May 17, 2010

Bar Lourinha

Dining Date: April 2010
2010 Rating: 79th, 1 Star
Chef: Matt McConnell
Location: 37 Little Collins St, Melbourne, (03) 9663 7890

For some reason Bar Lourinhã and I don’t have a good relationship with each other, I discovered this before I even stepped through the doors. We’ve attempted twice to have dinner at the hip establishment. The first time ended with Daz and I wondering the streets looking for the door, yes it was a Sunday, and yes they were closed....but I didn’t know that at the time! We ended up eating takeaway and going home depressed. On the next encounter we decided to head on down before a comedy show during the Melbourne Comedy Festival. I had left ourselves loads of time, and briefed everyone – telling them that the first person to arrive was to grab a table, or at least start waiting for a table. Somehow we got stuck in traffic. For an agonising 45 minutes we were less than 5 minutes away by foot. I contemplated parking the car in the middle of traffic, but then thought better of it when I realised my car might come in handy when getting us home. So we were stuck slowly growing more impatient and hungry, I’m not sure which of the two is worse! We finally made it to the restaurant, greeted by cold stares....and this from the staff.....not our friends! I felt terrible. I very rarely show up late, and if I do...its never by more than 5 minutes. So Daz and I sat down, looking like a pair of octogenarians after a Senior Olympics marathon. I was determined to not let the stress and embarrassment ruin my night, so I opened the menu and started to order.

First some nibbles - Spiced almonds, and I was in desperate need for a drink, so settled for the Conejitos - Millers, Cointreau, cucumber, lemon & fluff. The drink was exactly what I needed. Tangy and refreshing. The fluff was a favourite of mine, I suspect it was made from egg white, when it arrived at the table everyone ooed. After a quick pass around, very little of the conejito was left. Apologies for the photo’s, its quite dark in the bar and later in the meal I resorted to using the flash, bad move!

bar lourinha Conejitos

What I really like about Bar Lourinhã is like all other “share plate” places is that if you’re still feeling a little hungry, you can always order more. With the service so rapid at Bar Lourinhã, you don’t feel like you’re going to starve while waiting for the dish to arrive.

Here are some of the dishes we tried. Steamed mussels, with white wine, onions and lashings of olive oil. Some crusty rye bread accompanied this dish, perfect for mopping up all those juices.

bar lourinha mussels

bar lourinha bread

Yellow tail kingfish 'pancetta' & lemon oil. Extremely thin slices of king fish, which were so delicately cut that you could literally see through them. For me the lemon oil was too over powering. They managed to pack a hefty zest of lemon into the oil and to me I thought it was too much. It would have been perfect if there were only a few drops of the olive. So overall I wasn’t a huge fan of this one.

bar lourinha king fish pancetta

Smoked corn salad. Oh yum, I couldn’t get enough of this salad. It had smoked corn, coriander, potato, pea shoots, red onion and delicious olive oil. The oil coated every component in the dish with a jelly like consistency, when you put it in your mouth they all swam together like a synchronised swimming event, just delicious.

bar lourinha smoked corn salad

Spiced chickpea & spinach. This was a very satisfying dish. The chickpeas added some fibre to the meal, instantly filling us up. I’m a little biased towards this dish, I’m a big fan of chickpeas and spinach, so this was a winner for me. I especially like the lemon juice and zest, this dish would have been fantastic accompanied by something really fatty like crispy pork belly.

bar lourinha Spiced chickpea & spinach

Jumbo cous cous with grilled Moroccan lamb, and when we say jumbo we mean jumbo!! I’ve had pearl couscous before, but never jumbo. They were literally the size of small gnocchi. This was another stand out dish, the lamb was tender and spiced nicely, there was sour cream folded through giving the dish creaminess, and pistachios to add an nice crunchy texture to the chewy couscous. Personally I would have been more generous with the lamb, but I've always been greedy!

bar lourinha giant couscous salad

Wagyu 'carne cruda' & shaved horseradish. Dismal failure! I’m not scared to say it either. The horseradish was too dry. It needed to be more of a cream to bring all the meat and components on the plate together. It was literally just a hunk of chopped up raw meat, with lemon zest through it. I was really disappointed by this dish. But hey one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.

bar lourinha Wagyu 'carne cruda' & shaved horseradish

Onto dessert, Orange crema & blood orange caramel. YUMMO! This was the perfect dessert, the orange crema tasted like it was made from sour cream or buttermilk, I can’t describe it, it just had a tangy element that wasn’t citrus. The blood orange caramel was divine, refreshing and luscious. I love this. I hate that I had to share it!!

bar lourinha Orange crema & blood orange caramel

Churros & dulce de leche....all I have to say is......NEXT!!

bar lourinha Churros and dulce de leche

I can’t remember what this dessert was called, I think it was called black and white, but I could be wrong. It was a coffee jelly with a vanilla and almond sorbet. It was a perfect way to end the meal, instead of tea and coffee, have some coffee jelly. Delicious.

bar lourinha black and white

There were some clear hit and misses on the night. I’ll like to go again and try all the dished I didn’t get a chance to sample. I’m sure there would be more hits and misses, but that’s the nature of eating dinner!


Chanel11 said...

The stand out for me is the orange crema - I would risk traffic for that, it looks delicious. For me to return there has to be a 3:1 ratio of good vs disappointing dishes

penny aka jeroxie said...

Hmm... the kingfish is one of my favourites. I used to visit it quite often when I was working in the city. Time to head back for a visit. :)

Simon Food Favourites said...

the Wagyu 'carne cruda' & shaved horseradish does looks a little weird to me. like a lump of cold meat. i reckon using the flash is ok i say. i think it's better to at least get a decent photo using a flash than not using a flash and having some very dark and unrecognizable which then looks awful. i still want to try this place one day because it was recommended to me by a local Melbournite friend :-)

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

If only all salad ingredients were trained as sychronised swimmers! The coffee jelly sounds good too.

OohLookBel said...

I wouldn't have thought the dishes there would be so substantial. Thanks for the update, I must put Bar Lourinha on the list for my next visit to Melbourne.

Megan said...

Great food! I love seafood and those mussels look divine. And everything else looks great!

Food lover said...

I've heard so many comments about this place, but haven't visited yet. Dessert specially sounds really good - must try it!

Conor said...

Argh you poor thing, glad you picked yourself up after the stress of the lateness. It would be nice if we could just park our cars in our pockets for such occasions.

Yeah that hunk o' hunk o' raw meat isn't doing it for me, but pretty much everything else is!

Anita said...

The caramel looks great!