BIG NEWS GUYS
I actually, finally ate somewhere cool, new and trendy for once – and wasn’t the last person in the world to go there!
I booked dinner at the brand spanking new Méjico on the FIRST DAY it was open to the public – can’t get much more “with the times” than that! Pret-ty chuffed with myself.
I’d like to say I’ve been diligently monitoring new restaurant openings in Sydney like a good little food-blogger… but the truth is the only reason I knew about Méjico was because it’s right next to Hunter Connection… which means I walk past it nearly every day. So I’ve seen it go from convenience store, to construction site, to “coming soon” sign, to opening day!
The genius owners of Méjico chose a location right next door to Jamie’s Italian – meaning they offer a very convenient and attractive alternative to everyone who gets told there’s a ridiculous 45 minute wait for Jamie’s. Even our waitress, when she was telling us how they were having a great first day of business, acknowledged that capturing the spillover from Jamie’s was a massive advantage. Restauranteur tip of the day: Pick a spot next to an over-hyped, celebrity chef endorsed restaurant that doesn’t take bookings. Guaranteed success!
On walking in, you realise that Méjico is more of a bar than a restaurant. You’re greeted with the great wall of Tequila (150+ types apparently!) and the long, narrow space is filled with long group tables, smaller tables for those who want a proper meal and bar stools.
Loved the colour theme of black, oak and loud neon-pink accents
We thought we’d celebrate the restaurant’s opening night by enjoying its speciality – a bottle of Tequila !
Jokes – we all know that I’d be throwing up on the floor of a public bathroom before I even make a dent in a bottle of Tequila. No, the water is served in recycled tequila bottles (couldn’t resist the trend!) and makes all diners look like raging alcoholics.
The menu is just one page – a limited selection of simple dishes – which gave me confidence that each dish will be done very well.
Our waiter was absolutely charming – really friendly, attentive and helpful but not in a creepy overbearing way. Clearly keen to make a good impression on opening night, he gave us a well-rehearsed spiel about the restaurant and its specialities. The last time I had experienced service this lovely was in Europe – and I was paying a lot more for good service then. Of course everyone’s trying very hard on opening night, but they were also really busy and I’m sure opening night can be hectic and full of unforeseen mishaps.
It’s POSSIBLE that the high standard of service had something to do with the fact that they saw an Asian female who was very conspicuously taking photos of EVERYTHING and thought “okay, she’s either a food blogger or Instagram addict. Either way, it’s free publicity so DON’T STUFF UP.”
In any case, they were making a very earnest effort to make a good first impression to its first night diners. Which I really appreciated.
So onto the food. There was a small mortar and pestle on our table and I thought “cute centrepiece”. The waiter then informed us that this was used to make their signature Market Fresh Guacamole – right at the table ! Love dinner theatrics! So I went full paparazzi on the poor waitress who served us – wanted to capture every step!
Yeaaahhhh okay not as exciting as I thought. It’s a gimmick that doesn’t really work, for a couple of reasons:
1. Guacamole is probably the least impressive dish to prepare “live” – no dramatic flambé or teppanyaki style acrobatics – its just “watch me while I mush a few things together awkwardly with two spoons”
2. It makes it very plain to see that you’re paying $9…. for an avocado.
The finished product: guacamole with spanish onion, chilli, lime juice, coriander and pistachio. Though the show was anti-climatic, the end product was great (though when is mushed avocado not great?). The chilli added a great kick too. Scooped up with some golden plantain chips and that’s a pretty perfect starter.
The other signature dish is the Blackened corn with smoky paprika, queso fresco and parmesan ($7)….
… made on a dedicated corn grill by a dedicated corn specialist!
For mains we ordered tacos with 20-hour smoked pork belly black bean hummus and tomatillo salsa ($16).
Was disappointed at first by the size – much much smaller than the tacos I usually eat (of the Old El Paso variety) – but as soon as I took a bite there was a lot of wide-eyed, vigorous nodding trying to say “THIS IS SOOOO GOOD” to my co-diners with my mouth full. This was a very tasty, classy version of tacos with pork&beans. The creamy hummus and the smoked melt-in-your-mouth belly was a pretty killer combo – I’d definitely come back for more of these.
We also got the Achiote Chicken – which has the following cryptic menu description: “There was a time when all thought the world was flat, until someone showed it from a new perspective. Nothing was ever the same again.” I interpreted this as “This chicken is so ridiculously good that it will flip your world upside down and you will never be the same again.” So despite the allure of glazed pork ribs with polenta chips, I ordered this without hesitation.
My interpretation was wrong. What it actually meant was “We’re going to take a dish you know and love, and reinvent it. Like they do on Masterchef Professionals“. Unfortunately, I’ve never had Achiote Chicken before so I don’t know what it’s meant to be like. I’m imagining… smokey, juicy, marinated flame-grilled chicken? But this was unimpressive… like bottom-3 and one of you will be going home unimpressive. Chicken was dry and bland. The best part was the little chicken wing standing awkwardly in the corner.
Atlantic salmon ceviche – lovely coconutty flavour, but left a lot to be desired with the tiny h’orderve size. The last South American-style ceviche I ate looked like this:
So not very impressed by small heap of sashimi on cracker.
I’d rather sink my teeth into a lemon than have a pure tequila shot, but I didn’t want to leave a place with 150+ varieties without at least trying a cocktail. I realise now that the natural choice would have been a Margarita but knowing nothing about alcoholic beverages “How come everyone else gets a sombrero-shaped glass with salt on the rim?” I ordered a “Sweet desire” cocktail – delicious and totally drinkable, even for ulta-lightweights like me.
Not full at all from dinner, we ordered dessert – Agave-glazed caramel fudge with citrus mousse. Not a very well conceived dish… the mousse tasted like yoghurt or sour cream and didn’t match the sticky, sweet fudge at all. The pecans would have been much better off being dipped in caramel like a praline rather than in a nest of spun sugar which, as pretty as it looks, isn’t the easiest thing to eat.
Dessert is clearly not Méjico’s strong point, the other two desserts on the menu are a “fruit hat” comprising of… fresh fruit, and a “Chocolate shot” comprising of chocolate and tequila… in a shot glass.
While and food was hit and miss, Méjico has a great vibe – mainly thanks to the friendly service and fun splashes of neon pink everywhere. I think it strikes the bar/restaurant balance really well and its a great spot for an after-work catch up with friends. Hasta luego Méjico – I will definitely be back for pork belly tacos and margaritas!
105 Pitt Street