It’s been a year since I visited Melbourne and the last time I went, my friend took me to Chin Chin which really set the bar in dining standards. Tonight that same friend is choosing our restaurant again and takes me to Hairy Canary, a Spanish/Australian restaurant and bar nestled away at a quieter area of the Melbourne CBD. Aside from a dark door and yellow sign, the restaurant is easily mistaken for another retail outlet or block of apartments given the lack of restaurants in its immediate vicinity.
The restaurant is dimly lit playing a range of jazz and percussion music. We are seated towards the back today which is up a small flight of stairs past the bar. A short glance shows that most of the dishes are made for sharing which is perfect for our party of three.
Parmesan bread-crusted eggplant chips served with herb aioli – $10.60
The first dish which comes out is our eggplant chips. This consists of thick pieces of eggplant which have been fried off and served with an aioli. The eggplant is soft and juicy on the inside and cripsy on the outside – everything you could want from the dish. The aioli is also very herby which adds a great extra layer of flavour to the eggplant.
Warmed chickpea, baby spinach, cumin & sherry vinaigrette – $9
Next we get a chickpea salad. This is served with a vinaigrette which has flavours of tomato enveloped throughout. It is fresh and the chickpeas are cooked well.
Slow cooked beef cheek, creamed celeriac, broad beans and crisp Jerusalem artichokes – $15.60
Next up is the beef cheek. Since it was under the ‘mains’ heading on the menu, we were expecting a larger serving and were disappointed by the size. Despite this, the cheek was soft and tender, with a lovely sweet sauce. The accompanying bed of mash was also sweet and creamy, an absolutely delicious dish.
Paella del mar y Montana (prawn, chicken, chorizo and mussels) – $38 (small)
To finish us off, we get the ‘Paella del mar y Montana’ which translates to ‘Paella of Land and Sea’. It’s the small serving which is meant to serve 2 but is pretty big. I’ve had some pretty bad paella in Sydney and if this is the standard of paella in Melbourne I am very impressed. It is scattered with prawns, chicken, chorizo and mussels and it is full of flavour, not even needing the wedges of lemon which we drizzled over. This is by far the best paella I’ve had in Australia and even rivals those that I had in Spain.
Overall, Hairy Canary is now on my top recommended restaurants to visit when in Melbourne. They have amazing foods, the best paella and decent servings to share in small parties. Throughout the night we also received superior customer service with friendly and attentive wait staff. We were meaning to get some of the dessert cocktails as well but were way too full this time to indulge in a chocolate drink – I know I’ll be back so definitely next time!
212 Little Collins St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9654 2471