Sunday, June 6, 2010

Anada Bar & Restaurant

A sign!
I know it appears our devotion to High Street waxes and wanes, and I know that Anada is technically not on High Street. It is, however, on the same tram route as High Street, and the very same tram (Route 86, for the Melbournians) that takes us from home to work every day passes Anada. That's damn close to close enough for us to meet our mission statement, so we'll treat it as being in the general purview of High Street. (See that? I wrote "mission statement" without vomiting!)


Anada is a small Spanish restaurant with a menu of tapas and raciones (which are, basically, big tapas) in the short, sexy segment of Gertrude St in Fitzroy. I booked an hour or two before (we were skiving from an official Event) and we were offered an early sitting. I was a bit concerned about being rushed given recent experience, but I will generally crawl naked over broken glass for great Spanish food and a glass of fine fino sherry so we pressed ahead. Luckily the evening we were not rushed, no-one was required to go tackle-out and broken glass was not involved.

We snacked high on the food chain and the souls of many dear, departed woodland creatures and their seaside brothers were dispatched in the interests of.. well... yum, basically. We ate:

  • Barbecued and stuffed calamari with sumac - these were tiny and wee, with a softly-scented fragrant filling. Cooked perfectly - we ordered a second.
  • Salt cod and garlic shoot croqueta - I'm a sucker for salt cod (more of which in the coming weeks) and salt cod croquettes are one of those favourites that I could never be bothered making myself. In this case they were crisp on the outside and creamy-smooth on the inside - almost too creamy-smooth, like custard. Nice, but not outstanding like so many of the other dishes.
  • Rabbit empanadilla - Yum! Perfect light pastry crunch with meaty filling that had the subtle game-like smell of pounced bunny with a gentle sweet spice (cinnamon?).
Sweet little quail
  • Grilled quail with frekeh and pomegranate salad - Another that we ordered twice. The quail was juicy, charcoaled goodness, although was probably cooked slightly longer than it needed, but the salad was gorgeous. F, who has no qualms about noshing sweet little birdies (despite the plaintive looks of the woman at the local butcher's shop), and who generally turns up her nose at the word "salad", rated the salad on par with the quail. Wow.
Even the salt was pretty
  • Crumbed lambs brains with pork belly red lentils -The crumb was large-grained and perfectly crisp and the brains were as rich as brains should be. The highlight was the balance between the lushness of the brains and the (what I think was) sauce of bread and sherry vinegar. I could be wrong on the sauce, but not on the strength of this dish.
Serrano Jamon
    • Serrano Jamon - This was paper-thin and almost melted in our mouths. The flavour was perfect - just enough salt to balance the dry ham while still being joyfully fatty enough to melt away.
    • Beetroot and mint salad with labne - A lovely foil to the some of the more rich dishes.
    Eating pork belly
    • Pork belly with fennel seeds - see that expression up there? That was the pork belly. The skin was light and crunchy while I could have eaten the meat with a teaspoon it was so soft and unctuous... The almost licorice-flavour of the fennel was pronounced but not overpowering while the lusciousness of the meat and fat was almost overwhelming. Now, I confess that I'm a big pig fan, but this was something else. Extraordinary.
    All in all a huge success. The service was fabulous (despite the time pressures); the food was brilliant and the atmosphere, even in a packed restaurant where we sat very closely to our neighbours, was intimate. The service was wonderful and attentive without being weird; the room was intimate without being perverse and both the noise and the light was low. We felt welcomed. We'll go back, but we'll take others with us to share.

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