For a team lunch we headed out of the confines of the CBD and towards the neighbouring suburb of South Melbourne. Our destination was Simply Spanish, a restaurant in the South Melbourne Market.
Having read the menu online, I was rather looking forward to the lunch. While I don't know much about Spanish cuisine (my experience to date has been limited to the three days in Barcelona where the Lawyer and I took every opportunity to eat paella and white bait) I do love a properly made paella. In particular, I was looking forward to ordering the squid ink paella.
SS is located on the Cecil St side of the market. It has a nice outdoorsy cafe feel. And on the sunny day that we were there, we all definitely didn't want to head back to work afterwards.
Unfortunately, I was held up at work and had come late to the lunch. By which time, most people had eaten (so I couldn't take any pics of their dishes). Alas, I only have one photo to show you - my squid ink paella.
On arrival, this looked real good. Jet black rice with a very appetizing mound of deep fried squid on top. Although it didn't come with the paella, I asked for some aioli, which the staff willingly provided.
I'll start with the good points. The aioli was homemade - thick, unctuous and garlicky. The squid on top was fresh and the batter was light. And there was a reasonable amount of squid pieces dotted throughout the paella.
The not-so-good point was the rice itself. A big disappointment. The rice was mushy and over-cooked and incredibly salty. Even the aioli couldn't mask the saltiness. And sadly, one of the signs of a well made paella is the caramelised crust at the bottom of the pan (called the 'socarrat'). There was no socarrat. Just more mushy, oversalted rice. I ate the fried squid and picked out all the squid pieces and ate it with the aioli...I left most of the rice uneaten.
I like the vibe and feel of SS, and the staff are friendly. It was unfortunate that the squid ink wasn't good - especially given the price. However, a few of my team mates had the generic paella (which is cooked in a big paella pan out in the front) and they all thought that was tasty and good value. Perhaps I just picked the wrong dish.
Food - 6.5
Ambience - 7.5
Service - 7.5
Price - 6
116 Cecil St
South Melbourne 3205
Telephone: 9682 6100