11° & RAINY ON THURSDAY 30 MARCH IN MELBOURNE
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This mistress does the lot, including margaritas worth their weight in liquid gold.

A change of guards at Lady Carolina in Brunswick East has brought more flavour and a much-welcomed relaxed vibe to the Latin eatery — so we suggest you take your latest plate-sharing squeeze and nab the Que Pasa neon nook, and watch how the crowd grows and hums itself into an expectant buzz.

Chefs Hugo Diaz and Cindy Flores have taken the reigns of the kitchen from Paul Wilson after a change in ownership earlier this year, and they've reworked some magic and heart into the restaurant's take on Latin American cuisine. 

There's still an overwhelming amount of options, but relax — you're in the careful hands of host Barri Whittaker and her team, who know what they're doing. And thank the Aztec gods they're not afraid to ensure you have a good time too. Gracious and good-willed, they suggest you'd be remiss not to begin with a passionfruit margarita and a taco or two — and who are we to argue? A few of their slow-cooked pork sorts ($6 each) should suffice.

Follow with a tricky little ceviche number. It will confound your friends, as there's not an ounce of fish in sight — it's cauliflower based ($11) . Your hosts know their wine pairing too, so do remember to move on at some point from the golden elixir as there's plenty of other drops that need your attention.

Reward your pescatarian pals for their earlier well-humoured bafflements with the fish of the day. We tried the perfectly seared salmon and overdid ourselves with two condiments ($3 each). A smoky corn, coriander and mayo side is simple, yet explosive. The cauliflower number comes with Chilean merken oil, creating a smoky and apple-like crunch that's so spicy you'll sneeze.

Finish the evening with a Romora — it's a twist on the classic Campari, with hints of blackberry, blueberry, cranberry and rose. The wise will have also left room for dessert. Opt for the pecan flan ($11), an egg custard that's best described as a friendly cousin to cheesecake. It's also chef Cindy's family recipe, passed down from her Mexican matriarch. And, like Carolina, it's obvious she's one mighty fine lady.

Published on September 07, 2016 by Kayla Larson

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