Ok ... Mamasita!! We finally made it there! At about 5.15pm on a warm Friday evening I'm climbed those hallowed steps up 1/11 Collins Street, laden with my work bag and shopping for Saturday's party. With only one couple ahead of me, my name was taken and I was ushered to the bar to wait for M, who was about 10mins away. The joint was already pretty packed. My anxiety at the fact that I could be summarily forgotten was eased somewhat by the intense salty hit of the Mamasita Marguarita (El Jimador reposado - a tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime, on the rocks), which I was downing a little too quickly in excitement.
As soon as M pushed past the forming queue and waved at me in greeting, our friendly waiter already had menus in hand and was approaching us to take us to our designated table. You will have to be prepared to share, but although packed, it doesn't feel cramped.
M started off witha Charro Negro (El Jimador reposado, cola, fresh lime, salt rim, on the rocks), and we got down the business of selecting our meal from the menu. I would encourage you to go to the Mamasita website and look through the material there ahead of your visit. It will provide you with some idea on how big the dishes are and how to structure your meal. Their recommendation for a couple is to order 2 or 3 small items and a main., which is pretty much what we ended up doing.
However, regardless of how you do this, DO NOT SKIP the Elotes callejeros as your Primeros (starter). This is an absolute must have. Described on the menu as a "'Street Style' chargrilled corn, queso - a sort of cheese, chipotle mayonnaise & lime", the taste on your first bite is indescribable. At once familiar, at the same time, something totally new and exciting. (I should preface this by saying that Mexican cuisine is in many ways alien to me) It was certainly a great way to start the evening off. The creaminess of the cheese matched with the spice hit from the chipotle was brilliant. It was funny watching the large table behind us hoe into their cobs all at once, almost in formation, like something out of a looney tunes cartoon.
We went for 2 different Tostaditas (crispy toitillas with fillings on top):
de Pescado - Market fish, lime, guacamole, nasturtiums & serrano chilli
de Cangrejo - Crab meat, avocado, cucumber, tamarind mayonnaise & red chilli
I forgot to ask what the fish was, some kind of white flesh perhaps whiting, it was certainly the one to finish off on as it had the stronger flavour. Not sure if the Nasturtium petal contributed much beyond a bit of prettiness or colour. I would have preferred the Crab meat to have been a little stronger on the palate. If they both weren't on the plate together, the de Cangrejo would have stood up on its own, naturally.
Next to come was the no-brainer, ever since I read about the "Mexican Truffle" on Melbourne Gastronome, I have been dying to try it for myself. The Huitlacho Quesadillas, as Claire writes, is a must order, full off wonderfully earthy mushroom flavour. Ignore the fact that you are consuming the diseased part of the maize plant (god knows how they get this through customs), it was the second highlight of the evening.
We finished off our meal with a selection from the Food for the Family (i.e. Mains) portion of the menu - Estofado de cabra - Chipotle-braised goat, roasted sweet corn paste
If you order this, make sure you try it with the El Yucateco Hot Sauces provided at your table - Chile Habanero green and red. (You can buy these and your fridge should not be without!) They work very well with the rich and unctious goat meat. You have the option to choose either rice or tortillas as accompaniement. I'm not a fan of sweet corn, but the sweet corn base worked well in this case, and is necessary. The flavour, unusually, got better towards the end, even though we were reaching breaking point!
If I wasn't fiddling with the top button of my pants, I would have ordered another serve of Elotes callejeros, but judging from the queue snaking out into Collins street when we left, this cocina ain't going anywhere anytime soon ... definitely worth repeated visits, and certainly worth queuing up for.