Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bar Lourinha

After going to Saha the previous day to sort of celebrate my upcoming birthday that I don't really celebrate, again some friends and I had another excuse to eat out. This time, I chose to go to Bar Lourinha on Little Collins Street after reading Serenity Later's blog post where one of the dishes was described as a "tastebud orgy". How can you resist that? So Dennis, Patrick, Kevin, Candy and myself went there on Saturday.

Bar Lourinha, and it was just that, an extremely small bar, was very busy. We had to wait about 50 minutes since we didn't book, but we had come this far and would eat in there if we had to wait all night. It was extremely dimly lit and the noise levels were unbelievable. Being such a small place and crammed with so many people, you literally had to shout to be heard. We were seated at these chest height tables where you actually had to share a long table with other patrons, a rarity in Melbourne.

Bar Lourinha serves small tapas so we ordered nearly all of them from the menu. I had read one review on some restaurant rating site where someone said that the serving sizes were generous and filling. Let me just clear that up before we start, don't let my photos decieve you, the dishes were, in my opinion, very small. It is on a par with Movida in terms of sizes of dishes and pricing. However, the quality (or more accurately, Thanh's like of the food) is a different issue. More on that later.

The Yellowtail Kingfish "Pancetta" was ok but not fantastic. The fish itself was kind of bland and the lemon oil didn't add to it that much.

The Wagyu "Carne Cruda" and Shave Horse Radish was again good but not great. The raw wagyu was not as flavoursome as other wagyu I've tasted. For a great, let me emphasis GREAT, raw beef, you have to go and try the one at Horoki. It blows this one out of the water and is cheaper too. Not that this one was bad, but just not great.

Probably my favourite savoury dish of the night, was the night's special of Veal with Fennel. The veal had great flavours and I really liked the sauce.

The Twice Cooked Octopus had great texture and the flavour was ok. But I have to compare it to the Paprika Octopus with Potato at Movida which was just superb and similarly priced.

The Spiced Chickpea and Spinach salad was done very well. The chickpeas were cooked right through till they were nice and soft and the spiced flavour was interesting, if slightly too salty. Compared to the Chickpea Salad at La Paella, which was excellent, this one was again give the ok by me. Do you start to see a pattern emerging?

The sausages again were, you guessed it, ok but not great. Compared to the sensational sausages at Lazar's, these ones were very bland. The Lazar's sausages were, and still are, the best I've ever eaten. It totally gave me that "wow, mmm, this is fantastic" reaction both times I went there.

Ok so we finally came to the Roasted "Tastebud Orgy" Mushroom with Garlic Cream. I have to say that they were good, but I wouldn't quite go as far as saying they were a "tastebud orgy". However, one dish later on I would use those terms to describe. Do I have you on the edge of your seat in anticipation?

The Chicken "Piri Piri" Winglets was given the "Did they forget to flavour this" comment from Patrick. He said that in contrast to all the other dishes that were so strong all night, this dish was almost flavourless. I would have to agree. It tasted like the chicken wings that I throw on the BBQ with a drizzling of lemon. Seriously, my mum marinates much better wings and for $14, she makes 3 kgs of it and I stuff myself until I cannot eat anymore.

The Chorizo with apple cider went into one of those "thats very different" category. I did like it and found the apple nice.

Desserts sounded great, but were hit and miss again. The Spiced Chocolate and Hazelnut Mousse were a definite miss. It was actually disgusting and we each took one small spoon and that was all that was eaten of it. The Spiced Chocolate tasted like mouthwash, but worse. And since it was all over the mousse, we couldn't even remove it and just eat the mousse.

Ok finally, the one dish of the night that was a "tastebud orgy" was this beauty. The Pomegranate Cream with Pistachio Praline. This dish was divine. It was sort of like a firm panna cotta with some really beautiful flavour. But, when eaten in a whole mouthful with the pomegranate and the pisatchio praline, I kid you not, it was just amazing. We all finished this dish off extremely quickly.

The Donuts with Custard, that's what I'm calling them anyway since I forgot the name, was ok. The outer dough was very sweet and the custard type thing inside was ok. It had some honey jam on the plate which went well with the donuts.

