Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fonda Mexican, Richmond by Big Fil

There is probably one thing I should make clear right from the start. I have a particular view about street food which doesn’t sit terribly well with some of the popular establishments around town. To me street food’s essence is that it should be quick, convenient, tasty and cheap, suitable for eating either walking along or seated next to the road. It doesn’t need to be fancy or made with the highest quality ingredients. If that’s what I want I’d probably have a different style of food in mind. After all it’s street food right, made to be cooked and eaten on the street. Consequently when someone takes street or at least street style food and moves it to a restaurant setting it doesn’t necessarily sit well with me.

That’s not to say I can’t appreciate some of the places that have sprung up around Melbourne in the last few years. It’s just that I have a preconception about what that style of food should be like which isn’t necessarily what they are trying to achieve. I don’t want it to beautifully ‘plated’, I don’t want it to be somewhere I need to wait two hours to be fed and most of all I don’t want it to be somewhere full of suits – street food is the peoples’ food.

Consequently even when I have liked the food and setting I haven’t necessarily really enjoyed myself at a couple of the most popular places going at the moment. To be honest I don’t think Fonda Mexican is the best of the ‘new wave’ Mexican places around town, in fact I don’t think anyone would really make that claim. What it is though is the place that I enjoyed myself the most, the place which went closest to that street food essence.

It’s probably helped in this regard by the bright, casual and comfortable nature of the cafĂ©. Big windows, white painted walls and ceilings, weird metallic chandelier hanging from the ceiling and colourful chairs, Fonda Mexican has certainly got personality. A fairly short menu too, a handful of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to complement or be complemented by burritos, quesadillas, tacos and a few bar snacks.

As both of us that day are fans of most things pork related, one of the things which we had to sample was the pork scratchings. This are made from the skin of the pig, like pork crackling, but are cooked till most of the fat is gone and they have puffed up. This gives them a different texture to crackling, when you bite into them they don’t snap or crackle but pop. Teamed with a generous serve of guacamole with a decent citrus punch they make good beer food, things to munch on while drinking.

Given how good the charred corn had been at Mamasita I was keen to try it here too. Served with chipotle aioli, ricotta shavings and a small slice of lime, I didn’t really notice the aioli but a small squeeze of the lime gave it a good zing.

For ease of sharing, and based on reports from other bloggers, we ordered the fish and beef brisket tacos as our main dishes. While consensus seems to be that the fish tacos are the better I preferred the beef. This could be related to slow cooked beef brisket being one of my favourite things in the world. Generous without being over filled and awkward to handle, tender enough to pull apart, my kind of fast food. In contrast I found the fish tacos a bit over filled with vegetable, resulting in a tacos that was a bit hard to handle with one hand and an overly runny sauce.

Getting there around 12 meant that we almost had the place to ourselves for a while and I found our lunch here quick and tasty, reasonably priced if not cheap and the staff friendly. Most importantly it was fun, one of the keys to me enjoying this style of food. Don’t get overly fancy, don’t get overly complicated, just serve wholesome fresh tasting food. It’s never going to be my favourite place, I guess I’m just more kopitiam than cantina, but I’d be more than happy to return.

Food – 8
Service – 7.5
Ambience – 7.5
Price – 6.5

248 Swan Street
Richmond VIC 3121
Tel: (03) 9429 0085

Fonda Mexican on Urbanspoon


Bureaucrat said...

shaved ricotta - how intriguing. can one even shave ricotta?

Anonymous said...

I looked it up afterwards what it actually was, it just appeared to be shavings at the time. On the menu it's described as Ricotta salata, which further research indicated is pressed dried ricotta which can apparently be grated or shaved. Thinking back grated would probably have been more accurate that shaved.


ming said...

I recently went to Fonda Mexican too; how messy and juicy were the tacos! Shame you didn't try the horchata, it was absolutely amazing! Great review, as always :)

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