Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mamasita, Melbourne CBD by Ruby Grapefruit

I was very excited about going to this new restaurant and bar as I’d read some good reviews about their authentic street-style Mexican food. They don’t take bookings (except for groups of 8 to 10) so we had a 15 minute wait for a table on a Monday night. We were shown to the bar and ordered drinks while we waited. I had the Michelada which is beer with habanero hot sauce, tomato juice and fresh lime served in a salt-rimmed glass. Sounds like a strange combination but it actually works. The Negra Modelo, a dark Mexican beer, was also a big hit amongst our group.

Unfortunately my camera is not great so the photos below really don't do the food justice.

We started off with elotes callejeros which is char grilled corn on the cob with grated sheep’s cheese, chipotle (jalapeƱo chilli) mayonnaise and a squeeze of lime. Again, you would think this would be an odd combination but it all works beautifully and is very tasty.

Next we had three different types of quesadillas which are toasted tortilla sandwiches stuffed with a cheese filling. The quesadilla de queso (cheese and jalapeno sauce) was a little plain for my liking. The one with chorizo was okay but the best of the lot was the quesadilla de huitlacoche. This was filled with mushrooms, roasted corn, epazote (a herb), cheese and huitlacoche (a fungus that grows on corn). The strong, earthy mushroom flavour was amazing.

Next up were the tostaditas which are bit-sized discs of toasted corn tortillas with generous toppings. We had two types - char grilled chickedn and carnitas (shredded slow braised pork)--both were excellent and full of flavour.

I was keen to try ceviche so we ordered the ceviche ‘leche de tigre’. This arrived in a glass with thinly sliced pieces of octopus and shrimp cured in lime (and lemon?) juice and served with green chilli, coriander and corn chips. I really enjoyed it and am inspired to give it a try at home.

We also had the Ensalada de Nopales which is a salad containing cactus, red peppers, green beans, queso fresco (cheese) and lime juice. The pickled cactus (probably canned or tinned) had a soft texture so it was good to have the firm green beans to balance the salad.

By this stage we were already full but we still had the tacos de pescado to come. These were delicious and the first time I’d had fish in a taco. With grilled pieces of fish, achiote (annatto seed) paste and red onion salsa it was a fresh and light alternative to your usual taco filling.

Did I mention that we were already full? Well that didn’t stop us from ordering a serve of the chocolate ice cream to share. Chocolate originated in Mexico so how could we resist? We were served two generous mounds of chocolate ice cream with a hint of cinnamon and topped with shards of chilli infused toffee. Very rich and delicious.

Most of our dishes had chilli but none of them were overly hot. The waiter brings hot sauce to the table if you want to add extra heat to your food.

The other plus is that all their food is gluten free.

The service was great. The staff were friendly, efficient and happy to explain the menu and make recommendations.

The ambience was fun as the restaurant has obviously created quite a buzz in Melbourne. However, with the full house and loud music it did get a little noisy.

The price was surprisingly good. Our group of four paid about $45 each which included on average about two beers each.

This was an amazing culinary experience as we had the opportunity to try for the first time some very interesting ingredients and new dishes. I’ll definitely be back again and look forward to trying some of the mains and having some of my favourites again.

Ambience - 8
Service - 9
Food - 9
Price - 7

Level 1, 11 Collins St
Ph: (03) 9650 3821

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

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