Food and Drink
Posted by Dan Kuseta
13. Mar, 2012
The Mexican pissing contest continues with the opening of Senoritas, the latest restaurant chasing the ‘most authentic’ tag in Melbourne. The small, bustling space in Meyers Place ticks all the boxes we’ve come to expect in Mexican restaurants these days: soft shelled tacos, home made salsa and queues.
Senoritas gets a few more authenticity points for being run by Mexican ex-pat Ricardo Amare and employing Hugo Reyes in the kitchen, who worked as head chef at the Mexican Embassy in Switzerland cooking for ambassadors and other big wigs.
First of all, the space. I like it. Small and energetic with colourfully-attired wait staff ferrying large cocktails and small plates of food between jostling chairs. On the walls striking Day of the Dead artwork, crosses and skulls gaze down at diners and plates of guacamole. The booze list comes in the form of a passport. The sense of theatre is fun.
It’s also incredibly dark, and midway though our meal the lights were dimmed even further, causing diners to squint, someone to trip and the harsh neon light from the adjacent kitchen more glaring. But it’s early days.
Perhaps management will issue mining helmets moving forward.
The menu is a veritable tiki tour of Mexico, with an adventurous range covering many of that country’s regions and specialties. There’s stuff like Sopes de pato al tamarindo (a thick, handmade tortilla topped with poached duck, tamarind mole and queso fresco, $9), Ceviche a toda madre (fresh tuna ceviche with cucumber, tomato, serrano chili and coriander oil, $16) and Pozole blanco (pork broth with hominy grits, oregano, Spanish onion, lettuce, radish and lime, $12).
There’s also a tempting selection of house made salsas, sides and desserts that makes it a little hard knowing where to start. Perhaps vegetarians will find the process easier, having just two entrees, one soup and one main to choose from. Still, I was there will fellow eater and writer Nola James, who eats anything, so we got busy.
First up was the Flautus viva Mexico (two crisp-fried duck tacos with guacamole, queso fresco and dried Jamaican chilli sauce $10).
This plucky little number arrived all dolled up on a black plate, looking a treat. After trying to eat this politely with cutlery I picked it up in my paws and polished it off, chiko-roll style. The crispy taco was nice enough but tended to overwhelm the duck filling. Guacamole and the dried chilli sauce were winners though. Not a bad opening salvo.
Next dish: the Mole poblano con pollo (free range chicken breast with mole poblano, Mexican rice, refried beans and a cheese and sesame wafer, $32). I think of mole as the king of Mexican cooking, often having over 30 ingredients and being painstaking to prepare.
Chef Reyes’ mole poblano is from a family recipe and an impressive dish to behold: generous discs of chicken swimmingly in a velvety sea of mole, beans and rice. The complex flavours subtly reveal themselves over the course of the dish: the smokiness of the chillis, the sweetness of the chocolate, the yum-ness of the chicken and beans. It might be a bastard to make but it tastes bloody good.
In the midst of the mighty mole came the Senorita ensalada bonita (mixed lettuce salad of crisp friend prawn, mango, peanuts and mango vinegarette from Sinaloa, $12.5/$20).
While the mole was a hard act to follow, the combination of huge prawns, peanuts and mangoes were a nice palette cleanser to the heavier stuff.
There’s a lot to be impressed by at the newest Mexican restaurant in town (newest until next week, when Touche Hombres will open a few blocks away.) While a little on the pricey side, Senoritas brings new dishes, ingredients and flavours to the city. Plus they take bookings for half the restaurant, which hopefully means less queues.
Good news for city workers too: they’ll be opening for lunch soon.
16 Meyers Place, Melbourne
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