Añada, the first Melbourne venue we saw from from Jesse Gerner (now executive chef and owner of The Aylesbury and part owner of St Ali North), is one of those venues that is consistently solid. Since its opening in 2008, it remains one of those restaurants that you keep coming back to. Tucked into Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, it's known for its intimate atmosphere, beautiful Andalusian (southern Spanish) food and considered wine list.
Now celebrating its fifth year, the team has shaken things up with some welcomed renovations. As well as extending the kitchen and dining space, the entire venue has been polished. Still retaining its intimate atmosphere, Añada is sleek and comfortable and the kind of space you could lose hours in.
The menu is all about tasting and sharing. Broken up into tapas, jamon, raciones and paella, there is a lot to take in. Start with some of the charcoal grilled lamb ribs with harissa ($3 each), or the Syrian lentils on crouton with crispy onion ($3.50 each). Move to the slow roasted beef cheek in Oloroso with fava bean puree ($20) or the charcoal grilled rock flathead with romesco and sorrel ($22.50). Two paellas are served up, one with chicken, mussels, calamari, prawns, trevally and saffron ($36) and one with squid ink, calamari, prawns, mussels and trevally ($36).
Dessert might be churros with chocolate sauce ($12) or Valdeon, creamy cow and goats milk blue cheese from Leon, Spain ($12).
The drinks list has also undergone a transformation. A new cocktail list features the likes of a Sailor's Espresso Martini served with Sailor Jerry Rum, espresso, Pedro Ximinez sherry and vanilla ($16), and tap wine, with blends from winemakers Steve Pannell and Matt Harrop. If you're sticking to the bottled variety, try the Lonia Cava Brut Spain ($9.50 a glass), the 2010 Pardevalles Albarin ($12) or the 2011 Olivier Riviere 'Rayon Uva' Tempranillo ($13), all from Spain. Beers might see you choose the local Two Birds Golden Ale ($8.5) or a classic Estrella Galicia Lager ($9).
Añada is welcoming and warm, and makes you feel like you're tucked into a tapas bar off the beaten track in Spain. You might just find yourself falling in love with it all over again.