Sunday, 13 April 2014

Casual Dining - Fiesta Ole Mexican Cuisine

Given it was a Thursday night, we'd initially planned to have a quite night at home and SC had actually planned to have one of her two fasting days for the week.  That all changed pretty quickly when we received a text around lunch time from our mate DruBoy asking if we wanted to check out a new Mexican restaurant in the Valley.  It's not unusual to get a late request from DruBoy, the last of which was a free ticket to see Jamie Oliver and his crew, an offer in which I would have jumped at if the offer wasn't the next day and in Sydney!  Anyway, this offer was a little less dramatic and always keen to check out new restaurants, we agreed to catch up.

There's been so many high profile restaurants opening in the last few months, it's pretty easy to miss out on the smaller openings and Fiesta Ole was just such a restaurant.  Located on Turbot Street just around the corner from the Valley Woolworths complex, it would be pretty easy to miss the little Mexican diner unless you knew it was there.  Fiesta Ole is actually in a little shop that we used to walk past all the time when doing our shopping in the Valley Woolies which never seemed to have tenants for very long.  It had been ages since we walked past that little shop so we had absolutely no idea that it had changed yet again.

We'd arranged to meet our buds Thommo and DruBoy at Fiesta Ole and given it was a very short walk from our respective homes, we decided that we would walk with just enough time to make our 7pm reservation. Thommo and DruBoy are notoriously late arrivers, so of course we were the first to arrive and while SC grabbed our table, I walked around the corner to the shops to get some cash out.  By the time I arrived back, SC's sangria had arrived as well as some complimentary corn chips and a tomato salsa, which I have to say were the best I've ever had.  So good in fact that by the time Thommo and DruBoy arrived only a few minutes after we sat down, they were completely devoured.

It had been a little while since our last catch up so there was a heap of hand shaking and hugs followed by a really good chat and much belly laughing.  We'd been given our menus to look over, but there was not much time for perusing and decision making, at least not until we'd finished catching up.  It gave me the opportunity to look around the dining room, which was interesting to say the least.  I'm not sure I really liked the colour for the interior, which was cobalt blue, including blue chairs and benches.  There was the obligatory Mexican paraphernalia on the walls including sombreros and other Mexican artefacts.  I also noticed for the first time that there was a little DJ mixing station and a series of disco lights over in one corner of the dining room.

We finally settled down enough to get our orders under way.  The menu itself was a fairly comprehensive representation of Mexican cuisine with lots of traditional looking items and a couple that were marked clearly 'gringo' for those that were a little less adventurous.   DruBoy's a vegetarian and there were a few items on the menu that he was able to order as well (even though every time we catch up I try to get him back to the from the dark side)

While there were some interesting looking items on the menu, I'm always going to go fairly simple when it comes to Mexican, so I ordered some tacos to start off with.  There were two types of tacos, the traditional and the gringo.  Our traditional tacos were delivered first and they looked awesome, made with handmade white tortilla, they were topped with freshly diced onions, coriander and a home made salsa verde.  The two toppings we chose were Mexican chorizo (of course) and carnitas (marinated beef) and I have to say that the chorizo taco was the best I've had.  In fact, it was so good that before I'd even finished it off I'd asked our water to bring over two more!  The sweet and slightly spicy chorizo was just delicious and worked amazingly well as a taco.  The beef was also delicious and the two extra traditional tacos we ordered were chorizo (again) and pork, were also delicious.

The gringo tacos were hard shell tacos and more akin to what you'd experience in a less traditional Mexican restaurant.  The hard yellow shells were packed with lettuce, cheese, sour cream and house made pico de gallo salsa.  We chose the marinated beef again, along with the chicken and both were really nice, especially mixed with the sour cream.  Thommo also ordered the gringo tacos and was a bit disappointed that the taco shells didn't seem cooked and therefore too crunchy, but I didn't mind that because I never cook the shells when making tacos at home (yes, it does happen sometimes!)

