Monday, November 18, 2013

Tacos, down Mexico Food & Liquor way

It's pretty impressive that in the space of just a few of years, a craving for tacos can now elicit a number of Mexican restaurant suggestions in most inner Sydney suburbs. I remember a time when I only knew one venue – a dingy space in Kingsford – but choice is aplenty now.

Tequila at Mexico Food & Liquor, Randle Street, Surry Hills
It was an interesting decision to morph what was previously chef Warren Turnbull's already 'casual' District Dining in Surry Hills into the more casual Mexico Food & Liquor, but the decision has proved worthwhile, with nightly crowds packing into the lavishly decked out Mexican venue.

No wall is free of Mexican paraphernalia: from wrestling masks to vintage photos, which really works in getting patrons into a tequila state of mind. On that, there's a crazily extensive menu of 100% agave tequila with pages of bottle pictures in each Blanco, Reposado and Añejo categories.

We sampled a clear Reposado straight, which warmed rather than burned with sweet vanilla top notes.

Queso fundido with broccolini, black olive powder, corn bread
On food, we started with a tempting-sounding cheese fondue: a shallow dish of a pale melted cheese mix sprinkled with a savoury powder of black olives and served with lightly-cooked broccolini and a very moist, crumbly corn bread.

Our waiter also recommended an additional side of soft tortillas for dipping, noting that the broccolini and corn bread were never enough to mop up the somewhat bland, watery cheese mix.

Pickled vegetables
I like how Sydney restaurants are embracing pickles as they’re great appetisers, healthy and quite fun in their diversity.

The stout glass jar here was stuffed full with cauliflower, large chillies red and green with some bite, beans and carrot sticks – all crisply pickled in a just-tart enough pickling mix.

Pork, fish and beef tacos
There are main dish options on the menu, but we were down this way for the tacos. I was most looking forward to the pan fried fish taco, served as a mostly boneless fillet with a gribiche sauce, spicy chipotle mayonnaise and a red cabbage coleslaw – the latter being the perfect vegetable addition to every taco, I think.

The slightly chewy beef skirt steak had the most fantastic char flavour, complemented with a zingy salsa and fried onions.

Braised pork belly with pomegranate, spiced cabbage, sesame
Not to be outdone, the pork belly taco featured a fabulous Korean-style kimchi salad of very spicy cabbage and sesame seeds, with pomegranate for sweetness to combat the heat. The sticky, sweet and tender pork belly was worthy of being its own featured dish.

Chocolate, orange & pink peppercorn mousse, Abuela’s sweet biscuit
For a shared dessert we opted for the chocolate and orange mousse which was topped with more whole pink peppercorns than we could pick off.

The mousse itself was a light, airy rendition with good citrus flavour, though completely overpowered and even jarring whenever one of the many peppercorns got in the way every mouthful.

While the extensive tequila menu is all 100% Mexican, the food at Mexico Food & Liquor seems to have more of a modern and perhaps Australian fusion touch to it, but it's more than made up for with the decor and fantastic fiesta atmosphere. And as for for some great tacos, do come south of the CBD, down Mexico way.

Mexico Food and Liquor on Urbanspoon


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

The chocolate mousse sounds intriguing but lol I think someone did get a little carried away with the peppercorn garnish!

john | heneedsfood said...

Before I even read your words about the pink peppercorns, I looked at the photo and thought I'd be picking off about two thirds of them. Too much!
To be honest, I'm still a bit apprehensive about the Mexican food in Sydney. I always expect the stuff I had in Mexico, or at a push, the Mexican food in America that's just as good. Not that all Mexican in America is good!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hehe I think I know that Mexican restaurant you are referring to! It's great how we have so much choice nowadays :)

Mr C @ The Food Diary said...

Held my birthday here with family, great tacos and quesadillas!

Sherrie Huang said...

Really loved the ribs and quesadilla I had here last time!

Tina said...

Hi Helen - I hope it was just that and not how it's normally served. Even then, a cruel joke...

Hi John - Try picking off all of them! I know no better than Mexican food in Sydney, but this wasn't a favourite, unfortunately.

Hi Lorraine - Yeah, I'm not sure if it's still there or not...! :)

Hi Mr C - Mmn, I was tempted by the quesadilla... next time.

Hi Sherrie - Another vote for the cheesey tortilla; definitely next time!


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