I was invited to My Mexican Cousin to try out the food, and was excited to try what modern Creole cuisine was like. I will readily admit that I know nothing about Creole food. I've only eaten what I believe is Creole food at some Mauritian friend's houses and it was extremely delicious. However, I think the cuisine is very wide ranging and the dishes on the menu seemed more sophisticated that what I tried at my friends places. I guess the clientele the restaurant is trying it attract probably sits somewhere between a modern younger crowd as well as the Melbourne Recital Centre patrons.
Upon arriving at the restaurant, I was surprised at how small it was. A bar dominated the space, with seating both inside the restaurant around the bar and an open window outside where customers could also be served at the bar. I think when there are events on at the recital centre, the outside bar would see a lot of action for drinks and snacks. Inside, the dining tables wind around the exterior walls of the area, with a small open kitchen in the far left corner. I was seated a corner table for two, which was very cosy indeed. Luckily I'm a short Asian so easily fitted, but the Australia women's basketball team members would not fit into that table at all. The room lighting is bordering on dark and just acceptable for my liking.
We were served a selection of food chosen by Head Chef Simon den Boogert, who cooked at various restaurants in New Orleans to learn the Creole style of food. We kicked off our meal with a Smoke Tomato Soup with Basil and Cucumber Yoghurt. I'm not much of a fan of tomato soup in general but I did like this one. The chili kick in it and the smokey flavours really made it quite mooreish, especially on a cold night. I'm unsure if it needed the extra yoghurt flavour wise but maybe that's what is normally served in Creole style?
The next two entrees served were Oysters (natural and Rockerfeller) and Seared Scallops with Watermelon and Salsa Verde. You can never go wrong with a natural fresh oyster in my books and the salsa verde served with it was really good. The Rockerfeller oyster had a nice smoky flavour with bacon, cheese and herbs baked onto it. The Harvey Bay scallops were really delicious and worked wonderfully with the watermelon, salsa verde and chili. Who would have guessed that watermelon would taste good with scallops and chili. I must try this combination at home myself.
For mains, we first had the Beef Ribs with Red Cabbage Slaw and Jus. The ribs were divine. As they should be, the meat was soft and unctuous and the sauce complimented it really well. When eaten with the slaw, the flavour profiles all combined wonderfully. Next up, we tried the Seafood Jambalaya. This dish was a lot like a paella, which apparently is a close cousin. The dish was good, but didn't pack as much punch as a good paella. The seafood all seemed a bit bland and didn't have that umami sweetness. The rice was cooked well but needed more flavour. Even the chorizo didn't really taste of much.
Finally, we reach my favourite part of any meal, desserts. We got to try the Beignets, which were served with a Chantilly Cream, Salted Caramel, Strawberry Jam and Chocolate Chili Ice Cream. This dish totally blew me away. The salted caramel worked great with the beignet, but so did the strawberry jam. And even chili chocolate which I don't like much, went well with the beignets. We both scraped our plates clean to get the last bits of everything.
The food, was on a whole very good. As I said, I cannot vouch for how Creole it is. To me, it doesn't bother me as I just like good food and am not as fussed about a restaurant having to serve a certain type of cuisine. It's hard to even categorise most restaurants nowadays as they all contain so many influences, hence the "modern" tag.
While the food was good, I did have issues with the service, which was not every efficient and felt extremely awkward. I was left standing at the door for quite some time while waiters clearly saw me and went about cleaning glasses at the bar rather than attend to me standing there awkwardly blocking the doorway. Finishes dishes were left on the table for what seemed an eternity, it was hard to catch a waiters attention, the wait staff didn't know the dishes very well and they were all trying too hard to be professional such that clearing a plate turned into a magician's act and pouring some wine was so slow and exaggerated I wanted to grab the bottle and pour it myself. The pacing of the food was also extremely slow. I don't know if that is the kitchen not keeping up, the intent of the kitchen, or the slow wait staff. Whatever, the case, there were up to 30 minute breaks between the entrees. I like to eat slowly, but even that is a tad too slow for me.
The Age review discussed how the dishes were quite pricey and if the servings I received were the normal size, I would have to agree. The Beef Ribs is $26 and I easily demolished that with lots of room to spare even though I'm not a big eater. The prices are probably verging on the high end of a mid priced meal and getting into fine dining costs if you eat enough food to fill you up.
Overall, I really liked the food as the flavours were really good but the service could be improved and the value aspect I would also question.
I dined courtesy of My Mexican Cousin.