The Churros with Chocolate Sauce was one thing that is better than Movida. The churros itself had better texture (is a bit softer and not overly crunchy) and the Chocolate Sauce is also better.

The place itself is ok, but I think its actually a bit too crowded and noisy for a meal. It was quite uncomfortable sitting so packed together and hard to eat. Talking was very hard and we found ourselves shouting across the small table to be heard. Service was very good, almost too good. Candy said she was very self conscious since the waiters would literally hover behind us and watch us finish the last things on the plate before they would remove the plate. In fact sometimes, we hadn't finished what was on the plate and they would start taking it away which meant we actually had to stop them and feel sort of silly since we wanted that last piece of sausage or that piece or the salad with the wagyu.

The cost for the meal wasn't expensive but neither is it cheap. For the same cost roughly, $40 each here compared to $46 at Movida where we got a French wine as well, I enjoyed it ten times more at Movida in terms of atmosphere and food. So I guess you can guess that I will be going back to Movida for my Spanish food in future. However, Bar Lourinha is far from bad, and if you like that crowded bar type environment, do give it a try.

Overall Rating: 12/20, Food and service ok. Atmosphere a bit too crowded and noisy for my liking.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.


  1. Hey, my first visit to you site. Nice stuffs you write. I am just wondering, you take good shots .. why not blow it up for the details ? Would be enticing, wouldn't it?

  2. Hi Timothy, thanks for visiting and I hope you keep enjoying the blog.

    I upload a resized and quality reduced version of the photos because I'm using the free version of Flickr and you are only allowed so many megabytes of upload per month. I find the shots are sufficient for the purposes of the blog. If you click on the photos, you get taken to the Flickr page of the photos and you can view the photos in the largest size of 960x720, which fills up most of my 22 inch lcd monitor. So I think you can see the details from that sized photo.

  3. Hi Thanh, gosh when did you go to Bar Lourinha? I was there just this Saturday night but luckily didn't have to wait 50minutes. I agree it was a bit noisy for my liking and I wasn't as impressed on this occasion as the first time. Yep, the kingfish- it was missing something, the veal wasn't exciting but the pomegranate crema and churros were still amazing!

    Also, we found out that the chorizo diablo (a very popular dish no longer available) had to be retired b/c the chef left on the grounds of questionable work practises (in the way the chorizo was made onsite).

  4. Hi M, I was there on Saturday from about 8pm but had to wait till about 8:50pm when there was a free table near the kitchen. I was on the wooden table with another group who were nearer to the kitchen. Where were you? We might have passed each other without knowing it as I don't know what you look like.

    The pomegranate crema was amazing. The churros were good too and I ended up drinking all the chocolate as well (shame on me, I'm getting so fat).

    I wonder what the chef had done that was so wrong. Was he smoking while preparing the food or was he slaughtering the animals himself?

    I don't think I will be going back to Bar Lourinha as I find I just couldn't talk to my friends at all and thats one of the reasons we go out for dinner, to meet, eat and catch-up.

  5. Oh Thanh, sorry to hear that your experience with bar lourinha didn't live up to my hype. when we went it was an early evening weeknight so perhaps you get a different crowd and ambience on particular night. i find that some places tend to be hot or cold with me. e.g the first time i ate at movida i was unimpressed by the whole experience mainly b/c i was still hungry after the meal and thus felt quite shortchanged :P i've since returned a few times and found that sometimes movida can be very, very good and sometimes it can be quite ordinary.

    one thing i have to say about BH that slightly irked me was that, although for me the food was superb on the night, i reckon they could improve on the bread they mete out and provide a little more than a paltry slice at a time - seriously, what's up with that? as a wog chick i cannot emphasise the importance of having lots of tasty bread to soak up all that likewise tasty food. oh well!

  6. Serenity, it was slightly disappointing after reading your great post, but I agree with you that visits to restaurants can be good or bad each time depending on certain circumstances.

    Its funny you mention the bread thing. Because that was the first thing one of my friends commented about when they brought it out. He said "Is that all" and joked about how each of us would only get one small slice and that we should stretch out the eating of it to make it last throughout the night. I never get why they don't give you more bread, its cheap right?

