Bar Nacional – Bringing Spain to Collins Street

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Raciones and Postres Bar Nacional Menu Comida Menu
D was down from Singapore visiting Melbourne and we needed a place to lunch in the Docklands area – what a perfect occasion to check out Bar Nacional. Bar Nacional is a partnership between Gavin Baker and Pete Evans who bring a bit of their time, memories and experience of San Sebastian to fruition.

Bar Nacional is a warm, inviting venue that is bustling with energy from the moment you step inside – be it at lunchtime, dinnertime, anytime. There is a central bar, with seats and tables surrounding it – the tables range from high to lower tables – and also ottomans and low chairs to sit comfortably. There are earthy tones together with bursts of orange. At the bar there are hanging cured meats to further complement the Spanish vibe.

The menu is created by head chef Alex Drobvsz (Daniel Boulud’s Bistro Moderne, Gordon Ramsay’s Maze) with desserts designed and perfected by Shaun Quade (The Royal Mail, Quay, Biota). Jo Barrett (MoVida Bakery) and Tom Beaumont (coffee director at St Ali) round up the rest of the team. The menu has a selection of tapas (small bites), Raciones (larger dishes – designed to share), and of course ending with Postres (desserts). There is also a Comida Menu which is available for lunch, which allows you try out some of the larger dishes and add some tapas dishes at a cheaper price, as well as adding a half glass of wine for $5. Many of the dishes display the wealth of experience that comes from the Chefs – and has an interesting array of unique ingredients, flavour combinations whilst staying true to the Spanish theme.

There is also a great drinks menu which encompasses wines from Spain and Australia, as well as house-made Sangria, Australian craft beers, ciders – all which when put together with the food are complementary.

For all the cured meat lovers – this is your heaven. There are three types of jamón, including the magnificently rich and sweet 36-month-cured jamón bellota puro, the deep-flavoured lomo (cured and seasoned pork tenderloin), the dry-cured bull negro sausage and a very good chorizo. These are all cured and sliced to order – either in 30 grams or 60 gram lots, but you can just order a charcuteria to get a selection to try them all out!

We ordered a mix of tapas and Raciones dishes for the 4 of us to share. We started off with the Charred Broccoli Croquette. Each croquette was securely placed on the plate with lemon aioli under each croquette. The Croquettes were delicious – golden perfection the outside, a great crunch combined with the rich, creamy and nutty flavouring on the inside. It was refreshing to see broccoli (one of my fave vegetables) to be inside, instead of the usual mushroom / rice combination you find.

We then received the Prawn Salad, Avocado, Lemon Puree, Saffron and Rooftop Greens and the Patatas Bravas. However, V realised that when the Prawn salad came out, there was still a plastic film left on top of the flat solid puree. We notified the waitress and she apologised and brought us a fresh dish sans plastic film. (They didn’t charge us for this dish). The Prawn salad was an interesting dish – it was refreshing and the combination of the elements and textures worked well together. It was a fancy interpretation of a salad that worked well.

The Patatas Bravas was delicious – crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside and finished with a smoky tomato sauce. You cannot go wrong by ordering this dish.

We also ordered the Grilled Bread, Marinated Yoghurt dish. The bread was soft, fluffy and beautifully made and I absolutely loved the seasoning on the crust of the bread – a combination of seasame, poppy seeds, dukkah and spices. The marinated yoghurt got lots of interesting mm’s and sounds around the table – with the result of enjoyment. The tanginess of the yoghurt worked well with the spices in the bread.

Next up was the very, very and by very I mean very impressive Racione dish of the Baked Flathead, Smoked Eggplant and Salad Greens. This has been cooked on a cherry-wood plate in a wood-fired Josper at 400 degrees. For the preparation of this dish Drobysz gets the firewood supplier to cut various fruit woods – varying from peach, cherry, olive and almond – into disc sized pieces and puts the whole fish on the board. The fish is then brushed with garlic oil, salt and pepper and put into the oven. Here the oils from the wood are released and mixed into the fish. The result is a smouldering (literally) dish that comes out to the table together with the brilliant smell of the smoky char. The plating of the dish is fantastic – the fish is casually draped on top of the wood that it was cooked in – to the side is a dollop of the smoky eggplant. The fish was perfectly cooked and was soft with a smoky flavour – the only issue was the abundance of the little bones – however all is forgiven when you eat the fish. The smoky eggplant was the perfect accompaniment to the fish.

The others also ordered the Braised Beef Empanada – which look like mini pocket samousas. They all enjoyed this and loved how soft and flavoured the beef was on the inside.

