Lona Pintxos bar has two locations – Armadale and St Kilda. The St Kilda site sits on bustling Acland street, vying for attention with a large number of other venues – nonetheless, it stands out. Tucked up the far end it has a large street front which hides a generous court yard area, and the menus in the window lure you in with an array of delicious sounding share plates and a very generous degustation which offers 9 courses for just $45 per person. Oh, and the sign is a neon pink olive with a toothpick through it.
Lured to the 9 course degustation we settled in with excitement – and were definitely not disappointed!
- Chargrilled Prawn with Smoky Paprika and Lime (No picture, sorry) – a really nice dish that doesn’t taste ‘seafoody’ at all. The prawn was tender and just filled your mouth with the flavours of smoke and lime. Rich and refreshing all at once.
- Cheese Croqueta – A beautiful crispy ball of breadcrumbs, topped with delicious smoked Aioli and filled with gooey melted cheese and potato. The contrast between the crunchy outside and melty inside was perfect, with no soggy patches. Each croqueta is slightly more than one mouthful.
- Chicken Tacos – soft tortilla shells and a marinaded chicken with accompaniments – a little messy, but still tasty. Probobably not the tastiest part of the menu though.
- Chargrilled Padron Peppers – chillis with more chillis on top. These aren’t that hot and taste like slightly bitter roasted capsicum – however the waiter warned us that it was a bit of a lucky dip with approximately 1 in 10 having a spicy kick – we didn’t encounter any however. This dish is also a standout with it’s beautiful vibrant green
- Pork sliders – What can I say, I love sliders.
- Chargrilled corn cob – I also really, really love corn. Especially char grilled and covered in cheese.
- Patatas Bravas – the staple of any tapas style restaurant. Everyone has their own version and I’ve never encountered one that was bad! Always warm and hearty with a great mix of roasted potato, piquant tomato and creamy aioli. The kind of dish you just keep picking at long after your full. Up to this point, you might have been thinking this degustation wasn’t going to be enough to fill you up, but this is around the point where you start thinking perhaps it will after all.
- Saltgrass lamb ribs – I kid you not, these are the most tender lamb ribs I have ever had in my life. They just slide off leaving the bone completely clean. They’re also delicious, and so is the cumin salt.
- Churros – no picture because well, they didn’t last long. What’s great about Lona’s churros is that they are somehow very light, where churros can sometimes end up stodgy. By this point in the meal we were starting to feel pretty full, so the lightness was appreciated. They still come with delicious chocolate dipping sauces though, which add just enough richness.
Overall, I highly recommend Lona Pintxos. Every dish was done well, and the service of the degustation was also timed perfectly. I would definitely come back and order this again. Unfortunately I’m not sure I’d ever try anything else on the menu, simply because I can’t go past this degustation.
I also have to mention my appreciation of the staff – we were there on an exceptionally cold night, and had asked if they had any mulled wine. They didn’t, but they went out of the way to create a warm sangria for us, which was extra effort they didn’t have to extend. I’m rarely impressed by service but taking a special request in stride as if it were not a request at all and part of the standard service, was really appreciated, especially since this is a casual-leaning restaurant and fine dining levels of service was not expected. Overall we felt very welcomed and looked after throughout the whole meal, which was a lovely experience.