  7. It isn't chocolate it's dulce de leche

  8. Anonymous, now that you mention it, I believe it did say that. I just assumed that meant chocolate. But I've just Goggled it and it is actually a chocolate sauce mixed with a caramel like candy, hence it had this nice flavour to it. Thanks for clearing that up.

  9. its still not chocolate or anything like chocolate

  10. Anonymous, my bad. I looked up Wikipedia again and it doesn't say chocolate at all. I misread the sauce part and my own mind added the chocolate itself. Oops. Thanks for clearing that up. So its just sweetened milk that has been boiled?

  11. I have received a threatening email from the chef/owner to take down this review for some reason. Read about it all here

  12. A fair review! Now to read about the email...

  13. Thanh7580,

    I never usually comment on Blog sites because I have found that food Bloggers generally can't cook and know little or nothing about food. Your review of Bar Lourinha proves this in your case.

    You went wrong to start with by walking into Bar Lourinha comparing it to Movida. Bar Lourinha is nothing like Movida nor are they trying to be like Movida.

    I have eaten at Bar Lourinha many times and I keep returning because I always walk away thoroughly impressed with the creative food, impeccable service, awesome wine list and brilliant atmosphere (yes, some people do enjoy a noisy bar as opposed to the boring Tobin brothers atmosphere at most restaurants these days)

    You prove how little you know about food or taste when referring to dulce de leche as chocolate sauce. Have you ever tasted chocolate.

    Finally. I guess the reason for Matt wanting you take the photos off the website would be because they are possibly the worst photos I have ever seen. Food photography is a very specialized area. Best to leave it up to the professionals.

    Don't you think???

  14. Anonymous, I definitely cannot cook and have never claimed to know it all about food. I don't think anyone can every claim that.

    I've since realised that they do different cuisines, but that doesn't mean I still can't compare them. I compare my favourite Thai restaurant to my favourite Indian restaurant when weighing up which one to eat at, so I think comparing these in terms of restaurants is fair enough.

    I'm glad that you like Bar Lourinha. I have nothing against them when I reviewed their restaurant. And like I wrote, people who enjoy a noisy bar, this would be a great place.

    Regarding the dulce de leche, I now know that it's not chocolate sauce. And I made a mistake. I don't mind. With every mistake I make and people point it out, I learn another thing. I can't, and never will know everything. But I'm always willing to learn.

    I have tasted chocolate and love it.

    If you really think my photos of his website are the worst ever, you obviously haven't seen some far worse of his food. Food photography is a specialised area, and again, I don't claim that I'm a food photographer. If every blogger left everything to the "professionals", there would be no blogging. In fact, if everyone that put anything up on the Internet left it to the "professionals", we wouldn't have any other form of information than from large media outlets and corporations.

    Well, that's what I think. I'm always glad to have helpful criticism. I think that I have learnt from more and more blogging experience is that I can do a bit more research into things that I don't understand rather than wait for my mistakes to be pointed out. Otherwise, this is something I enjoy doing and will keep doing.

    Thanks for your comment. I hope you might enjoy some of the other posts and learn something from me that I know about that you didn't already know. If not, then there are a million other blogs and websites out in cyberspace for you to enjoy.

  15. OK, excellent!

    We've established one thing, you can't cook! So.......... what makes you qualified in anyway to review a restaurant!

    Actually, yes, it should be left up to the professionals. People who know what they're talking about, people who know about taste, people who can take excellent photos (YOURS ARE THE WORST BY THE WAY) and understand the heart and soul that goes into this industry! An industry that YOU clearly know nothing about!

    Also, I've attached a link to Amazon you may be interested in! It's English Grammar for Dummies only $13.59

    Happy reading!

  16. Oops forgot the link!

    Here it is!

  17. Hello again Anonymous, I can't cook, that's no secret. But why does that exclude me from reviewing a restaurant. Can film reviewers make direct a film, not necessarily. The most famous food reviewer in Melbourne, Mr Lethlean, has no official qualifications to review restaurants. I read an article about him talking about how he sort of fell into the industry when his editor at the time asked him to review a few restaurants. From there, he went on to review more and more. He was initially a journalist I think.

    Food is extremely subjective. These reviews are just my opinion. I'm not forcing you to agree with them. I read reviews myself from other people and I may agree or I may not. It's the beauty of free speech.

