Touche Hombre

November 20, 2012

233 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Hola, from Touche Hombre and the good side of exams!! Yesterday I submitted my final essay, and am now the proud recipient of 1/3 of a law degree! This is also a celebratory post because I’ve just breached the 100,000 hits mark for the blog – 101,600 hit as of 10pm today – thanks everyone, and keep on hitting that refresh button!

This little donkey was sitting on the bench when we arrived; he’s become a sort of unofficial mascot for the restaurant for me.

Touche Hombre, the ridiculously cool, ever popular Mexican joint owned by the ridiculously-young-to-own-three-restaurants Davis Yu. What can I say, the guy knows what Melbourne wants, and he is all too pleased to give it to them. Touche Hombre opened right in the midst of the Mexican wave (haha) that hit Melbourne about 18 months ago, offering quick, cheap and delicious street style food with a killer cocktail list and an awesome soundtrack.

I have to say, S, T and I felt pretty damn lucky about our meal here – it was a Thursday night at 7:30pm, we’d messed around trying to decide on a place to eat, been distracted by a car that had gotten itself stuck half hanging off those new elevated tram stops on Swanston street (I’ve since seen this happen two other times – come on CBD drivers, get your shit together), before finally fronting up to the glass door of Touche.
By some small miracle, the lady at the door took one look at us and said “yep, come on in” – freakishly good luck, hey? We settled ourselves in at one end of the bar and immediately struck up a conversation with the friendly bar staff who were all too happy to advise on what to order.

I mentioned the drinks list – the margaritas from Touche Hombre are pretty dam delicious, but we were feeling adventurous so ordered three Michelada Bitchin’ Mexican beer cocktails – a salsa and chipotle puree, fresh lime and a chilli salt rim, topped with Tecate lager. It was blokey and spicy and an absolute champion of a cocktail, but if you’re usually one to order sweet, sugary cocktails I’ll warn you this probably isn’t the drink for you.

Eating a Touche is a very casual affair – cutlery comes canteen style in boxes on the table, and all food is served on metal trays with paper lining (plates only provided upon request). Mostly finger food, it’s excellent washed down with some beers or cocktails (or a mix of the two, as the case may be!)

Because every Mexican place seems to be doing their own version of Elotes Callejeros, we had to try Touche’s version, served with coriander, lime zest and chipotle butter. They weren’t bad, but I probably wouldn’t order them again – they somewhat pale in significance to the cheesy, spicy glory of the corn served at Mamasita.

A dish that I thought Touche did really well was the Totopos (basically glorified nachos), with tortilla chips, guacamole, egmont cheese, sour cream and salsa. It was the prettiest bowl of nachos I’ve ever seen, and perfect for sharing with our drinks. It’s also a pleasantly big serve and more than enough for four people to share.

Then we ate a lot, and I mean A LOT, of tacos! We chose a good variety of fillings, but annoyingly they ALL came with shredded cabbage on top – variety, people!!

My favourite were the tacos de pescado, battered day-boat fish (most ambiguous and strange way to say ‘fresh market fish’ ever) with pickled cucumber, capers, shallots (and cabbage and tomato). Light, fresh and tangy, these were a winner.

The rather unusual tacos de morcilla weren’t bad, filled with black pudding, piquillo peppers, baby potato and mustard cream (and cabbage and tomato). The black pudding wasn’t very strong and I though the flavours were balanced overall but if anything a little underwhelming – I was expecting more of a gutsy flavour. That said, it’s a good one to try if you’re in the mood for an unusual but harmless taco filling.

We also tried the tacos the carnitas, spiced pork, apple, sage, chicharroues and habanero cream (and, of course, cabbage) – I only had a bite of this but S and T reported very favourably on them – the apple was somewhat reminiscent of a traditional pork roast.

Lastly, another unorthodox filling of oxtail and caramelised pumpkin served in a hard shell tortilla (also served with cabbage). I loved the filling of these – super meaty oxtail shreds married well with sweet pieces of pumpkin, but I found the hard tortilla too oily.

A little bit about the interior design – there’s always a DJ working the decks (though I have to say I got a bit sick of the loud music about two hours in – this is not a place to come for intimate chats, everyone seemed to be yelling at each other across tables), there are old school arcade games lining one wall and a neon ghostbusters sign greeting you as you walk in. The room is long and dark, and the bar is something of a feature, with hundreds of bottles of tequila all lit up.

The food is perhaps not as sophisticated as Mamasitas or Señoritas, but the flavours are interesting and the main attraction of the place is the club-like atmosphere, not the food. As I said earlier, the place is full of cool 20 and 30 somethings, all looking like they’ve reached the pinnacle of their social existence by merely eating here. Very trendy. As I’ve written before, I’m usually turned off by ultra-popular, hyped-up places. Having said that, we dined here on a whim and I really enjoyed the experience, so I’d recommend trying your luck at getting a seat.
Oh, and say ‘Hi’ to Señor Eeyore for me if you get a seat at his end of the bar – he enjoys nachos with salsa!

Touché Hombre on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Melbourne CBD, Mexican