12 August, 2009


197 Gertrude St, Fitzroy; 03 9415 6101

It's so hot right now. Food reviewers around Melbourne are loving Añada's work. Clearly Melbourne's diners are fond of tapas too, given the struggles many have getting into Movida Next Door (which doesn't take bookings), and Añada (which, thankfully does). Despite its more welcome policy, even on a random Wednesday they had but two seats available: in at 6pm, out by 7.30.

There's just something about tapas that excites the crowds. Añada does the pick-and-mix variety - most dishes allow you to order by the piece. Maybe one Coffin Bay scallop with squid ink migas (migas is a crumb topping, usually made with old bread - I assume the reference to squid ink indicates what its soaked in); a rabbit empanadilla; or a round of fried eggplant topped with mint, chilli and a dollop of labneh, plated up all on its own.
On the other side of the menu are the raciones. Raciones are bigger, though hardly overwhelming, but it's a lesson in good produce as to how satisfying a few of those little plates can be.

A signature dish, from the raciones side, is the bacalao with broad beans and ajo blanco (the latter made from almonds, garlic, oil and water; normally served as a cold soup but in this cash as garnish). On the night we visited they were out of bacalao - a bit of a blow - but offered swordfish instead. Neither my dining partner nor I rave for swordfish, but this dish was just magnificent.

Setas al jerez - mushrooms cooked with sherry - were similarly rewarding. Mushrooms are wonderful for absorbing flavours, and the sweet richness of the sherry mixed with the mushrooms' inherent muskiness was a terrific match.

I don't believe in eating tapas without partaking of some kind of potato. The patates a lo pobre where certainly slow cooked, as the menu promised: they had taken on an enormous amount of flavour from bay leaves, pepper and oil.
The 7.30 deadline didn't become an issue, as it happened, even as we prevaricated over whether or not to get dessert. On offer was pomegranate sorbet, orange water drizzle, sugared pistachios - shows to go just how filling small dishes of food can be given I didn't order it.