    It's your opinion that it should be left to professionals, not mine. I don't have to agree with you, just like you don't have to agree with my reviews.

    I do agree with you in regards to people knowing about what they are talking about. That does involve research and just learning from others. This blog is a great outlet for that. Many other food lovers comment and provide useful knowledge and suggestions.

    But people who know about taste mean, there's no definitive answer for that. Taste, like I said earlier, is so subjective. What I might think is fragrant, like a durian, will smell like manure to someone else.

    I'll take a pass on the Grandma book. I don't double check my spelling and grammar so will never use that book anyway.

    You may like to read the book yourself too. TYPING IN CAPITAL LETTERS IS SHOUTING AT POEPLE, WHICH IS EXTREMELY RUDE :-). And I've also noticed you really like to use your !!!!!!, which again doesn't work at the end of most sentences.

    Anyway, do you happen to work in the food industry. Your fervent declaration that everything should be left to the "professionals" would suggest you are part of the food industry. I'd be very interested in hearing your opinions on a host of things if you do work in the industry. Maybe you can channel your energies into that rather than constantly repeating that I should leave it to the professionals. I just like food and want to discuss it with other people. Hopefully you're the same, rather than a person who just likes to criticise others.

    You don't happen to be associated with Bar Lourinha? Hahahaha. That would explain everything.

    Thanks for commenting again!

  18. Yes, I work in the industry. For over twenty years now! I am in no way affiliated with bar lourinha, I have just developed a fondness to bagging out your pathetic blog.

    John Lethlean is a professional food reviewer. You are not and never will be. You are a hack! Durian does smell like manure!

    You should stick to engineering, science fiction and karaoke and I will stick to my multiple exclamation marks!!!

    You probably should look in to buying the "Grandma" book!

  19. Anonymous!!

    I think a new best friend.

  20. "You should stick to engineering, science fiction and karaoke and I will stick to my multiple exclamation marks!!!"

    You left out hogging everyone's TV and desanitising everyones furniture.

  21. Anonymous 1, it's great that you have managed to work in the food industry for twenty years. That's a good achievement. I wish I was somehow slightly involved in the food industry.

    It's good that you're not affliated with Bar Lourinha, as I think they should concentrate on their food rather than trying to silence people who didn't love (not even hate) their restaurant. You can bag my blog all you want.

    Lethlean is a professional, but he wasn't when he started. Everyone has to start somewhere. He went through so many professions before becoming a reviewer. Even then he only thought it would be a part time thing. And I'm sure he made many mistakes when he started. Show my someone who has never made a mistake and I'll show you God.

    I like engineering, science fiction, karaoke and food.

    Anonymous 2, meet Anonymous 1.

    Anonymous 3, at least I don't create hazardous gas with my flatulence.

  22. Anonymous, the real Anonymous, not you Mr KP, if you really are passionate about food and feel that blogs are so bad, you might like to take a read of a few things. It may change your mind, it may not. I hope you keep an open mind about things though. Times are changing and with the advent of the Internet, it has democratised print publishing. In the past, only the so called "professionals" that you keep referring to could get to say anything. Even if we, the general public disagree, we could not voice that. But now, everyone has a chance to put in their two cents. You may disagree, in which case, just don't read on.

    These links are from Ed Charles, a blogger who I've had the pleasure of meeting a few times, and also writer for the food section in the Herald Sun. He has written many many articles about the merits of traditional media and also blogging in regards to food. Both have their pros and cons, but should be able to live side by side.

    *A survey about how much people trust blogs
    *Panel discussion at Restaurant08 about blogging
    *How blogs actually show up more in Google than traditional print articles
    *Ferran Adria's comment about food blogs
    *How bloggers are happier than real Epicureans
    *The Out of The Frying Pan discussion about blogs (where my blog got a mention by the way :-))
    *Critics versus the pros

    These articles all show that food blogs may not be the best edited pieces of writing, but they do provide alternate points of views from your average Joe, they have a much more diverse range of topics as they are not as restricted as traditional media, they provide the latest opinions on whatever is new, there are many recipes from many lands that you just won't find easily in traditional media, they can be a lot more detailed as there are no word limits and finally, they help build passion for food when seeing others passion for the topic.

