Monday, January 24, 2011

January 17, 22, 2011: Cinema Nova bar

We're lucky to live within walking distance of Cinema Nova, and over the years we've enjoyed many films and choc-tops there.  Recently they've expanded into a space, just off to the left of the stairs as you enter, that I'd not even noticed before.  It's now a surprisingly slick cocktail and tapas bar overlooking Lygon St!  

We've stopped by twice for light dinners in the past week.  The 2-minute menu is available from noon through 'til closing; these items are stored in a display case at the cinema's snack bar.  The bar food is pricier, subject to kitchen hours, and made to order.  There's a decent variety of vegetarian options across the board, though nothing is straight-up vegan (there might be a few adaptable items - the menu is online here).  Unsurprisingly the drinks menu dwarfs the food, with the 2-page cocktail list featuring a lot of gin.

The mushroom croquetas ($3 each) need a light touch - handle them too roughly and the crumbing is likely to fracture, spilling a mild mushroom bechamel over your fingers!

The patatas bravas ($7) are delightful - not greasy at all, with the right proportion of crust to fluffy interior, and enough tomato sauce and aioli to go around.

The country tortilla ($8.50) is mighty sturdy.  I'd challenge anyone to break off and consume polite portions of this with the tools provided.

Michael is a huge fan of the vegetarian coca ($9).  (A coca is described on the menu as "the Catalan twin of the Italian pizza".)  The super-thin base is almost like a soft SAO biscuit, and this one is topped with bubbling cheese, artichoke pieces, red capsicum and strips of a green sauce.  Again, clean consumption seems impossible, with hot flavoured oil dripping through fingers, down wrists and onto tables at the slightest opportunity.

I think I might make the Nova salad mandatory on my visits to this bar ($7) - nothing cuts through a rich meal like rocket, and the apple, quince, walnuts and dabs of goats cheese mean its a pleasant stand-alone dish too.

The Nova bar is an excellent addition to Lygon St.  Its closest neighbour, mood- and food-wise, would be Markov Place.  How remarkable that it's attached to a cinema!  It's so refreshing to be offered quality, made-to-order morsels worthy of their asking price, just metres from the movie queue.

Cinema Nova bar
380 Lygon St, Carlton
Fully licensed
veg tapas $2.50 - $9


  1. I love that you can make "soft SAO" actually sound good! Even after I got over my disappointment upon realising that the "bar" of the title wasn't referring to chocolate ;)

  2. Is that the space that used to be a beautician or something similar? I must try it soon!

  3. sounds great - but I want to know if the staff are sympathetic to timing your visit around a movie? that is what I expect of a cinema bar because often I am hurrying to catch the movie on time

  4. wish I lived within walking distance of Cinema Nova too! the croquetas sound good :) my povo student brain has already worked out that now I can get affordable bar food AND cheap movie tickets on discount mondays...

  5. Thanks for the review! I was wondering about the quality the food given that it's attached to the cinema...good to hear that it's up to scratch, as I'm always looking for a decent pre/post movie dinner location (Markov Place being one of them).

  6. Hannah - ha! Yeah, soft SAOs and non-chocolate bars aren't usually my bag either. :-)

    Brian, I'm not sure. It's actually right up the escalator next to the snack bar. I really can't remember what that space used to be!

    Johanna - I'm not sure how much the staff can do, but I found that the food arrived very quickly (considering some of it was made to order). We haven't been caught short yet!

    HISWG - yep, Mondays are definitely the go! It's unbelievable how expensive some cinemas are now.

    JJoyce - under the circumstances I think it's very good. I'll be interested to see how you think it compares to Markov Place, as we haven't been there for a while.