Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant
Although the wave of Mexican in Melbourne seems to have passed through, with less new Mexican restaurants popping up, there are those who rode the wave successfully who are still standing, and serving up the goods.
Walking in Touche Hombre, on Lonsdale street in the city, I couldn’t help but immediately smile at the Ghostbusters neon, flashing away next to a graffitied wall. Although some of the other Mexican players are clean and crisp, Touche Hombre is their antithesis, with a bit of grunge, colour, and texture with the music blaring (but fortunately not so loud that you’re yelling at your dinner partner!)
Brad and I were in to try out some of the items from the new menu, but when doing Mexican, you’ve got to start with the margarita’s first! Served up in enamel mugs, we get the margarita del Tommy, with Espolon blanco, Pierre Ferrand dry Curacao, citrus and agave nectar, as well as the La Margarita de October 1941, with Espolon Reposado, damiana, Pierre Ferrand Curacao and citrus. You’ll have to forgive for not remembering which is which, as they were both delightfully potent, strong, but not overwhelming, balanced out well with a nice amount of acidity and sweetness. One was more citrus and summer, whilst the other had a herbaceous note…guess someone’s going to have to visit and let me know!
We started our night with the spicy lamb ribs, with merquin, coriander and honey. I was amazed at how positively meaty these were, as I know my mum’s had some relatively lean lamb ribs when making them at home. Simply succulent and tender, don’t be shy of the fat, and brace yourself for the heat of the chilli, which is hot, but not unbearable at all. So much yum.
The Touche fried chicken with habanero cream with lime was also totally delicious, with a lovely spice dusting, and an insanely crunchy exterior (gluten free too)! The habanero cream had a lovely gentle kick as well, again, not so much that it would overwhelm either though!
Our tostaditos are cute as buttons, and we were given one of each to sample. I had the blue crab with pickled chilli, lime and basil aioli, which was so refreshing, sweet and surprisingly juicy, and the tuna with candied peanuts, soy and black sesame which was also quite refreshing, but a little meatier, I felt like it could use a little more acidity though. Brad tried the chicken tinga, with mango jam, coriander and chipotle mayo and the pumpkin with cashews pepitas and jalapeño.
Usually I don’t expect to really fill up on Mexican food, it’s tasty, filling, but typically not super huge servings.
Well that’s until Touche Hombre brought out their tacos. These guys aren’t cheap usually (average price of $7 a taco) but they are meaty and filling.
In both the Mejilla taco, with slow cooked pork cheek, habanero cream and barbecue corn salsa and the chimichurri chicken taco with egmont cheese, taste peptise and coriander aioli, I found the proteins to be surprisingly generous and incredibly tender and delicious, especially the chimichurri chicken. Both combinations had a great mix of flavours, the Mejilla a little brighter and sweeter, and the chimmichurri rich and herbaceous. Both delicious. I had kind of forgotten how much I enjoy tacos!
To wrap up, the chocolate ice-cream sandwich with chilli and peanut butter parfait. Talk about my ideal ice-cream to biscuit ratio! Although I enjoyed this, it was a bit hard to eat, the biscuit could have been a bit shorter, so I could actually get a spoonful with the ice-cream, or have the biscuit crumble a bit more into the ice-cream, and there definitely was no chilli kick as promised (not that it was an issue, but I was looking for it). However, with other ice-cream sandwiches on the menu, I’d certainly be more than happy to see which one I like best!
Like I was saying, although I don’t normally leave Mexican restaurants feeling totally stuffed….well this was an exception. I definitely rolled out the door with Brad that evening! I think one critique my mother’s had for some of the other Mexican restaurants we’ve been to is that all the dishes tend to taste the same, as they use similar garnishes on everything, but I think what I liked a Touche Hombre, was that each dish really had it’s own flavour profile and textures, and that it was all very tasty. Would I be back? For sure.
233 Lonsdale Street