Even though Auckland is surrounded by water, its residents can’t help but be drawn to a restaurant with an ocean view. This bodes well for the city's branch of famous Melbourne Spanish restaurant Movida, located two floors up overlooking Queens Wharf and the harbour beyond.
Find it in Britomart’s modernist Seafarers Building, the 100-seat space decked out in dark wood and deep red leather. Movida’s owners partnered with Auckland’s prominent Savor Group for the opening; the site was formerly occupied by Savor restaurant Ostro.
Ex-Ostro head chef Josh Shields remains as Movida’s head chef, and both Camorra and co-owner Andy McMahon were on the ground for the opening period.
Camorra is known as the restaurateur responsible for bringing tapas culture to Melbourne. At his Auckland pop-ups, he enjoyed working with New Zealand produce to translate his modern Spanish dishes for local diners and this continues with Movida Auckland today.
The menu structure will be familiar to those who’ve dined at Movida’s original Hosier Lane restaurant but the team is using as much locally sourced produce as possible, supplemented with specific ingredients from Spain that can’t be replicated here.
Throughout the aperitivo, tapas, raciones (slightly larger sharing plates) and parilla (grill) sections, there’s Ōra King salmon, farmed pāua (abalone), Cloudy Bay clams and even a dessert using kūmara (native sweet potato). There are also day-one signatures such as the anchoa – hand-filleted Ortiz Cantabrian anchovies on a thin crouton with smoked tomato sorbet, and the cecina – air-dried Wagyu beef with truffled potato foam and a poached egg.
Coming through the entrance Movida shares with Bar Non Solo (another Savor venue), the action in the kitchen ahead immediately draws the eye. There’s a large Basque woodfired grill – a key addition and source of pride for Camorra – where the team cooks seafood, cuts of meat and its generous paellas.
The paella de marisco is particularly impressive – its deeply flavourful base of bomba rice is perfectly cooked and piled with scampi, prawns, ling, calamari and Cloudy Bay clams. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dipping your fork directly into the large round pan long after you’re full.
The fit-out, by Paul Izzard of Auckland-based firm Izzard Design, was designed to be sophisticated and old-world but comfortable and not too stuffy. Beyond the bar-style seating, rounded banquettes by the windows make the most of the views. You can also perch at a stool looking into the kitchen, chef’s table-style. It’s all about the fun vibe you get by bringing together a tapas bar and a dining room.
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