Monday, 12 November 2007

Bar Lourinha

Are you looking for the perfect wine bar? Then look no further. I know its not in Brisbane, but next time you are in Melbourne, make sure you don't miss Bar Lourinha.

Its a fairly small room, and you either sit at the bar, or at high communal tables. We chose the bar, mainly to eye off all the great spirits behind the bar. The room is decorated with a few eccentric knick-knacks, to give the place a bit of atmosphere.

So first up, drinks. The wine list is one page, but its a great page. There are a small amount of wines available by the glass, but don't expect what you would see in many Australian restaurants. Here you'll see Spanish, Greek, German, Italian and a few French wines. Don't know your albarino from your touriga franca? Well then you've come to the right spot. Bar Lourinha is all about immersing yourself in these fantastic European wines. And the prices are reasonable, which makes the whole thing even more attractive. Start with a manzanilla sherry, move on to a vinho verde, then a tempranillo, and you're set for a great afternoon.

If you're not into wine, then there's Kirin beer on tap, and a great range of spirits.

So what's the food like? Perfect portions to have with a glass of wine. These dishes are great for sharing, so pick a few and start nibbling away. We started with the Wagyu carne cruda ($15) and the cabbage salad with feta and mint ($13). I don't eat a lot of rare meat, but was willing to give the carne cruda a go. It was a generous serving, paired with some shaved horseradish, beetroot, radish and flat leaf parsley. The beef was extremely tender, but it was a very rich dish, which I just managed to finish. Needless to say it was a great match with my joven tempranillo. The cabbage salad was zingy and herby that was the perfect starter. The menu made no mention of the coriander, dill and flat leaf parsley that was also in the dish, but it was a fantastic salad. My dining companion was a bit narked to find her despised coriander appear, but it was removed and the dish disappeared pretty quickly.

Then for the next round, which was the house made chorizo with apple cider ($15) and the asparagus with labneh ($15). The chorizo was my favourite dish, served swimming in sauce. It was everything chorizo should be - salty, savoury and completely moreish. The crunchy pieces of apple that accompanied the chorizo gave the dish a good contrast of textures. The asparagus with labneh was solid, but nothing memorable. I thought it was a bit strange that it was served cold, but I'm finding that its now almost becoming mandatory to ask if a dish is hot or cold when ordering, because sometimes you just don't know. Anyway it was a decent selection of green and white asparagus, but there are probably more interesting and tasty options that may be a better choice.

At this stage, we didn't really need any more food. But we'd ordered it, so kept going. To finish up we had ordered the tallegio with celery and apple salad ($10). A couple of small, very cool china plates were brought out to us for this course and together with a cheese knife and silver forks really added to the character of the dish. Anyway this was a great way to end the afternoon - some fairly young tallegio with a great, crunchy salad of celery and apple.

For those that need some dessert, there are sweet options too, or you can order a selection of cheeses.

Finally, the service is informal, relaxed and completely unpretentious. The waiter at the bar will be more than happy to guide you through all those wines you've never heard of, or heard of but never had the chance to try.

All the ingredients are here for a very long afternoon or night. At the end, the bill was $117, and that covered 5 dishes, 4 glasses of wine and 2 spirits. At those prices, its hard not to enjoy yourselves.

Get along to Bar Lourinha. As much as I love Anise in Brisbane, this place is even better. I'll definitely be back next time we are in Melbourne.

What does all these mean? Fantastic wine, food to share and a long, lazy afternoon.

food bling ratings
Food - Great
Service - Good
Ambience - Understadedly Eccentric
Value for Money - Great
Wine - Top Shelf

Vegetarian - Good
Gluten Free - Good

Bar Lourinha
37 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC
p - 03 9663 7890
w -

Bar Lourinhã on Urbanspoon

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