This time last year, I received a $100 Best Restaurants gift card from my workplace, in appreciation of the long hours I had put in to complete three time-consuming and demanding projects simultaneously. A few weeks ago, I finally put that gift card to good use and took myself and K to Movida in Sydney – a very familiar experience as I used to work next to Movida Next Door when I was still living in Melbourne and spent just a few too many dollars on impromptu drinks after work!
Movida, Surry Hills
There’s no better way to start a lazy Saturday afternoon than with some light and extremely drinkable cocktails. While I am renowned in my workplace for making awesome jugs of sangria, I will willingly admit that my lame attempts at making sangria quite simply do not measure up to Movida’s signature sangria. With the perfect hint of citrus fruits, this is a dangerously drinkable drink!
K opted for a gorgeously presented Pisco Sour cocktail – a great blend of sour and sweet and a really full-bodied cocktail. As a classic South American drink, it went perfectly with the food that we ordered.
We start our meal with a morsel of a goat’s curd and quince cigar – a delicate little creation that incorporates amazing textures (the stickiness of the quince) with great flavours in the pairing of the pungent goat’s curd with the sweet and fruity quince. This is definitely the type of dish that’s best consumed in small quantities – it’s very rich, and definitely could be overwhelming if you were to have more than a single serve each.
We move onto the ham croquettes – deep fried to a beautiful golden brown colour with an invitatingly crispy and crunchy exterior. The batter of the croquette is almost the star of the show as I found the jamon quite subtle. It certainly doesn’t have the same ‘pop’ of flavour as the goat’s curd and quince cigars.
I was really looking forward to the chorizo sandwiches – a friend couldn’t stop raving about them after they visited, and it was on my ‘must order’ list. We certainly weren’t disappointed – the generous slice of thick chorizo was incredibly juicy and flavoured with a variety of spices. Combined with the padron chilli and the sweet chilli/mayonnaise sauce on the soft white bread, this little slider sandwich really hit the spot.
In an attempt to balance our food groups, we ordered a vegetable dish – a simple spinach with chickpeas dish, which was vaguely Middle Eastern in style. The mix of spices was basic but tasty – and relatively easy to replicate at home which I’ve recently done with chickpeas and silverbeet. It’s a tasty and simple way to incorporate more green leafy vegetables into your diet!
When I’m feeling particularly daring, I make it a point to order unfamiliar and unusual dishes to try. K and I ordered the morcilla on recommendation from our waiter, and only realised later on that it was black pudding. Now black pudding definitely isn’t usual fare for me, and I found it quite rich and almost gamey. It’s definitely a mental issue for me though – when I was eating it, I couldn’t stop myself from imagining animal blood in my mind – a less than appetising thought!
To finish our meal, we ordered a dessert each. As a lifelong creme caramel lover, K ordered the flan and reported it to be smooth and silky, with the right amount of “melt in your mouth” factor. I enjoyed one of the pestinos off his plate, and found it satisfyingly crispy and sugary.
I ordered the dulce de leche ice-cream and was incredibly confused when it came out as I thought I’d made a mistake and ordered a cake or slice of some description. When I dug into the cube however, I found the smoothest and sweetest dulce de leche ice-cream inside. When paired with the crunch of the crushed mantecado exterior and the caramelised bananas, the mouthfeel and flavours of this dessert was simply to die for.
Overall, I rate MoVida in Surry Hills an 8.5 out of 10 – as with their Melbourne branches, each dish is consistently well crafted with a great focus on originality and presentation. The bar is well designed, with distinct areas for dining and for drinking, and even as we left late on a Saturday afternoon, you could already see the crowds starting to descend on MoVida for a Saturday night!
I was very glad I had my $100 gift card though, otherwise this would have ended up being quite an expensive meal otherwise ($150 in total – so we paid $50 out of pocket). It’s definitely a special occasion kind of a restaurant, as I can’t see myself affording to visit regularly for a hearty meal like this!
MoVida at the Airport, Sydney Airport
A few weeks after our visit to MoVida, K and I flew to Melbourne for a weekend to spend some time with my father and brother. With a 3pm flight and needing to leave the house by 12pm, we knew that we would have to eat lunch at the airport. Luckily for us, the dining options at Sydney Domestic Airport have significantly improved since our last airport meal together, and we decided to give MoVida another go with their newly opened airport branch.
As much work as the team have done to try and create a cozy wood-panelled dining area, it’s impossible to escape the fact that you’re in an airport. Announcements of flight delays blare out over the loudspeaker, harried travellers rush past with their carry on luggage, and the whole place is slightly sterile and impersonal.
There’s only so much you can do to hide the fact that you’re within an airport terminal. Fortunately for visitors the bar is one of the main calling cards of MoVida at the Airport, and a constant stream of people line up to get their shot of caffeine or to drown their sorrows of yet another flight delay in a glass or two of MoVida’s signature cocktails.
K and I opt for the signature sangria again, this time served with what seems to be less ice, and less citrus on top. The result is a slightly stronger and more alcoholic sangria, perhaps a deliberate nod to the definite need of a stiffer drink in that particular environment!
Like the jamon croquettes, I found this leek version unassuming with extremely subtle flavours. It even lacks the beautiful golden-brown colour of its predecessor, and definitely doesn’t have as nice of a crunchy texture. It’s the type of dish you might order if you were looking for something simple, filling, and unpretentious – which isn’t a bad thing! Sometimes you need a solid, simple dish on the menu to counter the richer and more exotic flavours of other signature dishes.
I am vastly disappointed that more restaurants don’t try and do more with the humble eggplant which in my opinion, is one of the greatest vegetables available to humankind. MoVida has used eggplants fantastically in this particular dish though – lightly battered and fried, the eggplant chips are crispy on the outside and wonderfully soft on the inside. The light dressing of pomegranate molasses is almost similar in slight sourness to balsamic vinegar, which creates an interesting new version of “chips and vinegar”.
Considering how much we enjoyed the last chorizo sandwich, we decided to order one again to share. I’m not going to lie though – it was a bit disappointing. While the last one was perfectly proportioned with the slide of chorizo being the exact same size (in diameter) as the bread roll, this one was notably smaller and not as thickly sliced. The ratio of chorizo, to bread, to peppers, to chilli mayo in this version was definitely off, and disappointing considering how much we enjoyed the previous version.
We finished our meal with a lamb skewer, a menu item which looked like it was unique to this particular MoVida location. The skewer was wonderfully tender and spiced with amazing flavours, with the sprinkle of herbs on top giving it a final lasting freshness that lingered in the mouth. It was just the right size to be divided by two for a mouthful each – any more, and the spices would actually have been overwhelming.
We definitely had a lighter meal than our previous meal at MoVida, and much more appropriate given the upcoming flight. At around $60, it definitely wasn’t a cheap meal but it was well worth a splurge if only to stop ourselves from eating McDonalds at the food court. Like its Surry Hills counterpart, MoVida at the Airport serves up their dishes quickly and with a degree of flair, providing much needed style and gastronomic delight to an environment otherwise bereft of quality dining options.
Overall, I rate MoVida at the Airport an 8 out of 10 – it’s not quite on par with their Melbourne or Surry Hills branches in the quality of their food (chorizo sandwich, I’m looking at you), but considering the limitations of where they’re situated, it’s definitely batting far above the average. Drop in for a bite the next time you’re at the airport!
Now what we probably should have done is to complete the trifecta by dining together at the original MoVida Melbourne while we were down there…that will have to come next time though!