The idea with mains was for SC and I to share our dishes, but it didn't really work out that way with SC eating most of the Fiesta Ole sizzling fajitas.  With a choice of chicken or beef fajitas, SC chose the marinated beef cooked with onion, garlic, capsicum and Mexican herbs.  The idea with the fajitas was to wrap the accompanying salsa, cheese, guacamole, lettuce and cream in the heated tortilla.  I did manage to put together one fajita which was nice and spicy (but not too hot), which I really enjoyed.  It was messy putting the tortilla together and felt very authentic, along with the messy fingers and messy table.

I was completely blown away by the size of my main, which looked drastically different from what I was expecting.  Normally when you order picadillo de carne or chilli con carne, it come in a bowl with corn chips and is more like a thick stew that you scoop up with the chips.  The Fiesta Ole version still had the beautiful mince and bean chilli but it was presented on a bed of rice and then covered in sour cream and guacamole.  It seems as if the Fiesta Ole is a much more traditional way of presenting chilli con carne and it was beautiful, with just a little bit of heat that was balanced out with the sour cream and guacamole.  My main issue was that I'd completely filled up on too many tacos and was pretty full before I even started to munch on the chilli dish.  I felt a little guilty because I could only eat about a quarter of the plate before giving up, not that I wanted to - it was delicious, but if I'd kept on eating I would have made myself sick.

Thommo and DruBoy went for some different options for their mains with Thommo ordering the nachos, which looked surprisingly like my chilli con carne but with a bucked load of cheese added.  While there were a couple of vegetarian dishes on the menu, DruBoy went for a taco salad with prawns, which looked pretty amazing.   The idea with the taco salad was to break off bits of the 'taco bowl' and then mix in with the salad. DruBoy had also asked for an extra little kick of spicy sauce and when we checked in what levels of heat were available, he wisely went for the hot-hot as opposed to the 'off-the-scale' chilli sauce that was available.  As it was, the hot-hot brought enough heat to clear the sinuses.

We were having such a good time and enjoying the traditional Mexican cuisine so much that I foolishly decided I would have some dessert.  There were a couple of desserts listed on the menu, which disappointingly were not available.  I was advised that there was a wonderful bread pudding with raspberry sauce available, which Thommo and I went for.....  Big mistake, it was not good, not good at all.  Thommo could not eat it at all and I bravely had a few mouthfuls before deciding that desserts were not Fiesta Ole's strong point.  It looked terrible and tasted worse, so my advice is when you come and check out Fiesta Ole, skip dessert and have another sangria.

I've always loved Mexican food but have more often than not sided with the Australianised version through places like Montazumas.  The few times that I've had more traditional Mexican fare, I've not loved it as much - even at well known Melbourne Mexican restaurant Mamasita (see post here).  I was really impressed with the spread at Fiesta Ole, it was traditional and really, really tasty.

During our visit to Fiesta Ole we'd had a range of service, starting off pretty good with one of the waiters and finishing off not so well.  I think there were a few language barriers with our second waiter of the evening, with it seeming like English was a bit of a struggle.  The dining room is weird, it's in a space that was never really designed to be a restaurant and has a little bit of a 'shop' feel to it, something that is exacerbated by the tables and chairs.  I've not really associated cobalt blue with Mexican cuisine before, but to be honest, I'm no expert in the decorations of South America.

As we were leaving and SC, DruBoy and Thommo paid the bill, the manager of the restaurant asked them all to get onto Urbanspoon and rate their Mexican restaurant with a 'thumbs-up', which possibly accounts for all of single review Urbanspooners rating Fiesta Ole highly.  It's the first time we've been openly petitioned to put up an Urbanspoon review, and I'm not 100% sure if I found it funny or annoying....

Anyway, we had a superb time at Fiesta Ole and found the food to be delicious, especially those traditional Mexican chorizo tacos, a dish that I will be sure to order again real soon!


The sangria to start off SC's meal was pretty decent
The sizzling beef fajita
A cool little candle holder on the table - on a cobalt blue table cloth
The cobalt blue was everywhere, the walls, chairs and tables!
A couple of aztec wall hangings, just to let the diner know that its a Mexican restaurant
And they sold this stuff - not sure what it is, but there was a lot of it

Fiesta Ole' Mexican Cuisine on UrbanspoonFiesta Ole

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