Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mamasita, Melbourne

I feel like shouting 'ma-ma for Mamasita'!  Why?  Because I have finally found a place which serves delicious Mexican food, albeit with a modern twist.  And more importantly, without the usual mounds of guacomole and sour cream that is so commonfold of Mexican eateries.

My partner and I arrived early this Saturday evening; five-thirty to be precise.  Thinking that we might have to find somewhere for a quick drink, we rocked up only to see a small queue of people outside the doorway to Mamasita.  If people were queuing now, we thought we ought to join it. Having never queued half an hour for restaurant before, I was intrigued to see how good the food would be and whether the wait would be worth it.

As the clock struck six, the doors opened and the queue (which had now tripled in size) started to file up the stairs.  We were pleasantly greeted and taken to sit by the window.  The restaurant is light and airy, with an open kitchen at the end and a bar with stools for waiting punters.

The menu is split into starters, ceviche, tostaditas (fried tortillas with toppings), tacos, quesadillas, ensaladas and mains (described as comida para la familia - food for the family).  Oh and not forgetting sides and dessert.

Having never eaten here before, the waitress recommended for us to go through the sharing dishes which is akin to the Spanish tapas way of eating.

We decided to opt for the 'Ceviche de Yucatan' ($13) which comes either as a single in a shot glass or a large as we had ordered.  Described as market fish with green tomato, chilli, mint, lime and coconut milk, it sounded a little Thai influenced.  It came in a stemless looking wine glass with five crispy tortilla chips poking out of the top of it. 

The fish pieces were lovely and tender as one would expect from marinated raw fish.  The marinade was fresh and tasty and the tortillas were deliciously crispy. 

Next came the 'Elotes callejeros' ($4.40 each), described as street style chargrilled corn with cheese, chipotle mayo and a wedge of lime.  The corn was super sweet and tasted absolutely devine.  It wasn't drenched in butter which made for a refreshing change.  If you love corn, then you'll love these. 

Next up, the tostaditas 'de carnitas' ($14) - slow braised pork shoulder with pickles and jalapeños.  These crispy tostaditas were served on a bed of shredded red cabbage, all lined up on a wooden board.  The pork was tasty in every way and these bite sized pieces were just right.

The tacos 'de pescado' ($6 each) - grilled fish with achiote paste and red onion salsa with a wedge of lime.  Achiote paste originated from the Yucatán region of Mexico; using annato seeds and a combination of other spices, it is used in a variety of Mexican dishes. 

These wonderfully soft tacos were packed full of flavour and we both loved this dish!

We also ordered chicken quesadillas ($14).  It was served with a side condiment of 'pico de gallo', which had finely chopped pieces of cucumber, red onion, celery and coriander.  Although good, this quesadillas didn't blow our taste buds away.  It was a sort of take it or leave it kind of dish. 

The final dish to come out was the quinoa salad ($15).  This was a superb.  It was fresh, tasty and wonderfully light.  I had no trouble in polishing it all off and it has to be one of the top salads that I have eaten in quite a while.

Despite having eaten rather a lot, I was surprised to find myself with enough room for dessert.  I decided to go for the 'Tortilla de chilli chocolate' ($12).  Chocolate and chilli pudding (which was steamed) with chocolate and cinammon sorbet. 

The pudding had a real kick of chilli.  Probably a little more than I would have liked as I found it quite dry on the mouth without a spoonful of sorbet to go with it.  The sorbet was perfectly balanced with the cinnamon and wonderfully refreshing.  I'm not sure I'd have the pudding again, but for those who love the chilli and chocolate combination, then this may well be a winner.

The staff here are knowledgeable, the funky soul music provides a laid back ambience to the place which is informal, relaxing and just a great place to come eat some 'comida deliciosa'.

The place was buzzing tonight and the queue was, well still queuing when we left at 8pm.   With a no bookings policy (except for groups of 10 or more), if you're not one for having to queue and wait for long periods of time, I suggest getting here fairly early before opening time to guarantee a spot right away when the doors open.

1/11 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3001
Tel: +61 (0)3 9650 3821

Mon-Wed: 12pm-12am
Thu: 12pm- 12:30am
Fri: 12pm-2am
Sat: 6pm-2am

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