My Mexican Cousin
Cnr Sturt Street/Southbank Boulevard (the Melbourne Recital Centre)
My Mexican Cousin is a confusing name for a restaurant. My friends kept thinking we were going for Mexican food, right up until we started to decipher unfamiliar names like “gumbo” and “jambalaya” in the low light of the restaurant. Naming the place after the best-selling dish at St Ali was a little odd, but I soooort of get what they were going for: it’s all down in that southern USA nearly Mexico area, right? (That was tongue-in-cheek, by the way.)
Now, there’s been some controversy over the dishes here: MMC opened, the food was called out as nothing like authentic creole cuisine by a blogger named Burger Mary, who the restaurant then hired to sort out the menu, but then changed it again after she left. I think this review is set during the period of this Third Wave, as it were, but when I look at the website it looks to have changed incarnations again!
This state of flux may actually be a selling point. I’d assume that MMC depends, for a large part, on arts precinct audiences, particularly MTC and the Recital Centre. And these people might go to a season of plays, or performances. Perhaps it’s good that there’s a chance to order different dishes each time?
Certainly on the night we visited (a Thursday) the place was packed with pre-show diners, and dramatically cleared out once the performance began. Unfortunately for regular diners, this meant two things: staff run off their feet when the restaurant was at full capacity, and consequently it was a real effort to order dessert for quite some time after all the diners had left. I think they assumed everyone had left and ignored us while cleaning up tables and the like.
Never mind! The food, while a little pricy (I’d recommend going in a group so you have the chance to split costs) was great. Bear in mind, I know nothing about Creole/Southern American/New Orleans cuisine, so I’m just coming to this review from the point of view of someone who likes food and trying new dishes. That said:
These pork balls were deep fried and sitting on a spiced aioli. Now, it’s not hard to make anything deep fried taste nice, but the addition of a tasty dipping sauce doesn’t hurt.
I’m fairly unsure of how to eat mussels. I think what I really need to do to cure myself of that is to find one of those restaurants that does the buckets of moules marinieres and just have at them until I decide whether I like them or not. What I did really like, however, was this seafood jambalaya. It was my favourite dish of the night – reminded me of paella.
Oooh, but this wasn’t far behind: sticky chewy ribs with a side of delicious coleslaw. I’m really getting into coleslaw recently. Used to hate it as a child, but then again I also hated mayonnaise and I’ve rediscovered that with a passion. Dangerous times ahead. The ribs didn’t go far between six but what I had I lurved.
The goat gumbo was fine but full of bones, which made it difficult to divide between six. I didn’t mind it as a watery sort of curry (bearing in mind it’s probably blasphemy to call it a curry) but this was probably the only dish we didn’t finish on the night.
A couple of sides filled out our meal nicely:
Dessert. We went two ways on the table – the other end went for what I considered a fairly ‘safe’ choice in the dark chocolate mousse, but they enjoyed it. I insisted on ordering the beignets for the table and was proven right when they were to die for.
I’m surprised this place has such a low rating on Urbanspoon. If you came in a couple, and didn’t get to try many of the dishes, I can see it being a much more expensive experience and more disappointing, though. A group of six was perfect.