One of my lovely friends said that I should talk more about the ambience of a restaurant. Quite right and this is one of the best restaurants to do just that.
Yes it is small and narrow and wooden and really feels like a moment of time in San Sebastian, but really Bar Lourinha is all about the walls. I would describe this as a place of Sets but not dull like Year 7 maths (I got 28% for my Sets test and am still sensitive about that). But no sensitivity here, this place is bold - a set of copper plates and pots, a set of religious icons and crosses, a set of clocks, a set of dark paintings and a set of animal horns. Eclectic but not try-hard.
There is a feeling of buzz and fire about this place which comes from the patrons, which comes from the smell in the kitchen and which comes from the waiters who genuinely care about the fact that you will need to wait at least 15 minutes for a table. You will never feel alone and neglected and there will always be a great glass of vino that you have never heard of in hand.
I have been here countless times and have eaten everything on the menu. It doesn't change much but there are always surprises in the specials. It is shared tapas and everything is pretty much excellent.
Kingfish with pancetta cured in lemon oil.
Mozzarella with anchovy, radish and garlic crumbs.
Skewered prawns with a simple lemon, chilli and parsley sauce - we demolished these, shells, legs, heads, eyes and all (3 Greeks eating of course).
Chickpeas with spinach, lemon and spices which even men seem to like.
Chorizo with apple.
The best creamy white wined mushrooms ever.
And the best of all, cabbage with lemon, labneh, mint, dill, radish, parsley and the perfect amount of salt and olive oil. I am listing all the ingredients clearly here for my sister who declares "I will make this, how hard can it be" - DREAMIN.
The churros here is bloody good. But what I think is perhaps the best dessert in Melbourne is the cremacotta (like a pannacotta) with pistacchio praline, cranberries and some citrus.
Price is not cheap, you can pay anywhere between $60 with no alcohol up to $120 per head if you drink a bit more.
The best feature is that everyone calls it a different name, some like me "Bar Lourrrrrrinya" with a Spanish accent (which is try-hard actually) and others "Bar Lureeeena" as Aussie as all hell. Bar Doesn'tmatter perhaps cos anything goes.