"Are you here for the party?"
The resounding silence from Wince and I clearly showed that we were not, as we stepped out of the elevator into a full crowd, merry making on Bomba's rooftop bar.
"It's an engagement party."
"Oh wonderful! Who's the lucky groom and bride to be?"
"Well, I'm the husband to be…so come in and have a beer."
And with that, I crashed my first engagement party ever. Was far easier than I could ever expect!
Adrian and Chris soon joined us on the rooftop, and following a beverage or two, we excitedly made our way down to Bomba, the restaurant, to fuel up before seeing Les Miserables at the theatre.
Conveniently located around the corner from the theatre, Bomba ended up being just about the perfect pre-theatre restaurant for us, as we had given them notice of our need to vacate early for the show, and so food and service ran smoothly and efficiently.
Bomba is a little dark, quite Melbourne (exposed brick etc. etc.) with a mix of tables, bar seating and high tables requiring tall stools. It's all pretty low key and laid back, but with still a nice little buzz going on underneath the surface.
The four of us ooh and ahh over the menu, wanting everything, but at the same time knowing that's entirely impossible. Sigh! Although we were tempted to go for the set menu option, an absolute steal at $45 a head, we decided instead to construct our own menu, as there were a couple of stand out items we had to have!
Nola our waitress introduces herself, realising that we all follow each other on twitter, and gets us all settled in with a gin and tonic and Wapengo Lake organic rock oysters following shortly afterwards. Sweet and refreshing, simply exquisite.
The bread came piled high, with that slightly firmer crust that I like and everything else all fluffy. A perfect companion with the olive oil to get our appetites going.
The tuna tartare with seaweed crackers was light and refreshing, with a bit of zest, perfect for waking up the palate. I enjoyed having the seaweed crackers there for a contrast in texture as well, although it got a bit messy as we tried to spoon or scoop the tartare onto the crackers!
At a tapas bar, one simply does not skip out on croqueta's. At Bomba, they were leek and manchego and they were heavenly. Fresh from the fryer, hot, golden and crisp, these were exactly as I remembered having them in Barcelona (except maybe a bit bigger), with a light crumb and a sensually smooth and creamy filling, béchamel done damn well!
We skipped then from tapas to rachiones, some of the bigger dishes and were equally split between our two mains, the Pedro Ximenez braised pork jowl with turnip and the Catalan stew, filled with mussels, clams, prawns, baby calamari and bacalao.
Where do I start?
The pork jowl was probably my favourite (by a small margin), incredibly tender, the meat just fell apart and melted in the mouth, and into the puree below and the slightly sticky and sweetness of the Pedro Ximenez. Swoon, swoon, swoon. This is clearly Spanish comfort food at it's best! I'm honestly amazed to see that this dish is also on the workers lunch menu, which is just $15 at lunch time! Wished I worked on the other side of the city now…
The Catalan stew was gorgeous, so aromatic and abundantly laid with seafood. There was a rusticity to it, if the pork jowl was the Spanish comfort food of the land, the Catalan stew is obviously the oceanic version…so how to compare honestly? We all probably would have liked a little bit more of the soup that all the seafood sat in, cleaning out two bowls of bread (do make sure you ask for extra) to mop up all that was there…but certainly keen for more!
To balance out our protein intake, we got a serve of the brussels sprouts with chorizo, chestnuts and honey, as well as the Valencian salad of baby gem lettuce, honey, shallots and orange. Whilst the brussels sprouts were lovely and tender, with a nice balance of salt and fat with sweetness, the Valencian salad really surprised me. Although it looks quite modest and ordinary, the thick and sticky honey dressing combined with the orange, makes for both a decadent but refreshing salad. Definitely worth trying (and something I'm going to try and replicate in the summer!)
Whilst we gossiped and lapped up the last of our Catalan stew, Nola popped by to help keep us aware of the time and made sure we got our dessert orders in place…as it'd be simply a crime to forget order dessert (as I have done in some restaurants…)
Seeing as there were four of us, we justified that three desserts should be quite doable!
The rhubarb ice cream, with apple jelly and candied walnut, was a recommendation from Nola, that I might not have usually picked for myself. However, we all really ended up enjoying this, as it was such a light and refreshing dessert. The rhubarb ice-cream was almost like air, and so smooth, with a lovely bit of crunch and body from the candied walnuts that it sat on. Definitely the dessert option if you're still in the mood for something sweet, but feeling almost too full…
The churros with chocolate were fried beautifully, with a bit of crunch and a little bit of chew (yum).
However, my absolute favourite dessert, because I'm that chocolate dessert fiend person naturally, were the chocolate croquetas with custard and hazelnuts. Oh. Oh my. Served warm, I think I described them as warm Ferrero Rocher's, nutty, chocolatey, the filling is simply decadent, like a self saucing cake, and the custard it sits in is surprisingly quite light, but a good complement to the richness. Would easily return just for these. Easily.
We were surprised how reasonably priced our meal was, although we weren't completely about to burst, we were certainly full, having spent $50 a head (including our gin and tonic!). I had an absolutely amazing time at Bomba, with friendly staff and efficient service and simply brilliant food that's easy to share and just so moreish. The casual, but buzzing atmosphere also lends itself to a great dining experience.
Pretty sure I'm now going to be dreaming of chocolate croquetas tonight…
P.S Keep an eye out on my Instagram today, I'm giving away a double pass to the Time Out Food Awards this year on the 18th of August and Bomba's been nominated for quite a few awards…!
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