If you’re a fan of European food but can’t quite muster the dimes for a plane ticket every time you need your fix, then Mordeo could be your new favourite eatery. Offering the best of Southern European cuisine, Mordeo brings a little piece of the Mediterranean to the inner city. Owner and executive chef Nicholas Aspros worked alongside head chef Marc Gehret to curate an innovative collection of fresh, produce-driven dishes, focusing on the vibrant flavours of Greece, Italy and Spain and ranging from tapas to generous share plates, woodfired meats and pizza. Mordeo means to devour in Latin, because really, is there any better way to approach food?
Located in the expansive Assembly in Deutsche Bank Place on Hunter Street, Mordeo manages to claim its territory in the aircraft hanger-esque space. The combination of warm low lighting, natural materials, a pressed tin bar and copper light creates the intimate ambience characteristic of a much smaller venue. The five imposing lamps that occupy the space create a makeshift ceiling and are so large it’s easy to imagine in a past life likely resided on the bedside table of a giant, next to a book on farming golden goose eggs.
The wine list is extensive and reasonably priced, showcasing several local vineyards as well as a vast selection of Italian, French, Spanish and Greek boutique wines. So make the most of the knowledgeable staff and be sure to ask for wine pairing suggestions. If you’re keen for something a little stronger, there’s a selection of creative cocktails, ranging from the bone-warming Tiramisu Martini ($16) to the lighter Summer Peach Cobbler ($16).
And if it’s the end of the week or you’re just feeling particularly daring, why not order one of their tequilas followed by a shooter of their house-made Verdita, a liquid mouth punch of blended coriander, lime, and chilli which will leave you feeling like the whole of Mexico relocated to your mouth for a few cactus-fuelled seconds.
There’s a vast selection of share plates to get you started. We suggest the creamy house-made taramasalata, made according to the owners’ yia yia’s recipe ($9); the seared scallops cooked to perfection in a sweet Pedro Ximenez reduction ($4 each); or the smoked pork hock terrine, with a pear and fennel salad and thick slices of chargrilled brioche ($22). The smoky flavours of the terrine are enhanced when paired with a glass of French dry rose Terres de Saint Louise Rose ($9).
The standout dish for sharing is without doubt the caramelised lamb ribs ($12). If human-rib marriage was legal, they’d have the waiters working double time as wedding celebrants. Slow cooked to fall-aparty perfection and marinated in a glorious concoction of golden syrup, BBQ sauce, wine and a balsamic reduction, after these ribs, there’s no doubt you’ll be left licking your fingers and, let’s face it, probably the chef’s fingers too.
Mordeo offers a huge selection of mains to suit every occasion, from casual classic pizzas topped with fresh ingredients and a thoroughly satisfying amount of cheese ($22 - $24) to generous share plates piled high with slow-cooked meats. If you have a little extra room in your dessert stomach, grab a bitter orange crema Catalana, Spain's answer to the creme brulee ($14).
On Thursday nights, there’s live music by local artists, which is considerate of Mordeo, because when you think about it, the more calories you tapping your feet the less guilty you’ll feel about ordering a second helping of caramelised ribs.