Mezcal has a Sydney home with the recent opening of Mr Moustache in Bondi Beach.
You’ll find the intimate 50-seat venue tucked away inside Bondi’s Adina development site at the former Hakoah Club. Walk past A Tavola and it’s located before the sign for burgers and ribs.
The Mexican Bistrot and Cantina is the project of owners Bildo Saravia and his wife Regina Bueno Ros, whose passion for the agave spirit and Mexico flows like the house Mezcal.
French-inspired but Mexican at heart, the cantina’s fit out is the work of Tamsin Johnson Interiors, a mix of art deco style with French elegance juxtaposed with a casual and colourful kitchen.
“Mexico is a clash of contrasts”, Bildo Saravia explains. The French concept harks back to the time of Portifiro Diaz’s period of power, the man who liberated Mexico from the French at the time of Napoleon and later became a dictator.
Sit along the 10-seater white marble top bar to watch all the bar action. You can also settle along the banquettes that line up one wall with the graphic artwork of a moustached gentleman wearing a blindfold that is known to be used in Masonic circles. He is the work of Mexican artist Gildo Medina and the public face of Mr Moustache which also features on the peep-through menu.
Mezcal and Spirits
At Mr Moustache, Mezcal reigns on the back bar and in cocktails. The owners import their own range and with Bar Manager, Brett Harris’ extensive knowledge – ex-El Topo and Cafe Pacifico – you can be sure to appreciate the nuances of the smoky agave spirit.
House Mezcal, Kidney Beans with Chilli
The house Mezcal is Nuestra Soledad Mezcal, an entry level spirit that is remarkably smooth. It goes well in cocktails and suits a novice drinker.
L-R: Bittersweet Margay, El Trago del Jefe
The cocktail list makes it easy to choose depending on your preference for something sweet, sour, or refreshing. Not all are based on Mezcal and you’ll find a selection of beer and international wines available by the bottle and the glass.
For something bitter to kick start the appetite, choose the Bittersweet Margay ($14), a Negroni style cocktail made with Mezcal, Punt e Mes and Antica Formula. Or if you prefer an unusual twist on a Martini, El Trago del Jefe ($16) made with Mezcal and Szechuan-infused vermouth stirred over ice hits the right spot. Don’t miss The Agave Penicillin ($16), a drink based on Sam Ross‘ contemporary classic but uses a Mezcal float instead of a peated whisky.
Guacamole with Beetroot Chips
Chef Pablo Galindo heads the kitchen and has created a tapas style menu of Mexican cantina food that is full on flavour.
Start with Guacamole with Beetroot Chips ($10) scooping the spicy dip with the soft and salted beetroot pieces. They are good enough to eat on their own.
Tostaditas come as three pieces per serve and are all gluten-free. Tostaditas Huitlacoche ($12 for 3) with black corn truffle, roasted corn and fresco cheese is a tasty and earthy morsel of the truffle that grows inside the husks of corn.
Tostaditas Pato ($12 for 3) is made with duck that has been braised for four hours, with refried beans, red onion and sour cream. The duck meat is juicy with a good chilli kick.
Taco Cochinita ($6 a piece) packs a lot of flavour with braised spiced pork, pickled red onion and habanero salsa.
Tacos Pescado Baja
Tacos Pescado Baja ($6 each) have beer-battered fish, pickled cabbage and chipotle mayo – a rather filling option if you’re very hungry.
Caldo de Camarón
Caldo de Camarón ($8) is a deliciously spiced prawn soup that sings with flavour without being too heavy. Sip it then scoop out the tiny shrimps and carrots with a spoon from the bottom of the glass – a soup not to shared.
Gloves for Tortita Ahogada
Order the signature dish, Tortita Ahogada ($13), and you will be presented with a rubber glove.
Pour the hot arbol chili sauce – and we mean hot – over the braised pork mini sandwich, mix it in the plate and eat it with your hands. It’s the hottest dish on the menu. Chase it down with an icy cold Pacifico beer. You’re going to need it.
Mr Moustache Artwork
Desserts tempt with options such as Guava Creme Brulee ($9) and Platanos Machos ($8), a serving of plantain sauteed with coffee liqueur and burnt goats milk with a side of vanilla ice cream.
If you’re a novice to Mezcal or an aficionado, don’t miss the range of El Jolgorio Mezcal on offer. There are nine variants of the artisanal spirit made from wild agave. They range from $12 to $40 a glass.
El Jolgorio Mezcal
El Jolgorio Tepeztate is light and floral on the nose with traces of ethanol but has a lovely earthy flavour on the palate with a lingering finish. El Jolgorio Mexicano is very soft on the nose with an almost indiscernible aroma but a floral character on the palate, less alcohol burn and a short finish – a more “feminine” style of Mezcal.
El Jolgorio Madrecuixe has a pungent earthy nose with truffles and a long lingering finish. At $15 a shot, it offers the best value for money and flavour. But if you like your Mezcal to smack you in the head with a smoky, earthy, sweet and warming extra long finish, you can’t go past El Jolgorio Tobala ($20). It’s worth your dollar.
Tapatio Excelencia Extra Anejo Tequila
Other top drops are Los Danzantes Agave Tobala Joven Mezcal and Tapatio Excelencia Extra Anejo Tequila, dubbed the “rum of tequila”, ultra smooth with lingering vanilla, caramel and an oaky finish.
L-R: Brett Harris (Bar Manager), Bildo Saravia and Regina Bueno Ros (Owners)
L-R: Bildo Saravia, Pablo Galindo (Chef), Sam Connolly (Chef), Regina Bueno Ros
Spying through the Menu
Mr Moustache brings fun and good times with tasty Mexican street food and Mezcal sips to Sydney. The dishes are full on flavour, the ambience is buzzy and service is knowledgeable and friendly. The range of agave spirits is impressive that you’ll be back to work your way through them.
The vibe is extremely welcoming from the moment you step inside and the owners greet you like old friends, to later in the night when they offer to link hands over a portable contraption that emits an electrical charge (see 3 photos up). The nature of the friendly Bondi patrons makes is easy to strike conversations at the bar and compare dishes. And if you’re the shy type, just hold up the menu to your eyes and you can spy on your neighbour’s food.
Mezcal, Mexico and Mr Moustache, we say Bienvenido a Bondi.
Update 21 March 2014: Click here for the new cocktail list by Mike Tomasic.
69-71 Hall Street (past A Tavola and before the blue sign for burgers and ribs)
Bondi Beach, NSW
Hours: Monday – Friday: 5:00 p.m — 11:00 p.m.
Saturday: Breakfast – 10:00 a.m to 12:00 noon; All day Menu – 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: Breakfast – 10:00 a.m to 12:00 noon ; All day Menu: 12:00 noon — 10:00 p.m.
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