I'm so happy to have been invited to try Bondi's Mr Moustache - a modern Mexican restaurant that brings the street food flavours of Mexico right to our door here in Sydney. I've not been to Mexico (yet) but it's immediately obvious that the food at Mr Moustache is not the Tex Mex we're so used to being served here. Hooray *Mexican Wave*.
We sit at the bar, always the best spot in my opinion, and our bartender keeps us entertained throughout our lunch. He gives us a rundown on how Mezcal – the spirit of choice at Mr Moustache – is made and explains the different between this tipple and the ever-famous Tequila (it’s all in the Agave plants used people).
We’re poured a little shot of Mezcal to drink out of a traditional vessel – that looks like a bit seed pod, or half a tennis ball sans fuzzy bits. The Mezcal has a woody, smoky flavour and has quite a warming sensation as you drink it. It’s not overly strong so is quite easy just to drink on its own.
Although why drink Mezcal straight up when there’s cocktails on offer. I get to try two Mezcal-based cocktails over the course of our lunch and they are both GREAT yet totally different to each other.
The first cocktail I try is the "Little Fatso's Fizz" that's a mix of Creme de Pamplemousse (that's grapefruit in French ooh la la), orange bitters, fresh pink grapefruit, fresh lime sugar, egg whites and soda. The drink gets its name as Pamplemousse is often French slang for "Fatty"...phew, noone's calling me fat!
My second drink has such an ethereal title that I choose it based on name alone. "The Cloud People" is named after the first Indian group to rise to prominence in the Valley of Oaxaca (who are believed to have descended from the clouds). Whilst the first cocktail was quite "light, with a milder taste" The Cloud People really packs a punch thanks to the Nuestra Soleda that is infused with Chilli Ancho.
We're also handed a traditional Mexican bar snack to try - dried mango dusted in chilli salt (they'd run out of grasshoppers which is often what sitting at the bar will get you). The chilli isn't too hot and I love how the salt and sweet mango pair together.
The Boy sticks to his beverage of choice, beer, though I do try to convince him that “real men do drink cocktails”. No dice. We’re both paritculary impressed by the the “Taco Beer” that has been special designed by two woman who travelled through Mexico and devised a beer that is perfect to drink with Tacos.
One of the joys of sitting at the bar is getting to chat with the bar-tender who offers us some orange wedges that come dusted in Mezcal worm salt. Yes, that's right WORM salt. The crushed, dried worm has a very smoky, and someone hot flavour - a bit like chilli. It's very good and totally unexpected!
Before our food arrives a trio of house-made salsa arrive at our table. We’re encouraged to add these to our dishes to help enhance the falvours of the food. First up is a Macha – a smoky mix of roasted peanuts and morita chilli. Secondly we have a Serrano – a mild salsa of coriander, lime juice, Serrano chilli, onion and gGarlic. And last but not least, a hot little Habanero.
The minute I taste the ESQUITES I know that Sydney finally has it’s answer to my beloved Mamasita (in fact this place is better but don’t tell anyone as I still want to be able to get a table here whenever I want). A little shot glass is filled with warm corn-off-the-cob that is topped with creamy mayo, soft, melting Fresco cheese and Piquín chilli powder. Far out THIS IS GOOD STUFF!
GUACAMOLE ($13.00) served with house made corn chips alongside freshly made beetroot chips and sweet potato chips. The Guac is fresh and zingy with lots of zesty lemon juice, salt, pepper, pico de gallo. We’re told there are a few secret Mr Moustache ingredients but I think they’d have to kill us if they told us what the secret ingredient is! It’s great to see a twist on the regular side of corn chips with beetroot AND sweet potato chips also jostling for space on the place.
When our next dish comes with a pair of gloves I begin to wonder what is to befall us! We’re told that the TORTITA AHOGADA – a braised Pork Mini Sandwich bathed with Árbol Chilli Sauce – is what Mexicans love to eat after a big night out before heading home to sleep it off. The sandwich is a messy affair, hence the gloves, and it’s filled to overflowing with beans, braised shoulder pork and pork belly that is doused in a HOT HOT HOT Árbol sauce, spicy pickled onion and avocado. It’s spicy but it’s a heat that creeps up on you slowly, stays for a few minutes and then disappears. I’ve got to say this is better than any midnight kebab or Macca’s run I’ve ever had after a night out.
The PESCADO BAJA - beer-battered Fish taco – is one of the most popular tacos at Mr Moustache and I can see why! Crispy fish is topped with zesty cabbage that is pickled in cumin and vinegar. The whole lot is doused in some creamy chipotle Mayo that has just the right amount of smoky heat to it.
We also try the PORTOBELLO mushroom taco which the chef tells us is one of his favourites, especially when topped with the Macha Sauce (a nutty mix of peanuts and chilli). Of course Mushrooms go well with cheese and we delighted to taste a mix of mozzarella and Fresco cheese.
Where there are tacos there’s a good chance you’ll also find TOSTADITAS – round tortilla chips piled high with yummy Mexican toppings.
Our fist Tostadita is the ATUN - fresh Marinated Albacore Tuna – topped with sashimi-grade abacore tuna, cucumber, avocado and MORE secret ingredients. I wonder what these mysterious secret ingredients are? Perhaps Colonel Sanders knows? The tuna is marinated in a mix of soy, orange juice, and garlic and is finished with onion. Really, really good! Such fresh flavours and the marinade really does justice to the fresh, meaty tuna.
Our next Tostadita is the PATO - refried Beans and Spicy Duck with red Onion and Sour Cream. The duck is marinated and cooked in a Mr Moustache Tinga sauce (chipotle-tomato sauce). To me this gives the duck quite a sweet and also smoky flavour. Again, brilliant!
Have you left room for dessert? Yes? Excellent!
First up we have the Plátanos Machos - caramelised banana with coffee liquor and cajeta (milk caramel), served with vanilla ice cream (from Gelato Mesina just up the road – WIINING). Mounds of sweet caramelised bananas are severed in a luscious pool of sweet agave syrup that is then set ablaze with liquor. Yep, it’s as good as it sounds!
And to finish up an amazingly wonderful lunch we have the Brownie Picosito De Chocolate - Chilli Choc Brownie served with Vanilla Ice Cream. The brownie is served warm in a pool of chocolate sauce and is sprinkled with salted candied peanuts.
After our meal...and cocktails are done with...we get a taste of Mexican youth culture. Hilarous! The barman brings out the "shock box" which apparently all the young-uns in Mexico do once they've have a few drinks. Just press that button, all holds hands and we'll shoot some electricity through you. First one to let go shouts drinks for EVERYONE. OLE!
Time for us oldies to head home. Crazy fun.
Mr Moustache is at 69-71 Hall Street, Bondi Beach (they are just off the main street, down the arcade). Phone them on 9300 8892.