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Grab a quick and authentically Spanish bite at Bomba

“Before we opened I spent about three weeks in Spain, travelling around and eating at lots of restaurants and visiting lots of wineries.

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Nick Styles for True Tribe

Spanish food is all about simple recipes, cooked really well with high quality ingredients. That’s exactly what you get at Bomba: authentic Spanish cuisine, from the food to the ethos. It can be quick tapas or slow grazing; a nibble before a late Comedy Festival show or a long boozy dinner with your closest friends.

Owners and chefs Jesse Gerner and Andrew Fisk met at Añada, a similarly Spanish/Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and bar, owned by Gerner and his wife Vanessa in Fitzroy. Gerner was keen to revamp a venue he owned in the city, and together the boys recruited restaurant manager Kelly O’Loghlen and sommelier Shane Barrett for their new Spanish project. Bomba was born.

The four are regular Spanish travellers, heading to the country at least once a year – sourcing recipe inspiration, keeping on top of trendy and authentic flavours and importing local wines and spirits. Fisk and Gerner like to recreate Spanish food classics, adding their own Bomba spin to keep the traditional fare fresh and interesting. Fisk has made sure the menu includes a lot of Catalan seafood dishes, and of course, the one Spanish must-have that is loved by all Melburnians – tapas. There’s a hefty 40 dishes on the menu at the moment, which means enough small, tasty bites to choose from that by the end of the night, you’ve unexpectedly had a pretty filling meal.

Fisk was introduced to Spanish cuisine by Gerner during his time at Añada, and now thinks the tapas way of eating is the perfect approach to dining, giving his customers flexibility with their meal.

“People can use it as they want, they can come in for a drink before a show and have a few snacks, or they can come in for a big meal for a special occasion. It’s quite versatile.”

And if he really had to choose a signature dish from among the 40? “I’d probably say our pork jowl with cauliflower purée. The pork jowl is braised in Pedro Ximenez sherry. We tried a heap of dishes at the start, because before we opened I spent about three weeks in Spain, travelling around and eating at lots of restaurants and visiting lots of wineries and I came back with a huge list of notes of things that I had over there that I really liked.” 

Fisk’s trip made him feel familiar with the vibe of Spanish culture, and the Spaniards’ very different way of eating. “They eat later, and walk around and snack on tapas, so I came back and played around with recipes and created what we have on the menu.”

There are many theories as to why the Spanish eat so much later in the evening then the rest of us, with average dinner time being 10pm or later. Maybe it’s because they run on Central European Time while other nearby countries – for example Portugal, Morocco, the UK – run on Greenwich Mean Time - making Spain one hour ahead – but maybe it really is that they just like to keep their late afternoons free for a nice long siesta.

Whichever you wish to believe, Bomba wants to recreate that little Spanish tradition right here in Melbourne, because they’re renovating their upstairs cocktail bar in April – it’s got bar snacks aplenty – doubling the current size of the al fresco space, and keeping the kitchen open much, much later.

The Bomba boys also like to show off their comprehensive Spanish food knowledge with speciality lunches – most recently a Catalan themed ‘long lunch’ for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. This was the influence of one of their recent annual Spanish trips, as well as a way to keep their diners in touch with the most current Spanish food trends.

Fisk thinks that the best thing about Bomba, aside from the delicioso food, is the choice you are given to either linger and eat… and eat and eat (don’t forget tapas are small so eating a lot is very much ok) or to quickly grab a bite, not compromising on taste for efficiency.

“It’s good because it’s really easy for people to pop in for a quick meal before a show, it’s not a long dining experience; you can come in briefly.”

Bomba Tapas Bar & Rooftop is located at 103 Lonsdale St.