Well hello! Excuse my disappearance over the last little while. You see it's birthday time in my world at the moment (in addition to football mania) so I've been doing a lot of eating out in a plethora of celebrations and not much blogging.
The first birthday cab off the rank was Mr Tea's. To celebrate I hatched a cunning surprise for a mid-week mini-break in the city which included dinner at Mamasita.
This Mexican talk of the town does not take bookings for less than 8-10 people (yawn) and I don't line up, so we had a very early dinner there and walked straight in at around 5.45pm on a Tuesday. It was already packed and I think we nabbed the last two seats up at the bench table.
Our waiter only knew about 1 of the 41 tequilas on offer and it was out of stock, so we ordered Bohemia beer and a Paloma cocktail to start and perused the menu while she went and asked the bartender for some advice.
If you're looking for the cheesy-nacho version of Mexican food then don't come here. This is the real deal, simple dishes but made with quality ingredients so the flavours do the work.
We opted to try a few different things to share rather than go for the comida para la familia or main meals. For nibbles we tried the elotes callejeros, street-style corn, which was char-grilled and served with a chipotle mayonnaise and finely grated cheese (similar to these). The smoky chipotle did the trick and I found myself using my finger to smoother it all around the cob - I was eating with my hands after all. Next were the tostaditas de carnitas - corn chips topped with various ingredients and served in 4s on a wooden paddle. Ours were slow braised pork shoulder with a jalapeno slice stuffed into each one. These were the top dish of the night for me, with the pork packed full of flavour and the hot little pepper giving each mouthful just the right amount of kick.
By this stage we were on to the tequila which is served in a wine glass sans salt and lemon because they are for sipping and not for shooting. I can't tell you which ones we had which is an indication of how potent they are...
More food arrived and I think perhaps choosing two dishes that both involved soft tortillas was a bit of a mistake because they were quite similar. The tacos we tried were de pescado (fish) and frijoles con napales (black beans). The punchy pico de gallo sauce the came on the side was a must for the beans because without it they were fairly bland. The fish on the otherhand (which was blue eye) was spectacular; it was moist and the achiote paste, which is made from various ground spices, was something I'd never tried before and it had my taste buds doing a little dance.
The quesadilla we opted for was chicken, but with the two tortillas it was a little bit floury in the mouth, even though the chicken was cooked to perfection . Out of all the dishes this was the most under-whelming but still worthy of trying - just not at the same time as tacos.
I can see why there is so much hype around this food because it's fresh, flavoursome and more authentic than other versions around town and the the prices are very reasonable. We were full enough not to finish the quesadilla but didn't feel like we'd eaten an actual Mexican which is often the case with that lead-belly feeling that accompanies the usual cheese and corn chip fiesta served up by other restaurants.
The service was a bit shabby and even though I enjoyed dinner immensely I wouldn't line up for the average two hours for the chance to do it again - this no bookings malarky that is so popular in Melbourne at the moment is a bit annoying and a half/half policy I think is the perfect solution.
I am due to visit again next month for a party and when you book you are only permitted a set menu so I will be curious to see how it stacks up against the a la carte. I will of course let you know.
Happy Birthday Mr Tea! And arrrriiiiibbbba everyone else!