Tequila Mockingbird is a new Latin American restaurant in Paddington's Five Ways. With three head chefs Regan Porteous, Matt Taylor-Watkins and Uruguayan Gabriel Valenti, the latter from Peruvian-Japanese restaurant Osaka in Buenos Aires, the menu is seasonal covering a different Latina American region each season. Winter dishes reference Peru, Argentina and Uruguay. And an upcoming spring menu will start with the north of Mexico, down through Peru and Venezuela.
About two hours before our booking at Tequila Mockingbird we were doing an escape room with Louise and Viggo. "Guys I don't feel well," Viggo said and he fell ill to a bout of food poisoning (kids there's a lesson there, be very careful eating 5 day old leftovers!). So with a booking for four now looking like a booking for two I quickly texted Nina and Garth. She and I had previously talked about going to Tequila Mockingbird as she liked the sound of the menu and it was within her 5km radius of their house.
"Sure, we'll see you there!" she replied.
It's busy this Saturday night. The front bar that seats 10 people is three people deep but we edge our way through the passageway and a friendly face takes us to the table. Service is very friendly - from the booking to the welcome. There are two levels of the restaurant, a ground floor level and the first floor. We're led up to the first floor.
It's high time for a cocktail. Poor Nina, I don't think this mild chilli lover quite anticipated what a punch the Tequila Mockingbird would have. And when I take a sip even I am slightly taken aback by the heat. Still I like it but I think that you need at least a moderate chilli tolerance for this. There is Don Julio Blanco, St Germaine Elderflower, jalapeno, lemon and agave.
I like something a bit sweet and a bit sour and the Mezcal Maracuya answered the call perfectly. The Mescal Marcuya Mule has Coralillo Joven mezcal, lime, passionfruit and house made ginger beer.
There is a bit of a wait for the first bites of food. The salmon carpaccio is given a sweet, tangy twist with the addition of the passionfruit. It's quite a different flavour profile for fish and the seeds are a bit crunchy and sharp but overall I prefer the fish below.
The white fish taradito is a well balanced medley of kingfish, paper thin slices of pickled jicama and corn textures including charred corn salsa, sweet corn, aji amarillo puree, cancha and fried Peruvian corn kernels.
This is my favourite item, the celeriac soft shell taco made with roasted celeriac in the tortilla making it a gluten free dish (as well as dairy free). There's crunchy soft shell crab inside along with red onion pickles and the smoked chipotle labna sauce drips out of the thin tortilla but hey nobody's complaining here ;).
They empanadas are sizeable and are deep fried numbers that are filled with alpaca and mozzarella and come with a piquant salsa on the side to give them a bit of oomph. The alpcaca comes from a supplier in Berry on the south coast of NSW.
I love a menu where fried cheese is considered an in between course. This is Nina's choice and it's a sizzling plate of melted cheese, with tiny garlic mushrooms and sliced ciabatta. It comes with a sprinkle of Pichicata which is a seasoning made of dried mushrooms, salt, pepper and sugar. It's a little pricey for the size but it's rich and filling.
We had actually tried to order the dry aged rib eye with garlic jalapeño butter because I wanted to try the jalapeño butter but this item came instead. The grass fed beef is tender, the tri tip slightly chewy but with an excellent beefy flavour. It is enhanced by the salsa and chimichurri pots on the side.
I hold a lot of hope for potato sides and when they described them as crispy I was looking forward to crispy potatoes. These potatoes while nice enough are not crispy, they're baked but soft textured with a rocoto cheese and a tomato based sauce.
This is for people that love tangy desserts and the yuzu suspiro is large with lots of fluffy textures and sweet tangy flavours. Suspiro de limeña is a Peruvian dessert that translated to "sigh of Lima". With dulce de leche and meringue it is lightened with yuzu curd, yuzu granita, whipped chantilly cream and a frozen yuzu meringue.
My favourite ends up being the crisp alfajor shortbread biscuit with dulce de leche, banana ice cream, hazelnuts and hokie pokie crumble with a sprinkle of salt on top.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever had food poisoning and had to abandon plans post haste? Do you mind last minute dinner invitations?
This meal was independently paid for.
6 Heeley Street Five Ways, Paddington
Tel: +61 (02) 93316749
Opening Hours Wednesday 6-10:30pm