I have reviewed Anada before, but way before the full-fledged version of MEL: HOT OR NOT when reviews didn’t necessarily contain photos. I have felt for a while that Anada deserved more a few paragraphs of text, so to redress this situation some friends and I organised to have Sunday lunch there.
In terms of decor and atmosphere, nothing much has changed from my last visit – the best seats in my opinion are still the tables by the high windows which stream in the light and provide good people-watching opportunities of Gertrude Street. On Sunday the small restaurant was completely full and had a buzzy neighbourhood atmosphere about it.
Anada is definitely a place that I recommend visiting with a large group – that way you get to try a broad spectrum of tapas and raciones and as the tapas are ordered individually, you can easily cater to individual likes and dislikes. Here’s a run-down of our lunch for five which spans a good variety of seafood, meat and vegetables, all served on the wonderfully tactile ceramic plates also used by MoVida Next Door.
From the tapas menu, three fat juicy oysters ($3.50 each). I’m a believer that oysters are better without any sort of dressing up (never a Kilpatrick did I like) and these morsels had skipped straight out of the ocean onto the plate.
Fried baby cauliflower in zaatar ($5 each). Baby these are not – vegetarians eat your heart out.
Spring Bay scallop quickly seared and presented in its shell with flecks of jamon migas ($5.50 each)
I was a huge fan of the these fat, tender pillows of calamari quickly braised and branded with grill stripes. The calamari was stuffed with calamari tentacles, breadcrumbs, nuts and parsley flavoured with sumac ($5).
Every time I see empanidillas on a menu I can’t resist – but I always forget that I actually don’t really like the bubbly deep-fried pastry which is used for them. So while the shredded rabbit filling in these empanillas ($4.50) was moist, I still didn’t like the overall dryish mouthfeel. I can see the purists wagging their fingers, but a good dose of alioli would have made these better for me.
Queso manchego and membrillo (quince paste) ($4). Relative to the other tapas, I think give this a miss unless you really like manchego or quince.
Another notable dish for vegetarians – Syrian lentils on croupon sprinkled with crispy onion ($3). A small perfect package of contrasting textures, flavours and colours.
From the racione menu, Echuca Berkshire pork belly with fennel seed & smoky aubergine ($19). If you like pork belly this is an unmissable dish – a generous slab of crispy skin supported by layers of melt-in-your-mouth meat and resting on some very creamy, smokey eggplant.
A simple yet effective dish of juicy mushrooms cooked off with Romato Pedro Ximinez sherry ($11.50).
A fresh and colourful combination of richly-hued of fresh beetroot spooned with labneh, mint and Romate sherry vinegar ($12).
An oldie but a goodie – classic Spanish potato tortilla with alioli ($10).
And finally – arroz negro with cuttlefish, squid, clams and skate ($30). The paellas all take 30 minutes to cook and come presented in their pan, and if you have the appetite I highly recommend ordering one of them. Our pan contained lots of perfectly cooked inky rice spiked with fresh seafood, with the fresh sea flavours enhanced by generous squeezes of lemon.
It’s not surprising that we had no room for dessert at the end, even though the menu did look very tempting. With a couple of drinks, our total came to $35 a head, amazing value for so much excellent quality food. Anada is definitely one of my favourites in Melbourne.
Anada , 197 Gertrude St, Fitzroy +61 3 9415 6101