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14° & SUNNY ON MONDAY 20 AUGUST IN SYDNEY
By Eddie Hart
November 02, 2014
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Mejico

A buzzy eatery serving a modern-twist on Mexican cuisine — and plenty of tequila.
By Eddie Hart
November 02, 2014
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BOOK A TABLE

Muy bien! Mejico (pronounced meh-he-co) has undergone an exciting transformation. The popular Mexican restaurant and bar which opened on Pitt Street in 2013 has introduced 30 new dishes with a focus on a 'market–to-table' ethos and a menu designed for sharing. By 'sharing menu' we don't mean Tex Mex nachos, but sophisticated fare with a modern twist inspired by the complex, vibrant flavours found in Mexican and Central American cuisine.

The Mejico space remains much the same; lofty industrial ceiling, exposed brick walls and distressed concrete beams brightened by vivacious colours and bold geometric patterns. A sizeable bar that greets you upon entry is indicative of imminent revelry, and impressively offers the largest tequila selection in Australia. The venue is buzzing with tables of young people in the mood for a fiesta of flavours and flowing tequila.

The tequila at Mejico is all 100 percent agave, with none of the nasty additives that give you a headache the size of the Teotihuacan pyramids. We recommend treating the experience like you would a single malt whisky, where you sip, roll the tipple over the tongue and savour its unique flavour. For connoisseurs, a nip of the elite varieties such as the Gran Centenario Gran Reserve could set you back almost $100.

Choosing from over 230 tequila options is a daunting task, so that's Mejico has recently introduced an ingenious invention: the Tequila Wheel. This nifty wooden contraption provides a tailored tequila recommendation as you turn the wheel to your preference for price, intensity and flavour. I select 'cultured, curious and spicy' which translates into the Milagro Barrel Reserve ($16); this lightly golden reposado is moderately aged, with hints of caramel and spice and medium intensity warmth in the back of the throat.

There are also a few variations on the classic Mexican margarita — be adventurous and try the mezcal served on the rocks with agave worm salt ($18). Si, real worm crushed into a traditional powder. If that's not appealing, there is a pleasant assortment of tequila-based cocktails, a solid cerveza (beer) selection and a decent wine menu with an emphasis on drops from Argentina and Chile.

The signature guacamole adds some theatre to your meal, as the ingredients are smashed together tableside in a molcajete (Mexican pestle and mortar), with long, golden plantain chips as the perfect vehicle for dipping. From the raw bar, we opt for the delicate tuna tostadas ($16) — sashimi-grade tuna cured in 'Tiger's Milk', a Peruvian citrus and spiced based marinade, topped with a savoury spiced tapioca and served on dainty tortilla chips. Although a disappointingly small portion size, this light and fragrant dish is a notable appetiser.

There are a few varieties of soft-shell tacos, served in sets of two — the grilled ocean trout ($12) boasts beautifully cooked pink fish on a bed of pickled red cabbage, with a little heat from the sliced jalapeno and creamy chipotle mayonnaise. Achiote chicken ($26) has survived as a favourite from the previous menu. Tender pieces of Yacutan-style chicken are assembled upon a bed of quinoa and candied, spicy almonds, while the golden mango habanero salsa is lavishly piled over the top. The refreshing sweetness of the fruit is expertly balanced with a zealous chilli kick. Order a side of the brightly coloured heirloom carrots ($8) with dried cranberries and toasted pepitas, which are deliciously glossy with the sweet agave and virgin coconut oil vinaigrette.

The desserts are particularly tempting for chocoholics, as there are a several options that pay homage to the worlds greatest indulgence discovered by the ancient Mayans. We could not resist the churros ($12), a traditional cinnamon-spiced version of the doughnut decadently drizzled in cajeta (caramel). Consume these heavenly morsels while warm, and make sure you dip generously in the sticky chocolate sauce. Alternatively, the peanut cajeta flan ($12) is a delightful medley of flavours and textures.

The fresh, seasonal produce and modern yet authentic dishes will challenge your expectations of Mexican food. And who knows, after experiencing tequila like a connoisseur, you might reconsider its wicked reputation.

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