The prospect of having Mexican food has only been limited to my imagination and some carefully selected supermarket ingredients from the Old El Paso aisle. This has not been too unfavourable as I cook up a mean Chilli con Carne and this is usually the base for my Nachos, Tacos and Burritos. So when the opportunity to dine out in Fairfield, a suburb not far from the Melbourne CBD, came up I decided to head to Mexican Hacienda for a little bit of a fiesta. I was in for a surprise however as even though the meals were more than filling they lacked a certain something that just made you feel like you were at a restaurant that specialised in Mexican food. Despite the fact that the place has been around for years and it boast the use of fresh ingredients and authentic recipes, it just did not stack up.
To start we ordered the Nachos Supreme which was a cheese layered corn chip stack with salsa, guacamole and sour cream condiments. While the presentation of a volcano of nachos was mildly exciting – the taste was not as explosive as expected. The corn chips were not crispy and an uneven dispersing of the cheese meant many a chip lay topping-less and rather bland. Hopes were still alive for the second starter of a Trio of Dips to have some zing appeal given they were made up of a frijole (bean) dip, chilli cheese dip and a jalapeno dip. Hardly a spicy combination and rather starchy in the taste, the dips were quite uneventful and even the anticipation of jalapeno dip was quashed with a mild, rather tasteless offering.
For our mains a platter or three Tacos sounded promising and a Burrito Del Mar was the selection given that home cooks normally would not cook seafood as part of their Mexican feast (well at least I never have anyway!) Ten points were given for presentation of the Tacos in a circular arrangement with the rice in the middle. The beef and chicken tacos were the winners and had a good amount of taste to satisfy but the frijole con queso taco was nothing but the same bean dip from the starter in a taco shell, sadly uninspiring.
The description for the burrito was creamy prawns wrapped in a flour tortilla and oven baked served with rice and beans. When the waitress came to the table we were told the plate was very hot as it just came out of the oven. This seemed quite perplexing to me as I had to at least check the temperature of the plate (for my own curiosity at least!) Sure enough it was hot but not hot like a warmed plate from a servery – hot as in “Don’t touch it your fingers will cook if they come into contact with it”. I was glad that there were no kids at the table as it would have surely been a touch point (excuse the pun!) When it was cool enough to handle the seafood filling was surprisingly well cooked and creamy like a mornay sauce that belonged on a bowl of pasta. The taste was good but in the heat of Mexico I am not sure a dish like this would work. The rice was a basic mix of quite a bland concoction and the beans was – wait for it – another serve of the frijole dip we had encountered twice before.
I thought the redemption would come from dessert but this was not to be the case. We ordered Chocolate Mousse which came highly recommended as it was the chef’s speciality – this was quite a lacklustre version of mousse that was without any real chocolate flavour and left you feeling like you were eating something put out on a cheap buffet that you were expecting to be bad anyway. The Crème Caramel was not even close to being a highlight despite its unnecessarily decorated plate. The syrup tasted like it was from a bottle and the caramel was definitely not informed that it was supposed to be in this dish.
All in all it was a sad event – only heightened by the surroundings of a restaurant that needed a huge once over to bring in more into today’s world. I honestly think I have had better Mexican turned out from the hobs of my 6 burner stove at home – even with using supermarket ingredients. Mexican Hacienda is not on my list of restaurants well worth eating at as the entire event was a complete let down. The cost of the evening was also on the higher priced part of the scale and considering the food was not up to standard I definitely did not get value for money. Service started out quite attentively but as the place got busier the waitresses were less seen and their attention was hard to get as they bustled to and from the kitchen. There was no mariachi music playing in the background to set the mood – the one sound quite noticeable was the microwave alerting that it had finished its cycle of heating. Sadly, no fiesta to be had here...but I am no Food Critic!