I’ve pretty much given up hope of getting a booking at MoVida nowadays, so I’m very grateful for its little offshoot MoVida Next Door, where I’m more likely to be able to walk into a table if I time it right.

Besides, MoVida Next Door has a frontage facing the passing parade of Flinders Street and Federation Square, I actually think it’s actually a more interesting backdrop for eating. The high ceilings and central bar very much evoke the tapas bars of Spain, yet the view outside reminds us that we’re firmly rooted in Melbourne.

As befits a little bar, MoVida Next Door serves a limited menu of small eats with some dishes designed for sharing. Everyone perches on stools so there’s no lazing around for a long lunch here – it’s about quick food and fast service.

That’s not to say that any corners are cut, and the few morsels we sampled for a light lunch were all excellent – starting with the oily, salty, complimentary bread rolls. First tapa – slices of classic Spanish tortilla of potatoes and onion ($3.50 each). I’ve often made this simple dish myself, but I’ve never managed to set it to the fluffy consistency presented by MoVida Next Door.

A special of cured Hervey Bay scallop with a sprinkle of chives and capers ($4.50). A delicate and fresh flavour burst.

Bomba of mashed potato and chorizo ($4.50). A tapa made famous by Marion in the most recent MasterChef series. They are comforting yet deceptively complex, as evidenced by the official recipe available here. I definitely have more respect for this little ball of mashed potato after reading the recipe!

Berenjenas – crispy Eggplant chips with Salmorejo sauce ($9.50). I’m generally not a fan of eggplant but the fried and salted eggplants strips, dipped in the thick and creamy tomato sauce, would convert anyone. Beautifully presented in a ceramic pot and matching dish too.

Lovely service, great atmosphere and a very satisfying meal of just the right quantities (washed down with a cranberry juice and ruby grapefruit juice, $4 each) for a light lunch. A definite place to return for a touch of authentic Spain.

(Don’t forget that you can win a Panasonic Lumix TZ10 camera on the blog until Friday 3 September!)

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