Tag Archives: Mexican

SoCal, Neutral Bay

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From the team behind The Botanist in Kirribilli and Bondi Hardware comes SoCal, short for “So California”. So it should be no surprise that the menu is a mixture of Mexican and American classics like Mac & Cheese. There’s also a very tempting cocktail menu and we succumbed.

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Its a pleasant bar space, but there is also a fun outdoor beachy white balcony, which would be great to cordon off for a party.  How would I describe our night here? Relaxed, and casual, a place where you can have a few drinks, chill with friends, and snack have or a full meal. The food is overall enjoyable, but not necessarily of the innovative/blow your mind variety.  Sharing with a few friends, you can eat more than your fair share for $30-$40 per head, and I think that is about the right price point for the standard. The staff were really warm and enthusiastic, and keen to get our feedback on dishes.

We start off with some guacamole and salsa, and a side of Tater Tots.  The guac I’d say is just standard, but combined with the corn and salsa  and a crispy corn chip becomes lively. The TT’s on the other hand, just don’t do it for me and feel like they’ve come from a frozen McCains bag labelled kids snacks – although maybe nostalgia is the intention here.

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The kingfish is beautifully fresh, though the passionfruit doesn’t add enough of the intended acidity, a wedge of lime would have helped.

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One of my favourites of the night are the pulled pork quesiladas with eggplant.  I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to combine pork and eggplant, and its a combination which works well. I could eat a heap of these (and I think I did). If you were meeting a few friends for a drink, and just wanted a plate of something to munch on, this would be the perfect choice.

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We do see a bit of creativity with the cauliflower salad, combined with currants, pistachio, oregano and cumin yoghurt.

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The seared salmon is nicely cooked but the zucchini and walnut salad underneath is too salty.

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And our last shared dish of the night is stuffed squid, clams and kale (yes of course kale, no respectable Sydney restaurant dare be without it these days, I think they’d be blacklisted).  The squid are a little overstuffed and get a little lost, but it’s a decent dish, and the clams are delicious.

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We finish on a high note with a lime panacotta. Pretty to look at, and even better to eat.

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SoCal, 1 Young St, Neutral Bay, Ph (02) 9904 5691

SoCal on Urbanspoon

Mejico, Sydney

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Da-na-na-na-na-na-na, tequila! When a place has a dedicated tequila menu, you know that the night could get dangerous.  Enter Mejico, the latest in the “wave” of Mexican restaurants  that everyone says is happening in Sydney.  To me its more of a ripple, because we need the number to be multiplied by about a thousand to catch up to the number of neighbourhood Thai places.

Curious, I ask our friendly South American waitress about the owners and she tells me its owned by the guy who owns the chain Zumbrero (Sam Prince), a Mexican chain, and that he’s travelled extensively through Mexico learning about their cuisine.  I plead ignorance, haven’t heard of Zumbrero (she says there are 27 in Australia!) – and discover that there is one in Darlinghurst, but the other locations in NSW are in Queenbeyan, Wagga, and Wollongong – that might explain why.

Its an appealing menu with plenty to choose from, but we have to start with the fresh guacamole made at the table with plantain chips.  My friend comments the plantains must be some kind of bananas (“no, they’re plantains!” says our waitress), and I can see why, they honestly look like dried banana chips, which I can’t stand, so I hope she’s wrong (“they don’t taste like bananas, they’re plantains!” says our waitress again).  A bit of proogling says they’re both sort of right, plantains and bananas are actually related, but unlike bananas you can’t eat them raw. And thank goodness they don’t taste like banana chips, but like potato chips.  Anyhow, whatever they are,  they are great for scooping up the fresh guacamole with a right hit of chilli, and I really liked the addition of pistachios, great crunch (or you might get walnuts, depending what night you go) and we’re off to a good start.

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We then have Hiramasa Kingfish Ceviche with ruby grapefruit – again a nice fresh feel with a good tang from the grapefruit, but may be too acidic for some

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Smoked Pork Belly with black bean hummus and tomatillo salsa – this one was a bit too fatty for us and we didn’t enjoy it, but nice smokiness.

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Chargrilled Black Angus Sirloin with chimichurri and quinoa and pumpkin.  That chimichurri – fabulous – and beautifully tender meat

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Queso Fresco with homemade agave syrup.  This was recommended as a side, and it was a good one, I was scooping up every bit of that agave syrup.

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Agave-glazed Caramel Fudge – a very rich little finish

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Am I coming back – yes I am – there’s more I want to try – the lamb tacos, the salsas, the ribs.  This isn’t street food Mexican and it isn’t cheap – so don’t expect it to be such or you’ll be disappointed (keep in mind that even a takeaway chicken salad from Guzman is $11 these days), but you’ll get some great flavour highlights.  I looked at all the poor hopefuls in the line waiting to get into Jamie’s Italian for dinner, which is right next door, and I know which one I’d pick.

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Mejico, 105 Pitt Street, ph (02) 9230 0119

Méjico on Urbanspoon