Lonsdale Street institution, The Aylesbury, is no longer. Let's just take a moment to grieve. Okay, we all good? Well, in its place the exact same team — Jesse and Vanessa Gerner, Kelly O'Loghlen and Andrew Fisk (from Anada) — have spawned Bomba. A relaxed Spanish worker's bar where tapas, wines and vermouth are king. Yeah, we're good.
The menu really is a create your own adventure dinner. Broken down into aperitivo, charcuterie, montadidos, tapas, paella, raciones and verduras on the menu, you may find yourself struggling to know where to begin. Delve head first into a mixture of everything, or get some guidance from the divine staff. The Mojarma ($12) — air dried tuna — is a brilliant place to start, while the chicken, manchego and smoked paprika croquettes ($3.5) are gooey and moreish.
For the larger dishes, the braised duck and pork paella ($36) is served dry style with a beautiful crisp base and tender meat,p and the Pedro Ximenez braised pork jowl ($16.50) is sticky and rich. Opt for something light for a main — perhaps the Shark Bay king prawns ($15.50) or tuna tartare with seaweed crackers ($16.50). And when it comes to vegetables, get the freekah and cauliflower salad with pine nuts, sumac, pomegranate and mint ($7). It's beautifully salty, light and refreshing.
For a sweet finish the chocolate croquettes with custard and hazelnuts ($10) are decadence at it's best, while the goat's curd sorbet with rhubarb and pistachio ($8) is more refreshing and light. Ask about the cheeses on offer as well — it's certainly worth it.
Vermouth is big here, and is soon to be on tap. For now you can order one of the 15 on the wine list — the Maidenii Sweet ($8) is a sweet, Australian drop. The wider wine list is mainly from Spain, but a few local wines have their own place. For a light, refreshing white go for the 2010 Marques de Irun Verdejo ($40 bottle) and for a red try the 2012 Laffers Lane Shiraz from the Yarra Valley ($60 bottle). For a sweet wine, it would almost be wrong not to try a Pedro Ximenez and they even have a Sauci Orange Pedro Ximenez ($12) for something just a little different.
For those playing at home, the rooftop is looking as good as ever. Did you say The Aylesbury? It's Bomba now. There's no point dwelling on the past when the future is this good, is there?