Meigas~ Spanish restaurant and tapas bar with live music and flamenco dancing – review by Amie Brûlée

Planted firmly in the busy restaurant precinct of Armstrong Street, you can’t miss Meigas with its colourful chairs out on the footpath and Spanish music playing over the outdoor speakers. The understated wooden façade gives way to a brightly coloured and vibrant interior, transporting guests to Spain in an instant. The whole place feels so European, I almost give in to the urge to check that I have my passport with me.

I’m not the only one who appreciates the atmosphere – it’s bustling every night of the week (a rarity in Ballarat) and though you may be lucky and get a seat at the bar if you just walk in, you probably should book a table, and on the weekends a few days in advance. But don’t let its popularity turn you off – it’s a happy and comfortable busy and even with a full house you don’t have to shout at each other to talk.

The food is delicious, and begins, in true European style, as soon as you sit down. No sooner have you pulled your chair in when a dish of mixed olives arrives, drizzled with oil, to whet your appetite as you choose your tapas and drink. Or it might be a bowl of spiced almonds, which are a match made in heaven with a glass of cava.

The menu is mostly designed for sharing – small plates (but more than a nibble) ranging from bullhorn peppers with goat cheese (my favourite) to tender lamb skewers, garlic mushrooms, jamón (of course!), cheese, Spanish omelette and other delights. Or if you’d prefer a more substantial meal, try the paella or mixed grill. Every dish has one thing in common – the depth of flavours and textures. The perfectly balanced mix of spices, herbs and tomato-based sauces make every mouthful a delight, and the variety means one meal includes a whole collection of gastronomic adventures.

The wine list is equally enchanting, with a wide array of Spanish varietals and Australian wines by the glass or bottle that complement the cuisine. If wine doesn’t take your fancy, choose from the range of cocktails, Spanish spirits, beers and sangria on tap.

Whatever you do, make sure to leave room for churros and chocolate sauce and the end, or better still, go another time just for that!

Even though the food, wine and atmosphere would be enough on their own, several times a month Meigas has flamenco dancing and music. Aya from Senes Flamenco dances on the raised area at the front, and then it truly feels like you’re in a little bar in Spain. Often accompanied by a youngish guitarist, the night I saw her dance the guitarist was a gentleman well past 60, adding to the feeling that it was a little bar in Spain with local performers. Both the dance and the music are beautiful and powerful, yet unassuming at the same time. Keep an eye out for other live music acts, such as Spanish guitarists the Lewis Florez Duo playing flamenco and latin jazz.

If you fancy learning to stamp your own feet and swish your skirts, skip along to flamenco dance classes on Monday nights 8-9pm at DanceWorks in Burnbank St with Judy (tel: 0409 334 061)

Meigas
33 Armstrong St North, Ballarat, Victoria
Open Tue-Sat 12:00 – 23:00, Sun 12:00 – 16:00

Senes Flamenco perform fortnightly on Wednesdays 7:30-9:30pm.