Tucked away at the top end of Little Collins street, its the perfect place for a pre-and-post-whatever nocturnal flight has taken your fancy. Or if you can find a spot at the bar or a table, a lovely way to see the early twilight hours into the dark mystery of a Melbourne city night.
It helps if your fellow traveller's coat is cut from the same cloth as yours. Never a quiet pause, and generally never a dull moment with JD in tow.
Starting our long overdue catchup with a cocktail (or 2) at Bar Ampere, we ditched the Carne heavy menu (tsk tsk!) and the inflexibility of our backpacking waitress (I'm pretty sure some of those bar snacks could have been modified to suit dietary requirements) and moved further afield which was a wise choice all round.
Its a shame really because the cheese platter (sorry vegans, you'll just be on a liquid diet here) had some amazing choices with a decent amount of apricot bread and rustic cheese crackers for carriage. And having your cutlery stored in a little drawer at your table is a cute touch.
But propped up at the bar at Lourinha, we ordered dish after dish of simple iberic fare that brought colour to our cheeks (ok maybe the alcohol made a minor contribution) and to our conversation.
The evening's repast started well with Yellow Tail King fish 'panceta' and lemon oil. The quote marks are deliberate as this was pieces of raw King Fish done in a panceta style (contradiction?) and it was beautiful. It could very well make it into my Top 10 dishes of all time, although the list is pretty crowded. I think its the lemon oil that just takes it from simple carpacio to carpaciolicious.
Our next small plate was Shaved Cabbage Labneh and mint. In less capable hands, this could have been more tart than heart. But the kitchen here has great respect for the taste of sour and uses it has a highlight rather than the main event. The combination well balanced and satisfying.
It was the Spiced Chickpea and Spinach that ruled the day. And I would have been just as happy having 4 serves of that with a bit of bread for soakage. It was TDF!! And I'm sure its something that you could easily replicate at home, and I'm certainly going to give it a red hot go. Stunning.
There was one tiny dud note. They talked up the Blanca's alfarojes a little too much. We were expecting squishy gooey caramel, but it was a little dry. On the other hand, we may have already hit saturation point, so perhaps its worth another sample on my next visit. And there definitely will be another visit or more.
So if you haven't yet been, its time to make amends.
PS - my shutter clicking abilities have recently gone down the gurgler so I make an apology about the quality of some of the photos on this post, and also for pilfering!