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A Paddington terrace filled with tequila and tasty South American morsels.

Inspired by a lengthy trip through South America, Paddington's Tequila Mockingbird is an inspired marriage of the vibrant, bold flavours of that continent with top-shelf Australian produce.

Designed by the prolific Luchetti Krelle (Bar Brose, ACME), the terrace has been refashioned into a skinny but stylish space, with a long bar leading into a warm space with wooden floors, hanging plants and gorgeous black and white line drawings of tropical fish and cacti.

The menu allows you to play mix and match with tapas-style servings or settle for a set menu, which is a filling three courses for $65. The latter begins with ceviche tacos ($7) which offer crunch, freshness and come in that most wonderful of inventions: the taco stand. Another entrée of kangaroo tartare with black beans ($16) continues the inventive, cross-continental approach.

Often the menu comes across as a kind of delicious potted South American history lesson. A white fish tiradito ($18), enlivened with colourful corn textures and nutty pickled jicama, is a vivid illustration of the influence of Japanese immigrants on Peruvian cooking, while the causa potato with salt cod ($16) is a dish tied with up the history of Peru and speaks volume of the cuisine's ingenuity with root vegetables. Here it's plated in a colourful crescent, bringing fine dining finesse to a rustic dish.

From the grill, there's spatchcock with coriander ($32) and the comfort food of broccolini with mole ($9) that was included on the menu to please co-owner Michael Fegent's mother. Unusual sides include alpaca empanadas ($8) with meat that is sweet and tender, not unlike lamb. Octopus ($26) is another highlight, with succulent pieces of the seafood daubed with a dazzlingly green chimichurri sauce and scattered with lightly charred pickled onions.

You'll want to finish with a suspiro limeña ($15), a dulce de leche and meringue dessert whose name roughly translates as 'sigh of a girl from Lima'. It tastes as poetic as it sounds and is elevated by a spot of yuzu granita.

A tequila-heavy cocktail list complements the big flavours and South American accent of the menu, with the likes of Volcan De Fuego ($20) which combines tangy, citric sweetness with the spice of anejo mescal. The house cocktail shares a name with the restaurant ($19) and is also heartily recommended for its fresh, summery flavours and tajín-coated rim.

They also boast an unusually comprehensive tequila list, with dozens of selections and the likes of a complex, aromatic Don Julio Reposado ($20) on offer. It's a place that takes its tequila pretty seriously — so don't expect to be throwing down cheap shots with a lemon and salt chaser.

Silly name aside, Tequila Mockingbird is seriously good, pulling off an ambitious menu complemented by lively service and an expertly curated drinks list.

Published on September 22, 2016 by Daniel Herborn

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