For a decade Lamaro’s was a classy gastropub tucked away in a leafy residential street in South Melbourne. It’s recently been transformed into a Spanish and Latin American-inspired restaurant and bar and renamed ‘Lamaro’s Bodega’ and if you remember the Lamaro’s of old you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the change.
I was invited to try out their menu in one of their function rooms, the elegant Wine Room. The menu is pretty concise, moving from small bites to larger mains, sides and dessert, and most dishes are designed to be shared.
There’s a focus on local Victorian produce as the owners also own Greenvale Farm, a heritage breed free-range pork producer in the Grampians. Beef and lamb comes from the owners’ Mornington Peninsula farm in Cape Schank. Seasonal vegetables are sourced from Spade and Barrow. The seafood often comes straight from Port Phillip Bay – about as local as you can get. To close the loop, organic waste from the restaurant is used as fertiliser back on the farms.
We start with a charcuterie board of Greenvale Farm produce, accompanied by some crusty Noisette bread and olive oil from Gippsland.
Being Spring, the menu currently features Koo Wee Rup asparagus, with tender stalks bathed in a light almond gazapacho and festooned with mizuna.
Of the entrees I most enjoyed the wood-grilled rockling and pippies as the salty water which the shellfish usually call home help to create a briney base for the sauce. A dish to take you to the seaside.
When visiting Lamaro’s Bodega you must try one of their roast meats, which are sourced direct from the farm and roasted in the Josper oven or finished off in the Asado grill. We try the 1kg Flinders Island roast lamb shoulder with a crust of pine nuts and anchovy ($39). The meat was fall-off-the-fork tender, with just the right amount of crustiness and smokiness on the edges. Our version was served with a fat jacket potato, cultured cream and chives ($10) and a choppy house salad ($9).
There are only two desserts on the menu and the one that’s been getting all the attention lately is the sweet potato ice cream sandwich with dulce de leche ($10). The odd-sounding combination is surprisingly good, with the sweet potato lending an orange tinge rather than a root vege flavour to the ice cream centre of a chocolate-dipped eclair.
Lamaro’s Bodega is a great ambassador for the showing off the high quality of Victorian produce. The products are simply cooked with flair so that the natural qualities of the food shine through and the relaxed dining atmosphere makes it a great place for a hearty meal or a small bite with drinks.