My (not so) Mexican Cousin
My Mexican Cousin
Cnr Sturt Street & Southbank Blvd
Southbank VIC 3006
03 9686 3389
Open: Mon – Fri 7am – late; Sat 8am – late
Good friend Bubblezz and I were invited to join old colleague Waz for lunch one day, and he suggested going to My Mexican Cousin. This seemed to be very close to his work (and very convenient for him) - so I was immediately suspicious that other agendas were at work. However, Waz would never actually lead anyone astray when it comes to food and wine – as he is a great partaker of the good things in life! So, it was that we found ourselves at the very cubist Melbourne Recital Centre – where My Mexican Cousin has its home.
The first thing that needed to be resolved was the fact that the restaurant is not Mexican at all, but Creole. Apparently, as part of the St Ali group, My Mexican Cousin is actually named after one of the original breakfast dishes on the St Ali menu. They must get the question a lot – because it’s typed up on their explanatory notes.
The ambience of the venue is actually quite beautiful. Being a little away from the madding crowd of the CBD means that it wasn’t full to the rafters, and was pleasantly easy-going. The fittings are basic, yet funky and there’s lots of attention to detail. Such as this beautiful plate – how gorgeous is that?
We quickly decided to order a couple of entrées and three mains to share. The whole menu looked promising – so it was difficult to choose.
WOW! This was the dish of the day for me. So fresh and beautiful – the scallops were tender and luscious, bursting with the flavours of the chilli, coriander and lime marinade. Artfully strewn with snow pea tendrils it was, quite simply, melt in the mouth goodness. I could eat numerous serves of this one – my only complaint – two scallops is just not enough. But at $8 per serve, you can easily get another set!
Another great appetiser – these were pork and rice fritters, lusciously seasoned with Creole spices and served with the creamiest, smoothest paprika remoulade. Eagerly devoured by the three of us. Five is a tricky number – but somehow we managed to split things up evenly! Delicious.
Apparently a “blaff” is a method of preparing fish from the island of Martinique, using a marinade of limejuice, garlic and hot peppers. The fish was a beautiful, clean dish – very light, but with an incredible amount of flavour. It was also served with baby spinach, carrots and onions in a West Indian broth. Sensational!
This dish was amazing – sausage, chicken and rice meltingly braised in a rich sauce. It was tender and full of flavour, yet mellow and creamy at the same time. A gentleman came in and sat behind us – and it was all he ordered! He must have been a fan – because he enthusiastically told the couple next to him all about it. Out of all the mains – this was probably my favourite (although everything was good). This is simple, humble comfort food at its best. Delicious!
Now, I have a confession to make here – I had hoed into this dish so quickly, that I forgot to take a photo – so this is the “deconstructed” look. The original looks much classier!! But there was a reason that I ripped into it so quickly – it was absolutely melt in the mouth!! And I could tell just by looking at it. Beautifully presented on the bone, I thought we had been dealt a logistical challenge – however, it basically just fell apart – leaving the bone clean – it was so tender. Served with a spiced red cabbage slaw and red wine jus – it was staggeringly good! I understand that there have been problems with service, but on the day we went – it was fine. Perhaps because it was a non-performance day, and a Monday lunch as well (never the busiest of days).
All I can say is that I’m impressed – My Mexican Cousin does great Creole food. I do acknowledge the battle of words that have gone on over its authenticity of the dishes – but I’m not so worried about it, because the food was great. Lovingly prepared, each dish was a triumph of flavourful cooking that makes me want to go back for more. And that, I say, is the measure of a good restaurant. I’m even wondering what recital I can take in at the Centre – just so I have an excuse to get there again (if only to try the legendary praline bacon)! So, pay no heed to Larissa – Take the detour to the south side… it’s worth it!