Latin rhythms blend in harmony with the diners’ chatter. Here at Media Luna, the ambience is relaxed and welcoming, much like the village atmosphere of Clovelly in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Tonight, the intimate Mexican restaurant near the roundabout of Clovelly Road and Arden Street is running at near full capacity.
I start with the recommended cocktail, a Lime Margarita ($15) made with fresh lime, Tequila and Cointreau. The first sip affirms its status as the signature cocktail. The blend of citrus and sweetness is perfectly balanced against the Tequila. The second confirms that it is the best Margarita I have had. Ever.
Mr G orders the Deluxe Anejo Margarita ($23), made with fresh lime, Grand Marnier, Anejo Mezcal, served in a half-salt and half-chilli rimmed glass. The taste is beautifully smoky and lingering on the palate. Niko steps out from behind his bar to ask if we’re enjoying the cocktails, a lovely personal touch which gives us an opportunity to compliment his libations.
The dining room is decorated with semi-crescent moons and brightly coloured stars which are symbolic of Mexico. I feel as if I am back in my cousin’s apartment with her collection of Mexican artefacts collected during the years she lived in Mexican City. Pictures hanging on the walls are replicas of La Loteria Mexicana, a traditional Mexican game similar to Bingo.
Though our table for two is the last one at the rear of the restaurant, its secluded and intimate location has an advantage. It affords us behind the scene glimpses at the workings of the kitchen and the bar.
Our host Edgar is extremely gracious and welcoming. He is passionate about the dishes when he ask him to explain the specials. And when the first course arrives, his hearty buen provecho (bon appetit) takes me back in time to my Spanish classes at university.
We start with an entrée to share from the specials menu. Quesadilla de Tinga Y Flor de Calabaza tastes as good as it looks. The pulled chicken in chipotle sauce is presented in a green tortilla with bright zucchini flowers peeking from the sides.
The sauce is spicy and sharp, adding another dimension of flavour to the shredded chicken. A generous serving for one person and quite adequate to share between two people.
I order a signature dish, Enchiladas De Mole Poblano ($22.90) and immediately take a liking to the colour complements on the plate. Under a chilli cocoa sauce, the corn tortillas are filled with shredded chicken and topped with onion rings and fresh cheese. The main course is served with Mexican rice and beans, a mild flavour in comparison to the rest of the ingredients. The chilli cocoa sauce is more subtle than I had expected which gives the robust dish a complexity of flavours I love.
Mr G orders the Cochinita Pibil ($23.90), described as a traditional Mayan dish of pork marinated in Achiote paste served with Mexican style rice, mixed lettuce, Habanero chilli and pineapple sauce. The soft tortillas are used to scoop the shredded pork. With this dish, you feel as if you are taking part in centuries of culinary traditions.
With the arrival of the main courses, we move on to a jug of Sangria. Although it is enjoyable and goes down very easily, I should have stayed with the Lime Margarita, a more apt accompaniment to the heat of the ingredients from the main courses. And because I was secretly craving another.
The staff at Media Luna are very friendly and attentive to the diners’ needs. Edgar works the room with charm and ensures we are enjoying ourselves. With the melange of great food, delicious cocktails, warm service and a convivial ambience, I could easily be somewhere in Europe or Latin America.
With only two choices available, we skip dessert and coffee ask for a little after dinner drink that would go down well with the meal we’ve had. Niko the barman, enthusiastically suggests his B52. A layer of Kahlua at the bottom, topped by Baileys and finished with a thin layer of Cointreau that ends up in flames. Sipped from a straw, from bottom to top.
After cocktails and sangria, sipping the three layers of alcohol equally through a short straw proves to be a little difficult for me. The first sip nearly empties the Kahlua leaving the Cointreau flirting with the Baileys.
You can’t help but admire the décor of the restaurant. The combination of bold colours, designs and ornaments give it an ambience like a fiesta.
There’s a mermaid on a door and more scenes from the Loteria adorning the walls and doors.
A trip to the unisex bathroom offers a chance to view more of the decorations on the walls and the interior of the amenities.
The unisex bathroom is worth a visit to check out more of the interior, though the men may not like to stare at the scary face ahead while using the amenity.
The number of diners begins to dwindle which reminds us that time has passed too quickly. Niko, the barman, presents us with a complimentary after dinner drink served in a shot glass.
It tastes a little like a Margarita of sorts, made with Curacao instead of Cointreau. I can easily drink another but like all good things in moderation, I prefer to come back with friends to enjoy more of Media Luna has to offer.
And another Lime Margarita.
309 Clovelly Rd
Clovelly NSW 2031
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