Señoritas
16 Meyers Place
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9639 7437

One Friday night after work, I met Miss A and Miss Z for dinner. Miss A had been keen to try Chin Chin, but I persuaded them both to try Senoritas, a newish Mexican place on Meyers place at the Parliment end of town. I managed to make a 6.00pm booking for the 3 of us only a few days before – I LOVE that there are still some places that take bookings as I am really sick of waiting in line for hours.

I met them outside (I was taking photos of their amazing neon sign when they showed up) and so we walked in together. We were swiftly shown to our seat and our jackets were taken – nice touch. We were seated down the back against a wall decorated in Mexican memorabillia.

We were given menus and our waitress guided us through it without prompting: it’s split into share plates, soups, mains, sides and dessert, with the region of each dish listed beside it. We were told to order 3-4 share plates each plus 1 or two mains and a side, which sounds a lot but was spot on. We had trouble deciding, so I asked our waitress to recommend her favourite dishes, which we ended up ordering.

Given it was a Friday night, we began with cocktails – margaritas to be exact. Senoritas boasts an extensive tequila selection, along with a range of imported beer and wines from Mexico and Spain. They have a great range of cocktails on offer, though at $18 each for our margaritas, they ‘aint cheap. Miss Z and I opted for the passionfruit, while Miss A went for the pomegranate. Yum – not too sweet.

As we sipped our margaritas, our waitress brought over some corn chips and 3 salsas of varying heat in little terracotta pots – very cute. We were warned about the hottest salsa, but each tried it without imploding.

The food came in good time. First up was the Aguachile vuelve a la vida – a ceviche of kingfish and scallops cured in lime juice with serrano chilli, red onion and cucumber ($15.00). The seafood was beautifully fresh and when cured in the lime juice tasted as though it was almost cooked. The cucumber counteracted the heat of the cayenne pepper sprinkled over the dish nicely, though was not sliced uniformly resulting in an uneven distribution of slices when I divided the dish up. It was also quite a meager portion for a ‘sharing dish’, as it only took about a bite and a half and it was gone.

Next up was a special that night: crab and chipotle mayo tostadas. While the filling was delicious, we all found the tostadas to be too thick and hard, making them difficult to eat. The little cubes of lime it came with were also useless when it came to squeezing over the crab meat which was disappointing.

The tacos matteo – grilled prawn tacos with mexican rice, refried beans, tomato, avocado and chipotle mayo ($8 for 2) – that arrived next were a little uninspiring, and very small. Literally about the size of the palm of my hand, they weren’t the prettiest looking dish of the night, but were tasty. It was nice to see that they had gone to the effort to heat up the tortillas, which a lot of Mexican places around don’t bother with. It makes all the difference.

For our final starter, based on the advice of our waitress, we chose the Tamal de pato – traditional corn parcels filled with duck & tamarind mole, served with a fresh tomato salsa ($10 for 2). My advice: don’t order these. They are stogy, tasteless and dry, a real disappointment.

We decided we would just order one main and went for the Arrachera divorciada – grain-fed porterhouse served with cactus salad & peanut arbol salsa ($32.00). We were curious to try the cactus salsa, having seen it used on Masterchef that week. What arrived was a very traditional looking dish, slathered in a bright orange sauce. It was nice enough, cooked well (we asked for medium rare) though a little tough and chewy. The cactus was similar in texture to roast capsicums, and tasted like melon or cucumber.

To go with our porterhouse, we were talked into a side of the Arroz a la mexicana, tomato flavoured rice with peas, corn & cactus ($6.00) by our waitress. It was very similar to the Mexican rice Bf-B made for his Taco night.

For dessert, Senoritas allows you to choose 3 of their 5 dessert options as a tasting plate ($18.00, or $7.00 individually). We went for: the capirotada (mexican bread pudding with sugar cane, peanuts, raisins and queso fresco); the flautas maria felix (rolled cinnamon tortilla filled with cream cheese and plum pisco); and the chocolate dia de muertos (dark chocolate and chilli ganache with house made guava jelly and pedro ximenez). The remaining two options were rice pudding and a home made ice cream, making our decision easy.

My favourite was perhaps the chocolate dia de muertos, a smooth, rich chocolate ganache sprinkled with cayenne pepper for a hit of spice. The flautas maria felix wasn’t bad either, though the bread pudding was a bit stodgy.

I was a bit disappointed with Senoritas. It’s a gorgeous place: dark with amazing red light fittings and lots of Mexican ornaments. But the food.. it just missed the mark too often. Nothing really wowed me as being exceptional. I am especially disappointed as I had left the choosing to our waitress and assumed she would pick the best dishes. Shame.

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