I couldn’t leave without trying one of Shane Quade’s desserts. I couldn’t decide which of his desserts I wanted but in the end went with the Baked Sweetcorn, Popcorn Ice Cream, Toasted Maize and Brown Butter. And am I glad I did. The dish came out plated beautifully – and is up there with the best in terms of presentation. There was a smooth, ice cream like consistency mousse that resembled that of a corn cob, together with a perfect quenelle of Popcorn Ice cream – I MEAN ITS POPCORN ICE CREAM! How awesome is that!! Finished with Toasted Maize sprinkled on top together with milk powder and fried polenta. It was a mix of savoury and sweet and it really worked! This dessert is quite a heavy dish, but you simply cannot leave any of it behind – its just too good! You find yourself going back for more even after you tell yourself you cannot put anymore down. Definitely try this dessert out! IT’S A MUST!

I had a great time at Bar Nacional – the staff are friendly and really know their dishes – you can ask them to describe a dish of what exactly it is and they are do so with a smile. The dishes are of great quality with a taste to match – aside from the one hiccup with the plastic film (all is forgiven as the food overall was just delicious). Bar Nacional is definitely bringing a bit of Spain / San Sebastian to Docklands – and a result will increase foot traffic to this part of town. Try it out for yourself and see what I am talking about.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu – Refer to pics above or check it out at http://www.barnacional.com.au/menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Funky and Chilled out
Standout Dish: Baked Flathead, Smoked Eggplant and Salad Greens and for Dessert – Baked Sweetcorn, Popcorn Ice Cream, Toasted Maize and Brown Butter
Service: Fantastic, Friendly, Knowledgeable
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.barnacional.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.barnacional.com.au/
727 Collins Street, Docklands
Tel No: 9252 7999

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

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Tivoli Road Bakery – Doissant Heaven

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
The Menu

Tivoli Road Bakery has re-opened in the same location as what was once MoVida Bakery – with Michael James and his wife Pippa running the show. James has been the head baker with the MoVida group since the creation of Movida Aqui so this transition to owning what is now Tivoli Road Bakery was perfect.

The question on every ones lips (including mine) was regarding the famous Doissants that MoVida Bakery has been come to be known for – and indeed it is still for sale. As part of the change, the original products – and more – are definitely here to stay. This was my main reason for visiting Tivoli Road Bakery on a very rainy Melbourne day. I even called up beforehand to make sure they had some in stock, as I know they generally sell out by lunchtime.

As well as being known for these Doissants and Donuts, their main priority (as is for any Bakery) is Bread. There is a huge variety to choose from – sourdough, brioche, olive, rye, spelt, soy and linseed and multigrain being amongst the selection. There are also delicious pies, sandwiches, sausage as well as coffee from Small Batch. And of course for all the sweet tooths out there – croissants (plain, almond or chocolate, with the option of serving with jam), fruit Danishes in both pear and apple varieties, fat slabs of chocolate brownie and chunky as well as the famous donuts – with flavours such as the famous salted caramel, lemon custard, rhubarb and others. For lunch there are also additional specials such as soups and sandwiches.

Customers can also buy Myrtleford Butter and MountZero olives, as well as Small Batch Coffee that they use in store.

Back to the Doissants. What are they you ask? In New York, Ansel Bakery discovered the perfect balance between a crossiant and a donut and named it a “Cronut” – and had it trademarked. Here in Melbourne we have dubbed it the Doissant – how smart! – switching around the order of the two products. Here at Tivoli Road Bakery there are changing flavours and on this day that I went they had the Vanilla Bean Custard and Raspberry flavour as well as the Chocolate Custard. I was very tempted to order one of each but settled with ordering just one of the Vanilla Bean Custard topped with a freeze dried raspberry. The Doissant consisted of multiple layers of flaky pastry which had been fried (as a donut would) and filled with the delicious creamy vanilla bean custard. It really was like biting into heaven. They are quite rich and filling and as good as they were I definitely would have struggled at eating two in one sitting – but definitely take one home for later.

Tivoli Road Bakery is a warm, cosy and welcoming bakery and there is seating inside as well outside overlooking Tivoli Road where you can watch passer byers. There is a communal table with a fresh bunch of flowers where you can sit and overlook the kitchen and see where all the magic is made, or sit by the window – whichever you choose you are sure to enjoy your time here.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed and Welcoming
Standout Dish: THE DOISSANT!
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
tivoliroad.com.au
3 Tivoli Road, South Yarra
Tel No: 9041 4345

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 7:30 am – 6:00 pm

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