Monday, July 22, 2013

Mejico, Sydney

I was lucky enough to be taken for a business lunch today to Mejico.

I knew next to nothing about Mejico before we arrived – other than that a fellow food reviewer had been earlier in the year and raved about the guacamole, which is made at the table, and that the restaurant is next to Jamie’s Italian.

We arrived at 12:15pm to an almost empty restaurant and were seated immediately.

Service was fast, friendly and unobtrusive. We were advised to that the house specialties were the guacamole and the blackened corn, so we ordered both. Unfortunately the corn order never seemed to have been placed, but the guacamole was worth the hype.

In particular the lime and sugar that was added cut through the fattiness of the avocado and the freshness was a sign of what to expect from the rest of the meal. The accompanying plantain chips had a colleague reminiscing about her days living in the Caribbean.

One of my dining companions had eaten at Mejico before and recommended the mocktails. Each mocktail includes chia seeds and I saw it as an opportunity to make friends with the protein-packed super food whose appeal, so far, had eluded me. When I’ve soaked chia seeds in coconut water in the past, the slimy membrane around each seed had put me off. Here, in the ‘white nectar’ cocktail a few of us ordered, the chia seeds had a consistency like the bubble teas that are popular in Chinatown. This white delight really did taste like nectar of the gods and my romance with the chia seed was reignited.

We ordered each of the tacos: pork belly, lamb shoulder and salmon. Palm-sized flour tortillas became serving vessels for the succulent meats. Only the lamb shoulder disappointed. The guacamole was a flavour medley, but in the lamb taco the seasonings struggled to sing out amongst the generous serving of meat. 

Ceviche reminds me of lazy days spent on Isle de Mujeres. Here mounds of fresh raw fish danced a happy tango amongst the chilli and lime seasonings in the salmon or kingfish served on tostadas.

For the main course we ordered the achiote chicken and the sirloin steak. I was keen to try quinoa in a restaurant as to date I’d only had the quinoa I’d made with great success at home. The quinoa served with the steak was no different to that which I have made at home, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The green chimichurri sauce lacked punch but the steak, served medium, had a texture I most certainly could not replicate at home.

The salt and pepper grinders on each table had me enthralled in an ADHD-like trance – a single press of the thumb producing a fine grind of seasoning. 

For dessert we chose from a menu of three, and went for the fudge served with walnuts and a citrus cream. A fellow diner commented that if someone only bought caramel slice for the caramel, they would be in heaven with this dessert. The servings were just the right size to finish off the meal.

At the end of our lunch we were full, but not bursting, testament to the mounds of protein and vegetable accompaniments.

The fit out at Mejico is industrial with splashes of neon pink. It felt like being in the hippest restaurant in Mexico City – a city filled with modern art, ancient pyramids and a new wave of reinterpreting traditional recipes. It was surprisingly not too loud – a key factor in an enjoyable lunch. 

We finished with coffees. A chai latte was ordered but we were told that chai was temporarily off the menu – last week a complaint had been received about the chai and until the Mejico team are happy again with what they offer, it would not be on offer. We all liked the idea that Mejico would not sell anything they didn’t drink themselves.

This same fair approach underpins Mejico’s philosophy. Dr Sam Prince is the owner, a medical doctor, humanitarian and a philanthropist. He’s currently working on a project called ‘One disease at a time’ in which he is looking to eliminate scabies from the Australian Aboriginal population. You can view his TEDx talk here.

The bill came to less than $50 per person – we all agreed it was very good value for money.

Mejico is a place I would take colleagues for a lunch, or the girls for a glass of wine and a few tacos. There were less kind reviews in SMH and the Telegraph earlier in the year, but we all thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. When it’s my turn to choose somewhere for a business lunch I’d include Mejico in my top five options at the moment. 

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