New Mexican kid on the block… Touché Hombre

Touché Hombre is the new Mexican kid on the block in the Melbourne CBD.  Everytime I walked past the place – it was heaving.  It made me wonder if it was better or even as good as than that other Mexican kid… further up on the Bourke Street hill.  There was only one way to know…. So the next time the T-bird wanted to get together for dinner – I suggested Touché Hombre.

Dreadfully concerned that it would get packed out, I pushed the issue and told Miss T to turn up at 5:30pm.  She was running late – so I sat in the empty restaurant, at the gorgeous bar,  waiting for her to arrive.  Turns out – I didn’t have to be so alarmist – the place did fill up – but not until about 6:30pm.

La Paloma
Tromba Bianco, fresh pink grapefruit, organic agave nectar, a Mexican pinch of salt, charged with Toronja soda. Served tall like Andre.  $19.50

Tastes like a soother… yeah… the cough lolly.

We sat down at the very odd, and dare I say it, slightly uncomfortable chairs that looked like they had been found at a junk yard.  How very retro.  We ordered a couple of cocktails and decided what to eat. We started with a dish that could act as a bit of a litmus test… corn on the cob….

Ellotes Callejeros  $6 ea
Grilled corn, cilantro, lime zest & chipotle butter

And now for the true test – would the corn be as good as Mamasita??  Alas, no – it fell significantly short.  It just didn’t have the zing and punch of the Mamasita corn.  It did not bode well.

Ceviche de pescado  $12
Diced white fish, mussels, cilantro, chilli, red onion, tomato & guacamole with corn chips

And now for something fresh – we ordered the ceviche. Again, not as brilliant as the one I remember at Mamasita – but it was fresh and the avocado was beautiful and creamy.  One of the better dishes.

Pato a pato  $27
Twice cooked duck, cabbage, ruby grapefruit, mint & pickled chilli

Once I mentioned duck – there was no further negotiations for the T-bird.  Duck we had to have. When it arrived, I realised that Platos de Compartir must mean something about how you have to put it all together yourself.  Anyhoo….. once we pulled all the meat off the bone, and assembled our tortilla – I have to admit they were very good.  In retrospect – we could have done with another tortilla each and stretched it out to three – but hey.  We made do with what we’d been given.

Taco de carne  $6.5
Beef meatballs, Egmont cheese, jalapeños & tortilla crumble

Being committed to doing the full gamut of research (for you dear reader, the things I do), we decided to order a couple of tacos to share.  One soft, and one hard – it was a bit of a logistical effort to split them – but we did alright.  The meatball taco has about 3 ½ teaspoon sized meatballs – it seemed a little stingy.  Of course you can’t see them in this photo –they’re hiding under all the cabbage!

Taco de Rabo de Toro $7
Braised oxtail and caramelised pumpkin in hard shell tortilla

This taco was actually gorgeous – I think we could have easily polished off one of these each.  The oxtail had been braised down beautifully and was swimming in a gorgeous, rich gravy.  The sweetness of the pumpkin melded really well with the beef. Delicious.

Ice Cream Sangas  $7 ea
Rice Pudding (Caramel & rice pudding parfait, cinnamon sugar)
Dulce de leche (Strawberry parfait, pistachio & dulce de leche)

Touché Hombre has very limited dessert offerings.   I got excited when I saw rice pudding,  but then I realised it came in an ice cream sanga format.  Hmmm….  Again, in the interests of research, T-bird (who is as committed to research as I am) and I ordered one each.  Our joint findings… they were alright – but they were really a bit of sweet nothingness.  You certainly wouldn’t rate them up there with a Monaco bar.

In wiktionary, touché is defined as an acknowledgement of the success, appropriateness or superiority of an argument or discussion; sometimes used sarcastically to mock one’s opponent’s absurd logic.  I’m not sure what the context is here… but this place is certainly nowhere near being superior to that other Mexican place.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s good food, and the place was pumping loudly and packed out by the time we left.  In fact, there were people fervently using the power of their minds and an unrelenting gaze to will us out of our seats when we finally got up – they must have been Jedis looking for some taco goodness. 

To me, Touché Hombre is a bit of a consolation prize – it’s got a good vibe (in a very loud, dark, bar kind of way) and the food is OK.  However, while any prize is a good thing, it smarts a little when you know you missed out on the better prize up the hill (even if you didn’t have to wait for a table).  Touché!

Touché Hombre on Urbanspoon