Anada is another one of those places that we’ve been meaning to go to for a long time (ever since they opened, which is nearly 3 years ago now!) but never got around to it. One Monday in early December, the opportunity arose to eat there as we were heading out to the Fitzroy side of the city. We called up on the day and managed to secure the last table.
Being huge fans of MoVida (see our MoVida Aqui writeup here), we were interested to see how Anada compared, as it’s always been given good reviews from the press and visiting chefs alike. Incidentally, head chef and owner, Jesse Gerner, and his wife Vanessa both worked under Frank Camorra at MoVida.
Although the restaurant is small, it’s a nice, welcoming space. The tables are quite close together, but you have enough elbow room to be able to eat comfortably – and, given the restaurant only seats around 40 people (inside – there’s a few tables on the footpath outside too), the noise levels are quite manageable too.
With too many tasty looking things on the menu, we opted for the 9 course Banquet ($49, excludes dessert), and ordered a Knappstein Reserve Lager ($8), an Escanciador Cider ($9), and some Sparkling Mineral Water ($8).
Shortly after the drinks (and some wonderful fresh bread and olive oil) arrived, so did our first course. “Oysters with Lemon” was just that – one freshly shucked oyster each, with a lemon cheek. Yum!
Next up were the “Green Gazpacho” (a cold soup) and the “Salt Cod & Garlic Shoot Croqueta”. This has to be the best gazpacho going around Melbourne at the moment, and was a standout dish of the night. It was really refreshing and had a nice lemony tang – we both much prefer this version to the traditional tomato and onion based one. It worked very will with the perfectly cooked salty, crumbed Croqueta.
“Wagyu Bresaola” arrived next – just a few nice slices of cured meat that Ritsy and I could have eaten a lot more of!
The kitchen, which was keeping up a good pace at this point, then sent out the beautifully presented “Charcoal Grilled Prawns with Salmorejo and Pancetta”. Tasted by itself, I thought the Salmorejo (a sauce made from pureeing skinned tomatoes with bread, oil, garlic and vinegar) was out of place as it was quite tangy and would possibly overpower the char-grilled prawn flavor. I was glad to be proven incorrect, as the combination of the salty proscuitto, tangy Salmorejo, and the beautifully grilled prawns was fantastic!
My favourite dish of the night arrived next – “Echuca Berkshire Pork Belly with Fennel Seed & Smoky Aubergine”. Actually, I’m pretty sure that if I get well cooked Pork with crispy skin anywhere, it’s my favourite! The real surprise (apart from just how succulent the pork tasted) was the Smoky Aubergine – it cut through the pork fat very nicely.
The “Gem Lettuce & Chervil Cress with Crispy Garlic, Pomegranate & 12 year old Andalusian White Balsamic” that came with the pork was one of the better (and prettier) salads we’ve had this year too.
Finally, with our stomachs reaching the “I don’t know how much more we can take” point, our last two courses arrived. They were quite simple dishes of “Asparagus with Lemon and Sumac” and “Slow Roasted Beef Cheeks in Oloroso with Fava Bean Puree”. It was a bit heavy to finish off with the beef cheeks after the pork belly, and although the beef had a nice flavor, it didn’t marry up well to the fava bean puree. The asparagus wasn’t very appealing either – perhaps the combination of lemon and sumac was a bit too sour.
A couple of mediocre dishes aside, we had a great night at Anada. The banquet gives exceptional value for money, and we’re more than looking forward to heading back there in the future. If you’re up to the challenge, they also do a 12 course banquet, which includes dessert, at $65pp.
Anada is located at 197 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, and can be contacted on 9415 6101.