Friday, November 5, 2010
I love Mexican food, but Australia is notoriously bad to try and find the good stuff. Most places serve Tex Mex or Baja style, and while I do like this when it’s done well, it’s a world away from the fresh, bright flavours of real Mexican food. A bright spot on the food scene in Melbourne is Mamasita, which claims to have “no hard shell tacos, nachos or cheesy burritos, this is Mexican, real Mexican”.
On my recent trip to Melbourne I visited Mamasita for the second time. After a fabulous first visit in June, I knew I had to come back with Steve. I can tell that this will be a regular Melbourne haunt whenever I’m in town. It only opened in February this year and is already hugely popular, I’ve seen the line go down the stairs and onto the street. On a Monday at lunchtime, the restaurant was still surprisingly busy but we are seated quickly near the window.
I started with a cocktail, Margarita de Sandia that was an interesting blend of Herradura Blanco tequila, Cointreau and watermelon, served on the rocks. I think I can safely say I’m not a huge tequila fan, I found the taste overpowering. But if you are a tequila lover, you’re in the right place, with the list of tequilas on offer longer than all the other drinks combined! Steve tried a tamarind drink, which I wished I’d ordered one myself! It was quite unique but delicious and very refreshing.
I couldn’t go past Mamasita’s signature dish. The corn is grilled and covered with smoky chipotle mayonnaise and cheese, sprinkled with paprika and served with a wedge of lime. Yes, it is definitely as good as it sounds. And I have to thank my gorgeous friend Betty for recommending both the restaurant and this dish because I think I would have overlooked it with all the other delicious things on the menu. It really is a must try. The recipe has recently been in both Masterchef and Delicious magazines so I’m looking forward to making it at home.
The menu has changed a little since my last visit but I’m happy to see that my favourite grilled pork taco with pineapple and coriander is still there. I really loved the sweetness of the pineapple with the delicious pulled pork. We order one of these each, with Steve also going for the grilled fish taco with lime, achiote paste and red onion salsa, and me for the braised beef and chorizo. I didn’t try the fish but Steve said it was delicious, and I loved the tender beef.
Of course we had to try dessert, I ordered the coconut flan with prune syrup and sesame brittle. I loved the flan itself, it was smooth and creamy with just a hint of coconut, but I felt that the taste of the prune was quite overpowering. The sesame brittle was an interesting textural contrast. Steve chose the chocolate and chilli pudding with chocolate and cinnamon sorbet, which was excellent. I love chocolate and chilli together and this was no exception. The pudding was rich and slightly gooey in the middle, and the ice cream was the perfect accompaniment.
Next time I’d really like to try the Chicken Mole and the chipotle-braised goat! The wait staff were very friendly but when the restaurant is busy, they are a little hard to track down and it’s hard not to feel rushed to eat and leave when there’s a line of people waiting at the door. And as a word of warning, Mamasita doesn’t take bookings for less than 8 people, so it’s a good idea to get there early and avoid the queues.
Mamasita – Level 1, 11 Collins St, Melbourne