A temple to tequila and tacos, Bar Patron brings an air of sophistication to Sydney's sour cream-dolloped Mexican dining scene.
Located in the old Café Ananas spot in Circular Quay, the new venue comes courtesy of Rockpool Dining Group (muchas gracias, Neil Perry).
The interiors, designed by Grant Cheyne, channel a Mexican country estate with tan leather seating, potted succulents and a decorative ceiling with cut-out detailing.
Patrons of Patron can choose from one of the well-dressed dining tables and a spot at the Carrara marble bar, which boasts beautiful views over Sydney Harbour, interspersed by horrifying images of rattling Sydney Trains.
The kitchen is headed up by Pamela Valdes, who moved to Australia from Veracruz in Mexico. Her menu includes all the Mexican classics — tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and empanadas — but strictly traditional in style, that means no Coon cheese, no seasoning sachets and strictly no Doritos corn chips.
We start our Mexican feast with the guacamole ($14), which comes served in a three-legged blue ceramic bowl. Valdes's version is simple and rustic, made from hand-smashed avocado with flecks of onion, tomato, coriander and lime. It's chunky and mild, serving as a cooling side dish for the entire menu.
Our favourite snacks are the tacos. There are four to choose from — fried flathead ($19), zucchini flower ($12) and guajillo chili prawn ($25) — but it's the el pastor ($12.50) that you want.
Valdes's is made from marinated and grilled pork topped with chiltomate (a tomato and chilli salsa) and charred pineapple served in a chewy corn tortilla. It's a fiesta of fresh flavours, and it's just as good as — if not better than — what you'll find on the streets of Mexico.
Other excellent options include the beef empanadas ($9.50) topped with crumbly white Oaxacan cheese and fresh herbs, the fun and cheesy chorizo fundido ($19) and the chicken tostadas with bean frijole and chilli adobo ($9).
Sweet toothed–patrons will be enamoured by Bar Patron's version of the tres leches cake (three milk cake, $9). The patisserie-style dessert features thin layers of sponge, sandwiched with dulce de leche, topped with meringue kisses and drenched in condensed milk. It's exceptionally sweet, as per the Central American–version, but if you cancel it out with a salty margarita, it goes down quite nicely.
Which brings us to drinks, and despite the extensive offerings, you really do need to try the margarita, which is shaken with lime, sherbet and Silver, Roca or Platinum Patron tequila ($20/$30/$40). Served in a copper-bottomed old-fashioned glass, the drink is beautifully balanced, strong but not too sweet, with a thick, crusty salt rim.
If you just won the lottery (or you're bad with money) then go ahead, treat yo'self to the Millionaire's Margarita. The top tipple, which is priced at $100 (holy guacamole) is made from the ultra premium Patron Gran Burdeos tequila, Remy Martin Louis XIII Cognac, liquid nitrogen chilled finger lime pearls and freshly squeezed lime and agave juice. Served in a martini glass, it's decorated with 24-karat-gold leaf and a gold Patron bee ornament.