Bar Lourinha is a small tapas bar located up towards the Spring Street end of Little Collins Street. Small and unobtrusive on the outside, warm and colourful on the inside, it's easy to walk past but well worth the time spent checking it out. Friendly and entertaining with great food, it's one of my favourite food experiences since moving to Melbourne.
There are a mixture of different types of seating available, communal table, comfy chairs at the front, stools along the bar. The walls are densely decorated with a number of curious things to draw the eye, and as Benny pointed out it had a bit of a strange antlers theme going on.
Wednesday is paella day so a small group of us headed out for lunch to try this traditional Spanish dish. Cooked in a large iron pan, this rice based dish has a number of regional variations and Bar Lourinha's is described as a Valencian paella (not that I know enough about the different paella's to judge its authenticity in this respect).
The pan in which the paella was cooked was huge, probably a metre across. The paella was then transferred into smaller, individual pans for serving. The serving size is generous but not huge, sufficient for one but could be shared amongst two if you wanted to sample a tapas or two.
The paella itself is very good. I am a fan of paella done right but all too often it's served slightly soggy, and without the crispy rice bottom that adds both taste and texture. Because it was cooked in the large pan and then transferred to the smaller the rice in the pan didn't pick up this crust, but a portion taken from the large pan was served on a small plate on the side. Not ideal, but better than nothing.
The paella contained a variety of meats and seafood - chicken, several large prawns, mussels, calamari, clams, chorizo and red peppers. Theproportion of chicken and prawns was high, the chorizo spicy and the mussels and clams not overcooked.
We were asked if we wanted bread and fortunately I piped up yes. Apparently the very tasty light rye bread we were served came from Baker D Chirico at St Kilda, which has now moved several places up my list of places to visit. Flavoursome but not too strongly flavoured to compete with the paella, a very good choice of bread to serve.
Snooze and Ruby Grapefruit decided to share a serve of the paella in order to save space for dessert. Ruby went for the churros with dulcede leche, a change from the normal chocolate dipping sauce. The churros were light and without the doughy centre you sometimes get but the starwas the delicious dulche de leche, a South American caramel like sauce. In fact this was so delicious that, after finishing the churros, Ruby checked out the restaurant to make sure no-one was looking and drank the last of the sauce from the shot-like glass it was served in.
I missed the name of Snooze's dessert but it comprised of a sweet, pannacotte like chocolate mousse with a slightly bitter sauce and topped with pieces of almond praline (Snooze tells me it was a bittersweet chocolate crema with almond praline). Another delicious dessert with its combination of textures and flavours.
Well informed, attentive service, great food in an interesting setting at reasonable prices - what's not to really like about this place?
Food - 8.5
Service - 8.5
Ambience - 8
Price - 7
37 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 7890