SeñoritasJanuary 13, 2013
I recently went out to dinner with the group of people I interned with last summer – it was great that all eight of us could make it, even though H originally went to Mamasita thinking we had a booking there (“Nat, seriously, I’m here at Mamasita with the door guy and there’s no booking under your name!”).
I suppose H hearing the word “mexican” and immediately assuming “Mamasita” is as much testament to Mamasita’s role in Melbourne’s love affair with Mexican food, as much as it is evidence of the interchangeability of all these new Mexican joints.
I mean, let’s face it, there are very broad similarities between all new Mexican restaurants, and it’s more than the fact that they have tacos. Mamasita, Touche Hombre, Fonda and Newmarket all succeed based on the powerful triumvirate of beats, tequila and Mexican food. You also have to queue up for most of them, fuelling the irrational belief that if something’s popular, it damn well must be good.
Señoritas is broadly in line with the places I just mentioned, but I think it’s slightly more upmarket, you can make bookings (hooray!!), and the food is a little more refined. The restaurant isn’t very big, and they’ve got a colourful, almost creepy day-of-the-dead theme going on. They also had some crazy light shades that made me think of coral and reminded me of brilliant glass artist Dale Chihuly.
The boys really enjoyed the beer suggested by the waitress (service was friendly and knowledgeable), and I loved the margaritas the barman was putting up – very smooth.
The menu is excellent – I liked the sound of a couple of the larger dishes but because there were eight of us it was much easier to stick to the smaller dishes that are good for sharing. The staff were all too happy to organise for halve serves so that everyone got a piece of each dish – something a lot of restaurants are, unfortunately, loath to do.
We also ordered a lot of fish but their menu is quite heavy on the seafood which was great to see. First up was a refreshing plate of aguechile vuelve a la vida – kingfish and scallops lightly cured in lime juice, habanero chilli, red onion and cucumber. Without wanting to sound like a snob, I love me a good ceviche, especially scallops, and this was up there with some of the best.
A beautiful and well balanced dish of pulpo y atun (octopus and tuna) marinated in chilli, coriander and parsley and served with some soft tacos and lime was my favourite from the evening.
The fishy themed continued with some tacos de pescado, served with piquillo peppers and a spicy corn salsa. I found most of the food here to be mildly spiced, which was perfect because it meant you could enjoy and appreciate the more subtler flavours of the spices and herbs.
I was talking with a colleague recently about how Chin Chin tends to overwhelm all their dishes with lots of chilli or lime or fish sauce or coriander or whatever spice or herb is featuring. There’s something to be said for balance and subtlety in a dish.
We ended on another high, the tacos al pastor, soft pieces of pork slapped with a bit of guajillo chilli marinade, a flamed peanut arbol salsa and topped with pineapple pico de gallo. Sen-bloody-sational.
I rate the food at Señoritas very highly, probably the best Mexican in Melbourne or at least tied with Mamasita. Plus the service is brilliant and the drinks are smooth – so strut your way over the Myers Place, have a G&T at Lily Blacks and then head in for some eats.
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