March 16, 2014

103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Oh, Bomba, my Bomba! What can I say about the place, apart from that it’s shaping up to be my new favourite place in Melbourne? Doesn’t matter if it’s a celebratory dinner, to impress a friend who’s visiting from out of town, or as a spur of the moment dinner for two, it’s rapidly become my go-to restaurant to eat at in the city. If you haven’t already been and need some convincing, here’s why:

  • The food is Spanish, which is one of my absolute favourite cuisines to eat out, and is extremely good value.
  • Great drinks menu.
  • Smart vibe.
  • There’s a killer rooftop bar upstairs.
  • Most importantly, every single thing I’ve eaten there has been delicious (and I’ve been at least three times already, with a fourth planned later this week).

Still not convinced? Maybe some shots from two of my recent meals there will do the trick.

The first I’d heard of Bomba was when lots of people were bemoaning the closure of the beloved Aylesbury in the same building. Then Bomba opened up and suddenly the very same people were sighing in happiness over the fresh menu, more accessible price point and general charm of the place.

Late last year I took R, who was down from Sydney, there for dinner. Because we walked in around 7, we first enjoyed a drink at the upstairs bar while we waited for a spot downstairs. About half an hour later (this on a Friday so not bad, but worth booking I think) we moved to a spot near the prep station, where one chef was efficiently covering a bevy of dishes from oysters to a host of salads and other raw dishes.

The menu at Bomba is broken into aperitivo, charcuterie, montadidos, tapas, paella, raciones and verduras. A pair of men next to us ordered a couple of small bites and then shared a fantastic looking seafood paella, but R and I decided to go down the tapas/raciones path. Our waiter was very helpful at suggesting which dishes were particularly delicious and how much the two of us should order.

First up, a glowing red serve of acorn fed Berkshire chorizo, accompanied by a pair of chicken, manchego and smoked paprika croquetas. The chorizo was lovely and smoky, and the croquetas a creamy, deep fried dream.

I’d never heard of montadidos before; as the waiter explained they’re small pieces of toast topped with a variety of delicious foodstuffs, many involving a combination of cheese, tomato and preserved meat or fish. We shared two: one with tomato, burrata, sherry vinegar and a hand filleted Nassari anchovy, the other with crushed pea, goats curd and house made morcilla. Though I’m a huge fan of morcilla and really enjoyed this version, the burrata anchovy toast was a notch above. I could have had another of each of these!

Unexpectedly, owner Jesse Gerner then came around with a board of Mojama to try. Mojama is air dried tuna, and is best explained as a seafood version of jamon. It was very interesting to try, with a slight fishy taste but lacking the fatty pull and stretch of cured meats.

Next up, a half-quail with pistachio and buckwheat was a real treat and was devoured by both of us. The sweet pistachios were a good contrast to the gamey and tender meat, expertly chargrilled.

From the raciones section of the menu, we picked a couple of dishes to share. These lamb ribs with romesco were charred and fatty and tender in all the right ways. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be on the menu any longer. We also enjoyed a bowl of Shark Bay king prawns with pil pil, which were tender and bloody tasty.

For dessert we shared a dish of Bomba’s somewhat famous chocolate croquetas with custard and hazelnuts (apologies for the blurry photo). Very rich, I could only manage one of these little babies, but my god were they delicious when dragged through the custard! Dessert croquetas, what a revelation!

Rather perfectly, we finished with a small serve of goat’s curd sorbet with rhubarb and pistachio. Tart, cold and sour, this was a great way to cleanse our palate after such a heavy chocolate number!

Ok. So that was Bomba: take 1. Better stop, make yourself a tea and settle back for Bomba: take 2 (if anything, it’s even better!)

The second time I went to Bomba was with S, we were very lazy and just said ‘feed us, please’ to the waiter, who brought over a selection of delicious dishes for us to enjoy. Before any food arrived, I greatly enjoyed an aperitif: Lillet Rose from Podensac, France. It was so nice and refreshing, and I’ve thought back to it so many times since, I really should buy myself a bottle for home.

Soon after we’d ordered, a bowl of olives and two large slices of cured meat arrived. A quick look at the menu revealed this to be Blackmore’s 9+ marble score wagyu cecina – what a treat! I know this sounds like something Nigella would say, but I enjoy little more in life than tearing off a hunk of bread, dipping generously in olive oil, folding a piece of cured meat on top and stuffing the whole thing in my mouth. Dangerously good.

Next up, a repeat from last time but just as enjoyable, were the chicken and manchego croquetas.

The only slightly ‘meh’ thing was the gazpacho. It was such a small serve it was almost a nothing dish, and some of the oily soup had sloshed up the sides of the glass which did nothing for it’s presentation. Taste-wise it was fine, but not something I’d chose myself.

Next up, corn on corn! A cornucopia of corn! That is, chargrilled corn on the cob with dried maize on top and a romesco sauce underneath. The dried maize made this a very messy dish to eat, but the romesco worked wonderfully with the sweet corn.

Also a repeat from last time (I’m guessing this is a popular dish), a pair of quail legs with pistachio and buckwheat.

I’d eaten these king prawns with pil pil last time but didn’t manage a good photo of them. If anything, they seemed bigger, juicier and more tasty this time, but I could be imagining any inconsistency.

The largest dish we were served was two generous pieces of Pedro Ximenez braised pork jowl with celeriac puree. Quite a heavy dish for summer, I thought, but delicious nonetheless. The celeriac puree was a particularly good match, and reminded me of the beef cheek I’d eaten at MoVida.

To accompany the pork jowl was a fresh yet filling freekah and cauliflower salad with pomegranate, mint, almonds and sumac. This is my kind of salad – fresh and tangy and best eaten with a spoon!

That’s all from me on Bomba unfortunately – you’ll have to go there yourself if you want more! If the food I’ve eaten there is any indication, any night spent at Bomba will be relaxing, convivial, and filled with scrumptious Spanish food – and who would say ‘no’ to that?

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