Noodlies, Sydney food blog is off to Mexico!
“District Dining is a winner, for the district and beyond. We get a bistro buzz and bistro value, as well as food that rates high on the degree-of-difficulty scale. This isn’t a casual pub bistro at all; it’s just Assiette without tablecloths. By refusing to do dumbed-down food, Turnbull might just have smartened-up the future of pub dining” Terry Durack predicted of Warren Turbull’s (of Assiette) latest venture, District Dining in his review from November 2010.
Food bloggers were rapturous in their praise too – the amount of praise heaped on the crispy pigs ears and anything served in sardine tins or on wooden chopping boards could have filled Sydney Harbour.
Sadly, two years later, District Dining is no more. Like printed newspapers, everyone says they love it, but obviously not enough are buying them. From the district’s ashes rises not just another restaurant, but an irresistible magnet for hipsters, a new country even. Welcome to Mexico.
Mexico, food and liquor comes to Sydney via New Zealand where there’s already two popular restaurants, Auckland and Takapuna.
Two days after Mexico’s launch, Noodlies visited the restaurant for a Friday lunch. A warm, sunny afternoon is a perfect time to sample the playfulness and colour of Mexico; that District Dining tribute to Mondrian at the entrance is gone, replaced by a Frida Kahlo inspired mural – Karlo’s influence extends to the walls inside, where they take a playful, macabre turn. The small outside area which seats around 20 makes a lovely setting to soak in the Sydney summer.
If you think there’s a raft of new Mexican restaurants opening, you’re right and according to Food Forward 2013 survey, the South American food trend is set to continue.
Today, young, slim and pretty hipsters are crawling all over Mexico enjoying Mexican beers and chomping on house made corn chips (you know how they like to be ahead of the trends). Mexico is just as much about drink as it’s about food, sangria, margarita and nine types of Mexican beers - for those on the wagon, there’s a good selection of exotic carbonated drinks, guava, lime, grapefruit, mandarin and of course, Mexican cola.
Hipsters will feel at home with the menu prined on A3 brown paper stock that retains just enough roughness of recycled paper without being too coarse. Hipsters and food bloggers will rejoice that a twitter hashtag #MexicoMenu and the fact that the restaurant is on instagram are helpfully printed on the menu.
Noodlies tried something from the snacks section and something from the specials board. Salsa roja with house made corn chips snack is on the plain side, the chips are thick and lightly salted begging to be dipped in salsa for flavour. Coffee and ancho braised beef ribs comes on a wooden chopping board looking like it’s been rustled up in the Mexican desert; the beef outer burnt as if cooked by flames from a makeshift wood-fire, crunchy puffed rice garnish resemble foraged small bugs. I couldn’t taste the coffee, but there’s plenty of meat in ‘em flaky-tender ribs.
The staff are polite, helpful, on the verge of too attentive, many spoke with a sexy South American accent, I’m just not expert enough to tell if it’s Mexican.
No doubt the critics and bloggers will be joined by skinny hipsters in praising Mexico, the country and the restaurant. It’s got all the ingredients of the latest trends, that’s for sure. Price wise: beers are $9-$13, soft drinks $5, food $6-$14 – for this crowd, these prices aren’t too exxy (it costs to maintain a hipster image, you know). Our modest lunch of one starter, two mains and two drinks it comes to almost $50 – I couldn’t say it’s cheap. But value for money? Undoubtedly, if you’re one of those ahead-of-the-curve, epic, hipster types. Will it survive? It’s got a good vibe and the focus on liquor is much healthier for the bottom line.
Mexico, food and liquor
17 Randle St, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9211 7798
No bookings (grumble): At this stage we will not be taking bookings at Surry Hills. Instead we have a “walk-up” policy.