    Traditional media definitely has it's place. Their articles are generally much better researched. They have access to people, places, things that bloggers don't. I read the Epicure every week, but I also intersperse that with reading blogs where I can see new recipes and read about many more new restaurants. I take everything others say and make my own judgement. But I don't go and berat them for having an opinion. If I disagree, I will discuss it, but not insult them.

  23. Geezz Louise Mr Fat Do,

    You're really letting this guy get under your skin if you spent all that time digging up websites and references to argue his point. You do realise you got a day job to support your eating habits!

  24. Grandma book


    and it's berate not berat

    you do need that book and spell check too

  25. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, you Anonymous peanut. "I have just developed a fondness to bagging out your pathetic blog." FONDNESS TO? Really? Seems you do need Grandma's book too, as Thanh suggested.

  26. Anonymous KP, it's not getting to me at all. I rather like these discussions as I'm learning to write good rebuttal statements with facts to back it up rather than take the easy way out and throw insults. I didn't need to do that much digging as they're all articles that I've read before and enjoyed. I'm just hoping to pass on some information that supports my point, not Anonymous'. (Not sure if I need another s after the apostraphe, what say you Duncan?)

    I realise I have a day job, that's why I'm doing this at night. So where are we eating this Saturday?

    I know it's berate thank you. Just a typo. If you want to start picking out everything spelling and grammar error, enjoy. But just let me point out that "I think a new best friend" isn't exactly great Engrish either hehehe.

    Duncan, you are the linguistics expert. In my opinion, it should be fondness for? I've heard it used that way. "I have a fondness for chocolate, mmmm".

    Anonymous, Anonymous KP and Duncan. I think you should all check out Pain In The English. I read this occasionally and all the people on this site are totally into grammar and spelling. All the posts are about grey areas in the English language.

  27. i find this sort of thing funny.

    there are always people who take offence to other people's blogs.

    but here's the rub: it's not relevant whether the person has qualifications or not - they are merely giving their opinion, and opening themselves up to the world in doing so.

    who are we to challenge someone, to say that they are not qualified to give their own opinions?

    i find this amusing. my pics are worse, and my grammar is far worse (and potentially more inflammatory). that's just how i am, and i don't see the need to change, to please people. after all, it's my own blog, and i can write how i want.

    that's what makes it mine, and what makes me me.

    so while everyone is entitled to their own opinion about a restaurant and the food that they have had, it's not really other's places to insult them for not sharing the same opinion as themselves. after all, if we all had the same opinion on everything, then the world would be a dull, boring place.

    the one thing i am curious about is this: everyone else is willing to give their names, and talk about themselves, so why is it that the most abusive person is not willing to show themselves? it's easier to throw stones from behind a wall.

  28. oh, and by the way, i like your blog.

    i stumbled onto it ages ago and read it every now and then.

    good work ;)

  29. JamesBluntKnife, I find it all funny too. I don't know why this person got so offended. So I made some food errors, and a lot of spelling and grammatical errors. But all I'm doing is just giving my opinion on food. And food is so subjective that there is no definitive answer on it. There's not even a qualification you can officially get from a university to say that you're an expert in the field of food.

    I hope you keep coming back and reading my blog. Thanks for the support.

  30. i think that blogging is definitely about learning though - you make a mistake and you learn from it.

    also, the other thing that i like is that you really open yourself up so you can be honest about things that normally you wouldn't talk about.

    those are just two things that i like about it.

    for me it is the freedom of expression - i work in a government job and any documentation i work on is very strict in process and construction. blogging appeals to me because it's such a change to the norm.

  31. JamesBluntKnife, everything in life is about learning. Hence, any mistakes or new facts that people point out to me, I'll try to remember and learn from it.

    I do try to be honest to an extent. It is a great outlet for one's mind to write it down.

    I hate writing documents for work too. I think ours won't be as strict as yours. Only the documents that need to go out externally do we really have to follow a process.

  32. jamesbluntknife,

    i doubt that is your real name.

    A nickname likes yours and mine is no different from using anonymous ID. You're not different from people throwing rocks behind walls expect yours bounce back and hit you back in the face!!

  33. get-a-life-anonymous8/11/2009 1:43 AM

    I think we all realise by now that this "anonymous" commentor is associated with Bar Lourinha.
    How pathetic..