Restaurant Review by Franz Scheurer
(Above pic stolen from Tequila Mockingbird's website)
They bill themselves as 'South American' but, in reality, it's mainly Mexican food (and lots of Tequila and Mezcal). Mexican cuisine is absolutely superb, in Mexico, but the food doesn't travel well and unfortunately, we just don't get it in Australia. Most of our Mexican restaurants are at best Tex-Mex and as we chew ourselves through gluey cheese and blobs of sour cream we wonder what all the fuss is about. There are a few exceptions, not many, but they do exist and, so far, Tequila Mockingbird takes line honours.
A converted terrace in Paddington is home to Tequila Mockingbird with a large bar at the front and tables in the back and upstairs. The place is warm, inviting and comfortable and sitting in the covered area out the back feels like sitting in a restaurant in Oaxaca. Not only does the place look right, it feels and smells right. The menu is quite small and concise and they do have two tasting menus ($65 and $85) and they're not only fabulous value for money but a great way to experience many of chef's favourite dishes.
Service is efficient, very friendly and helpful and they know their food and drink or know who to ask. Being an agave aficionado I was happy to see a decent Tequila and Mezcal list although I'd like to see a Raicilla on there and please don't treat Del Maguey as just another mixer but get some Tobala in (don't worry, I'll come and drink it). The wine list is excellent too, as are the offerings of other spirits, aperitifs and digestives (even a decent whisky list).
Now lots of places have a good ambience, an interesting drinks list and quite a few have good service and some have great food, but it is quite rare that all of this comes together under one roof and Tequila Mockingbird is exactly that. All I can say: A superb night out in every way!
The whole menu is designed to share plates and we started with a superb guacamole, pico de gallo and plantain chips, a very textural ceviche taco aji amarillo (with hard shell) and an outstanding kingfish tiradito with sea asparagus, salted melon and coconut pistachio. Next I had to have the pulled goat shoulder quesadilla with a tomatillo salsa verde. This was probably my favourite dish of the night and the tomatillo salsa is the best of its kind I've eaten, anywhere in the world. The next dish, cast-iron-cooked provolone, fried onion and jalapeno and it was every bit as good as my benchmark, the fried Saganaki cheese at the Apollo in Kings Cross, and the little spice added by the jalapeno moves this one into my new benchmark. Ready for mains we had the MB6+ Jacks creek wagyu flank, garlic jalapeno butter, maize, charred corn with queso and finally the crisp-fried Brussels sprouts, garlic lemon and pecorino. The meat was tender, well rested, perfectly seasoned and cooked rare, as asked for, and it was sensational. I do like Brussels sprouts and I do love a well-cooked out polenta but I am not so sure the pecorino had a place nor was it culturally appropriate. Just when we were burstingly full the dessert, a yuzu, suspiro limeño coupe arrived and somehow, we found room for it.
The food is without a doubt the best Mexican food I've had in Australia and congratulations to chef and the team in the kitchen. Everything else just worked and I will be back!
Would I recommend this place to my friends: Unreservedly
Would I go back: YES, yes and yes
Best dish: Goat shoulder (and everything else...)
Noise: 78 db (surprisingly low with all the hard surfaces around)
The 'je ne sais quoi': the feeling of being on holidays
6 Heeley Street
Paddington NSW 2021
Tel.: (02) 93316749