Monday, June 10, 2013

Touche Hombre, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

At my office, we're all a bunch of aspiring foodies.  We like finding and trying out new places, and getting a thrill when we do find somewhere that's great in terms food, price and quality.

So far, we've been pretty lucky - most places we go, we end up liking.  However, there is one place that we have talked about a lot... and for this particular eatery, this isn't a good thing, as many of us have shared our visit to those who are willing to listen to stay away from this eatery.  The story that follows here, recounts our visit to Touche Hombre - a true story.

Guacamole w toasted peptias, pomegranate, queso fresco and tortilla chips

For Ms A's farewell, we picked Touche Hombre as the place for lunch. Since opening (sometime last year, I think), I've read some very negative reviews of the place.  Mostly, the negs were about the serving size and the price.  Because of that, I didn't include TH as a place that I must try on my 'to eat' list.  So with the echoes of the previously outraged patrons, I came to TH with low expectations. Even with this low expectation, I (and others) still could not believe how outrageously over-priced TH is (but I'm getting ahead of myself).

Anyhoo, arriving at TH, it was slightly promising.  Inside, it's got this grungy, Western saloon sort of feel to the place - it's intriguing and you want to sit down and check out the place.

As we were a large group, we got seated at the big booth at the back.  It's not the most comfortable of tables/chairs, as the seats were fixed, and the table was located a bit far from the seat so  we had to lean forward to eat.

Would you like some boobs with your tacos?

Our waiter came up and gave us our menus.  An interesting fellow, but god, he smacked of effort.  After welcoming us to TH, he proclaimed that the food here at TH is proper Mexican food, and not, and I quote, the "shit" that other so-called Mexican eateries dish out.  I rolled my eyes at his attempt to sound edgy and real... it was kinda hard to take him seriously as a Mexican food connoisseur when the guy has a strong Irish accent.

I asked him how many dishes should each person order.  He recommended that we order 2-4 dishes per person, and that one dish would essentially be an entree (even for the larger sized dishes).  It was at this point that the pennies dropped (literally and figuratively) for everyone at the table.  Given the prices, each person was potentially facing $18-$40 spend for lunch (not including drinks).

Now, I don't mind spending (a lot) of money for a dining experience.  My only caveat is that the food/service/quality/ambience had bloody be better worth it, or that the eatery can offer something that none of its competitors can do.  But here, at Touche Hombre, it's not offering anything new or wonderful; and certainly, I know I can fork out $40 for an upmarket 2 course meal w drinks in the city, and I was highly sceptical that TH can offer something that would make me feel like I've gotten value out of eating here (but I'm getting ahead of myself again).

So, after carefully perusing the menu, I picked two dishes that wasn't the most or least expensive and hoped to god that I'd at least be satisfied (either by the quality or the quantity of the food) by the end of the meal.  Likewise, everyone did the same.

There was a bit of wait before the food came out.  Given that the entrees were mostly cold dishes, I don't know why it took so long to come out.  The following are some of the dishes that we ordered.

Grilled corn, alba pecorino and chilli pequin - $7 (there's two serves shown here).  Both Mr H and Ms W said that they were good, although, Mr H didn't think his two short stumps of corn was worth $7 (given how cheaply you can buy corn cobs from the market), while Ms W said that the corn at Mamasita's are way better.

Guacamole w toasted peptias, pomegranate, queso fresco and tortilla chips - $8 (see first pic)

Tostada de atun. Yellowfin tuna, mango, cucumber toasted sesame and chipotle mayo - $12.  We all had a chuckle at this dish.  Ms B had ordered this as her only item for lunch.  Given that it had arrived as an entree, Ms B had fun by slowly eating this tiny tostada while we waited for our main dishes to arrive.  While it was good, it was tiny.

I got the tostada puplo.  Chargrilled octopus, crab claw, spring onion, cilatnro and pico de gallo - $13.  Now, first of all, for $13 I expected more than one tiny tostada - serve two of them, or make the serving size bigger.  The good points were that the seafood was very fresh.  The octopus was tender, the crab meat was succulent.

On to the "mains".

I got the tacos de pollo.  Chimichurri chicken, queso fresco and toasted pepitas - $9.  A nice grilled chunk of chicken with a smoky flavour.  It says that it's a main dish, but honestly, it's an entree.

Quesadilla de seta y hiutlacoche.  Wild mushrooms, ricotta, pecorino, mint, salsa verde, creme fraiche - $14. Now this was an outrage for Mr H.  The total amount of mushroom here would not equal one whole flat mushroom.  Fourteen bucks for (at most) half a mushroom.

I didn't take any more photos of the main dishes, as I didn't want to stop people from having their lunch (given that some of us would have waited a long time for their food as they didn't order entrees).

A few of us got desserts. Perhaps the most generous sized dish of the day (for both the savoury and sweet dishes) was the peanut butter parfait w choc-chilli cookie - $9 (two serves shown here).  Those that ordered said it was pretty good - rich, creamy and peanutty with a morish biscuit.

Food – 7
Ambience – 7
Service – 6.5
Price – 4

It's almost an over-riding ethos here at Touche Hombre that small is better, and over-priced is best. The food here are like glorified hors d'oeuvres.  You can't compare what TH is trying to do with, say, the Chinese yum cha or Spanish tapas.  While all three offer small sharing plates, the difference is the price.  Most of the yum cha and tapas dishes are under $10, which makes it easier on the hip pocket.

For street food, the prices here are ridiculously expensive.  If TH was serving up nouvelle or upmarket food and dining experince, then maybe, the price would be okay - except that it is not.  What TH is offering is (at best) middle range dining experince with fine dining prices.

I was still very hungry by the end of the meal, and a few of us had to get some extra food elsewhere.

All I can say about Touche Hombre is that you should believe the reviews - the serves are small and the price is expensive.... 'nuff said.

Touche Hombre
Cnr Tattersalls Lane & Lonsdale St
Melbourne 3000
Telephone: 9663 0811

Touché Hombre on Urbanspoon

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