Today my recently Melbourne-relocated Sydney friend commented that Melbourne seems to have a particular fascination with Spanish cuisine which wasn’t evident in the Sydney dining scene. I can’t vouch for whether that’s actually true or not, but tonight I found yet another cool restaurant/bar serving Spanish-inspired food. And it was muy bueno.
Markov Place is the perfect Melburnian space – an unadorned concrete frontage hides a cool front bar and more. The bar reminded me of shadowy 60s vintage pictures of coiffed women perched on cocktail chairs, profiles silhouetted against the mirror. But walk in a little further down the corridor and an unexpectedly light dining rooms opens up below you. It’s clear from the decor, from the vintage posters to the empty bottles, that the restaurant has Spain on its the mind.
RM decided on the Black Angus eye fillet with spiced chickpeas and cauliflower ($30). The meat was well-cooked and tender and married nicely with the Moorish influenced accompaniment rather than your usual roast veg. I chose the tapas board ($26) consisting of a wooden plank loaded with Spanish anchovies with eggplant caviar, marinated olives and garlic, mushrooms with fino sherry, thyme and chorizo and chickpea and manchengo bocadillos. Yes yes, I know that a tapas board should normally be shared, but I think it’s a good option if, like me, you can’t decide on a single dish and want to try a bit of everything. Sorry there’s no picture so that you examine the feast for yourself but trust me, it was delicious.
To finish, we couldn’t go past the hot chocolate pudding ($11). It was a pretty standard representation of an old favourite and frankly I like my version better (I use Callebaut chocolate that I carted back from Belgium). And I think if a restaurant is going to serve bleh commercial vanilla ice cream, I think they should at least give you the stuff where you can see the vanilla bean specks.
All in all, I was really impressed with the fit out and attention to detail in the design of Markov Place – have a look at the bill folder lining below. The relaxed yet refined ambience is the kind of place where you could take friends, a date or your parents. As for the food, it’s very solid Spanish inspired cuisine that won’t disappoint and I think it’s a particularly good option if you’re catching a movie at Cinema Nova or theatre at La Mama.