197 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
For someone who luuuuuurves Spanish food, I really don’t explore the cuisine all that much. I mean, I have the award-winning MoVida Next Door and its constantly changing specials menu, what more would I need?
Because of this, I’ve yet to visit Anada Bar and Restaurant, a cosy little wine and tapas bar in Fitzroy, despite its popularity and proximity. I finally managed it one Sunday evening, after a dissatisfying day of work and a failed attempt at shopping for work shoes.
My mood picked right up the moment we stepped in. Anada is small, intimate, and stylish. We got the best seat in the house – the cosy leather bench lined with embroidered cushions, and looking out over Gertrude Street. And our waiter’s Spanish accent was so spine-meltingly romantic that I wished he had talked to us all night.
Anada may be small, but it boasts an impressive wine-list. Printed on creamy yellow paper and bound with soft leather, there were pages upon pages of wines, spirits, and aperitifs. Sonido! had a point when they boasted that they had the shortest wine list on Gertrude Street!
Most of you probably know that I’m not one for alcohol, but I did recently discover vermouth. To my delight, I found that not only did it not make me feel woozy and sick, but that it was downright delicious. I had a hard time choosing, but in the end I had a glass of Primitivo Quiles Vermouth Rojo ($9) served over ice. Garnished simply with a wedge of orange, it exploded softly on the palate in burst of fruit and cinnamon, followed by spicier notes of clove and ginger that trailed warmly into the belly. Chris had to fight me for every sip.
Bread! Doughy and fresh, served with grassy olive oil and sea salt.
In the spirit of trying new things, I’ve also started eating oysters. This time I’ve started more gently; instead of chucking an entire raw oyster into my mouth and chewing it into a pulp, I’m starting with the likes of the Oyster with Green Harissa and Shallot ($4.5ea). And it was delicious; the caramelised aroma of the shallots underscored with the smooth, creamy brininess of the shellfish.
There was also a Chargrilled Mussel with Jamon Iberico and Migas ($3.5), all fat and salty, buried under a flurry of breadcrumbs.
Served in a delicate tea glass, the Mushroom Soup with Almond and Manchego Crisp ($4) was silky and mild, its gentle earthiness brought out by the sharper manchego cheese. And instead of croutons, the soup was stirred through with crushed almonds for texture.
I’m always surprised at how teeny tiny quail is, and the Chargrilled Quail with Crispy Corn and Sage Leaf ($6.5ea) was no exception. Small though it may be, each segment was plump and juicy, marinated lightly with a sauce of lemon and paprika, and finished with a hint of smoke.
To finish off our tapas, we ordered not one, but two Joselito Jamon Iberico and Mahon Cheese Croquetas ($3.5ea), because neither of us wanted to share. And each bite was gooey, creamy goodness encased in a crispy shell, with the occasional salty pop of jamon. OMNOMNOM.
We almost didn’t get the Paella with Chorizo, Chicken, Diamond Clams and Saffron ($36), but thank goodness we weren’t feeling much like pork belly that day. And really, how could tender chunks of chicken, meaty clams, and grilled chorizo go wrong?
Every bite of this paella was just so satisfying and delicious; the chewy grains of rice were soaked through with a comforting yet sassy braise of tomato and spices, topped with sprigs of fresh parsley. Add a squeeze of lemon, and my tastebuds were dancing.
I’ve rediscovered a love for churros recently, so when we didn’t feel like getting the crema catalana (first pork belly and now this!), we naturally turned to the crispy Churros with Chocolate ($12) showered with cinnamon sugar. I love that these were still a little bit gummy in the middle so that the shell was even crunchier by comparison, and the melted dark chocolate sauce was impressively rich and smoky. When it comes to churros, less is definitely more, and these were simple yet delicious.
I’m having a hard time finding fault with the Anada experience. I loved the food, I adored the drinks, I delighted in the ambience, and I really admired how accommodating they were of the family with a young child. Call me charmed, through and through.