Tucked away on Little Collins Street Bar Lourinha has been my go-to place a couple times given the overrated growing generation of “it” restaurants in the city – Chin Chin and Mamasita being the top trending must-eat places at the moment.
Ever patient and always accommodating Bar Lourinha’s courteous staff usually find a way to make you fit, doing so with a smile. Refreshing and so opposite of the blank stares you get at most places where hostesses scan clipboards, poke their faces back at you while giving the once over. Then clicking their pen a couple of times come up with ridiculous waiting periods that range from 45 mins to 2.5 hours!
I have never been patient, especially where food is concerned. Either my tummy is rumbling and I need to be fed immediately, simple. Or, I want to relax, sip a wine, dips, tapas, or nibbles of some descript, whetting my appetite and eventually dinner will come. I imagine this is the same for most people, and therefore the concept of booking is almost as old as the concept of the restaurant.
I hate the idea of trudging around having random drinks at different venues, waiting out the time. Should I order something to snack on? Something more? Am l I ruining my appetite? Is there even going to be a call back? Too much thinking, not enough eating… what’s the point?!
Maybe it is because I work in hospitality and really value sitting down and being spoiled on my time off, rather than trek the city in search of shelter and food. In addition to this, the idea of waiting for food is so primal, something I try to avoid at all costs.
Ok, enough of the rant. Back to Lourinha and their smart, edgy tapas menu that is truly a haven for meat-heads like me. The menu is only about 15 items long with about 5 of them ordered/served individually (i.e. not for sharing). And then there are a handful of cheese and dessert options to finish off with.
Don’t you dare miss the Pancetta ‘soldiers’ – super clever block of crouton wrapped in pancetta, an absolutely salty, subtle smoky, crispy, textural delight.
The octopus banderillas – skewered grilled octopus is a bit hit and miss. Sometimes not cooked right and too chewy/hard.
The pork trotter croquettas are the bomb. Googlie is not one for odd bits and offal and he truly enjoyed the meaty, creamy interitor and the contrasting crunchy exterior that makes for quite a flavour explosion in the mouth.
The least impressive dish is the mushrooms with roasted garlic that I have tried on different occasions, only to be equally disappointed. The problem is simple, these mushrooms are not being put into a searing hot pan, which means they are not sautéed but rather stewed. Also I would prefer something other than a button mushroom – rather pedestrian.
For the vegos out there, you will not be happy, not that I am complaining! The few choices that are vegetarian are poorly executed. The spiced chickpea and spinach is an unfortunate example of lacking flavour, texture and oomph. Cooked and served as if your 80 year old grandma who has no sense of smell and is slowly but surely looing her tastebuds aswell – sad, but true.
Other winners include the house made chorizo, served whole. Incredible depth of flavour, subtle smoky paprika and wonderful texture.
Go if you want down to earth, authentic tapas, not the glitzed up barely recognisable fusion-tapas that has taken over all the cool joints around town. Also look out for Cassa Ciucco, Lourinha’s latest venture in Fitzroy.
Ambience Wonderful old building, great Spanish inspired décor, love the bar seating that runs all around. Only wish the door was further away from the first rung of tables, can be a nightmare in winter.
Service Great attitude, surprisingly easy going for busy weekends. Accommodating and hospitable. This is the strong point and the main reason for me returning .
Food Interesting and exciting menu with lots of additional specials. Love the simplicity, and how the chef does not over complicate simple Spanish tapas fare. Execution of dishes in general in terms of consistency, precision and delivery however can use a bit of tweaking to tighten the standard.