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
veg tapas $2.50 - $9