When Lamaro's first announced they were swapping their gastropub schtick for something much more Spanish, South Melbourne locals weren't too happy about it. You see, the pub has been the suburb's go-to schnitzel joint for 10 years, and now there's not a piece of crumbed veal in sight.
The restaurant's focus has shifted to ethical dining. The menu honours Victorian produce from Cape Schanck and Greenvale farms, which are both owned by Lamaro's parent company, Colonial Leisure Group. Upon entering the bar, a giant meat fridge filled with the farm's spoils now welcomes patrons. It's a pleasant form of compensation.
The team running Lamaro's is impressive. Leading the revitalised kitchen is Louis Naepels, who previously headed the CBD's Grossi Florentino. Sworn in as floor manager is Marvin Holder, a Vue de Monde veteran who managed the restaurant for five years.
Naepels has crafted a menu that sings the Spanish food language: tapas. The menu options come in forms hot, cold, sweet, spicy, sultry, crunchy and smooth. Whatever taste or texture you can think of, it's in there.
Start off with some wood-fired octopus, served with broad beans, potato and squid ink ($22). The Greenvale Farm acorn-fed ham with stracciatella (shredded burrata) on country bread is a non-negotiable ($33). That schnitzel the locals were so accustomed to has been replaced by the suckling pig drizzled with pork gravy ($43). It's topped with a crackling hard to put down, regardless of how full your stomach is from overeating.
Although a glance at the dessert options will make you revaluate your stomach capacity. Seal off your meal with a sweet potato ice cream sandwich drizzled with dulce de leche ($10). It's surprisingly light for something that sounds so hefty.
The space has been revived by Techne Architecture, the minds behind Lee Ho Fook, Fonda and Botherambo. The interiors have been altered to create a sense of warmth, made up of tan leather seats, timber tables, and a marble fireplace that exudes an earthy vibe. Above Lamaro's communal table is a giant mural of Cape Schanck's rolling hills, giving diners a sense of the where their food has come from.
At Lamaro's you can either grab a quick bite, or partake in the full tapas experience. It's one that's packed with love, community and passion for produce.