Mm hm. It’s true. Movida, set up on the old Cotton Duck site just down from Izakaya Fujiyama, is the off-shoot of a four-part restaurant leviathan in Melbourne. There’s Movida, Movida Next Door, Movida Aqui, Movida at the airport and then all the other stuff: the bakery, the books and the food store. And now chef Frank Camorra and Andy McMahon’s successful brand of Spanishosity has found its way to Sydney. It’s good, too.
You’ll be waiting a while for a table, and ringing up for a booking seems more difficult than just turning up (the message on Movida's machine when Time Out rang for a Friday booking said the office was closed, and to just turn up at the restaurant). That said, you wouldn’t want to roll up any later than six or any earlier than nine with a group any larger than four. Even then, chances are you’ll be queuing. Yes, they really are that busy. And yes, it really is worth it.
Nab a seat at the bar if possible, for maximum fun and credit card carnage. Brent Rolton (ex-Longrain
in Melbourne), for instance, pretty much manages to amp up the fun in the room by at least 20 per cent just by standing there. But they’re all incredibly adept at making you want a top up that glass of Equipo Navazos sherry or order that extra Moritz beer.
The food is perfectly suited to grazing, picking and chatting. Deliver a two-part monologue while gesturing with a creamy, crunchy salt cod croquette. Tell someone off armed with a slice of grilled bread rubbed with tomato and a few rounds of thin, rich, fall-apart pork sausage – or just hunker down with a little roll, built carefully with a single slice of chorizo, a slick of aioli and a fried pepper.
The ‘air baguette’ is pretty much the torpedo-shaped shell of a crunchy bread roll, minus the soft interior. Here, it’s swaddled in slices of air-dried beef like a little sandwich baby and decorated with slices of pickled black garlic and garlic flowers. It’s fussier than the rest of the fairly rustic gear we’ve ordered, but also a lot prettier.
For us, patatas bravas are pretty forgettable at the best of times, but they’re definitely worth an order if you can’t live without fried potatoes at dinner. We’d rather a side of the plump, meaty pork ribs, or the gigantic grilled asparagus covered in a dollop of thick romesco sauce.
We’re kicking ourselves for not ordering the churros with hot chocolate (seriously, what’s wrong with us?), but a molten almond fondant that splits and gives the suggestion of a spoon tip eases the pain. Especially with a scoop of light, perfumed bay leaf ice cream.
Diner, hear this: those little plates add up – especially if you’re matching them drink for drink. Whatever state you leave your wallet in, you’ll also have had a great time. That warm, good-vibes room is pretty much made for waving a glass in and service, as we mentioned, is excellent. Go early, stay long.