Sunday, August 29, 2010

Los Amates, Fitzroy by Big Fil

With all the different cuisine and restaurant options available around Melbourne, one thing often said is how few 'real' Mexican restaurants there are. I must admit, if someone put two bowls of corn chips and beans in front of me and told me one was authentic Mexican and the other 'Tex-Mex' I'd be hard put to give a reasoned argument as to which was which. Los Amates is often billed as one of the most 'authentic' Mexican restaurants in Melbourne so I was looking forward to learning more about this style of food (as well as indulging in some good food).

The front room of Los Amates is bright and colourful, with a large Mexican flag behind the well stocked bar. While the seating and tables were fairly basic and the room a bit noisy, when combined with the very friendly and helpful staff it gave the place a very welcoming feel.

We ordered two entrees to share between us, the nachos and the pork crackling with guacamole. The highlight of both of these dishes was the guacamole. "Ms Watching Her Calories, recently returned from the US and a big fan of Mexican (and Caribbean) food" (also known as Ms Watching Her Calories) declared it good, the best she's had outside the US. The Nachos also didn't fall into the common failing of feeling like it had been overloaded with cheap cheese to bulk it out.

The pork crackling wasn't quite like I expected, light and puffed up rather than crispy pork skin with a thin layer of fat. While this probably made it better for scooping up the guacamole it caused it to lose some of its flavour.

For mains we tried the Tacos de lengua (tongue), Pollo con mole poblano (Chicken with poblano sauce?) and the Albondigas al Chipotle (Meatballs with chipotle and tomato salsa). The dishes looked more attractive than my photos - but unfortunately they were a bit dark and with the lighting levels being moderate rather than bright my camera struggled to take clear shots. The tongue came in a small bowl with the mildly spicy sauce served on the side and half a dozen or so soft shelled tacos. I quite liked this, as did Ms L who had apparently been asking to try tongue for a while. It is a fairly strong tasting meat though and may not be for everyone.

I had never tried mole before. Almost black in colour, it looked a much thicker sauce than it turned out to be. It also obviously had a number of different spices and other flavourings running through it, including chocolate (which I like adding to stews myself to give them a deeper, richer flavour). It's kind of hard to describe the flavour of the mole because it was so unfamiliar, other than it is rich and mildly spicy in a smoky kind of way with a sweet undertone. Iron Man noted that it was more chocolatey and sweeter than mole he had tried in the US. The chicken was nicely tender and matched with the sauce well.

While I tried the meatballs they didn't make much of an impression on me. While they were among the better ones I've had, moist and meaty, they didn't have the novelty appeal the mole did. As with the chicken mole, the photo doesn't really do the dish though, with the meatballs under the salsa constituting a fairly colourful dish.

For dessert we tried the Flan de la Casa and the Pastel de Elate. The flan is basically a solid dish custard served with strawberries and cream. Good but not spectacularly so.

On the other hand the pastel de elate (Mexican corn pie) was very good, tasting like sticky date pudding without the sauce.

Nice food, good service, welcoming atmosphere with super friendly staff. My only real negatives are that the mains took a while to come out and it was a little pricey (but not unreasonable). Another place that wouldn't be my choice for everyday eating but which I would happily go to for special occasions.

Food - 8
Service - 7.5
Ambience - 7.5
Price - 6.5

34 Johnston Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Tel: (03) 9417 0441

Los Amates on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...