressing to liven things up but we both felt the Pork was a little bland. Perhaps some more salt during cooking or bringing the meat and plate up to room temperature before serving may have helped. Our waiter advised that they had run out of Morcilla so it was an easy choice to nominate one of the specials, Rabbit, Pinenuts and Fried Bread (I’m sure there is a lovely Spanish name but I have no recollection). The bread was crisp but absolutley dripping in oil and perhaps a touch over browned in the pan. None the less, the combination of the pan fried rabbit, croutons, herbs and pinenuts was tasty although the richness and oiliness meant we didn’t finish the dish. The standout from this group were the Smoked Eel Croquetta. A fairly firm filling with a light, crisp coating, there was the delicious smokiness I love so much. My companion said she enjoyed the croquetta at MoVida more but for me, these were a different style, texture and taste so I did not need to compare.
Dessert was a Lemon Ricotta Cake with Lemon Gelato and a Walnut & Chocolate Totra with Orange Icecream. Served to the middle of the table with cute, mismatching 1960s crockery, both were enjoyable but not necessarily standouts.
Wine and water were topped up without asking and service was swift, pleasant and unobstrusive. All in all, 5 dishes, 2 desserts and a bottle of wine between three people is an excellent way to spend a rainy Monday evening.
Bar Lourinha – 37 Little Collins St. Melbourne (03) 9663 7890 – no bookings
Visited: Monday 25 May 09 – Dinner Service