Our maître lost us in the mix, but did not rest until he rescued us and escorted us safely to our table. Once ensconced in comfortable retro chairs at our table, another waiter immediately appeared to suggest perhaps three ladies out on the town might be in need of some vino?
It is a lovely feeling when your needs are so quickly and accurately anticipated.
Next our waiter suggested some guacamole ($12) to nibble on while we pursued the rest of the interesting menu.
Yes, guacamole. Did I mention the underlying Hispanic theme of the hotel? Whilst not immediately noticeable – there are no colourful ponchos adorning the walls, and I only glimpsed one sombrero on the bar– our first hint was when our champagnes arrived in flat glasses, the kind your parents used to keep in the sideboard.
The Mexican theme continued when our wine arrived in a litre carafe and was poured into wine cups. Even the crockery had a distinctive edge.
The menu was a little overwhelming, but in a nutshell seems essentially a tapas / sharing style.
As we had already eyed of the delicious sounding desserts, we decided not to have any more starters and to move straight to the mains.
The girls will understand – it is all about leaving room for the things that really matter. Like wine and desert.
For main, we indulged in Barramundi cooked 'Yucatan' style (read infused with flavour), wrapped in banana leaves then roasted in the wood fired oven. It arrived with little individual "tacos" and a jicama and orange salad to complete the taco meal.
At $33 per person, if I were prone to clichés, I would say this was heaven on a plate.
The other main meal our dining companion ordered was the wood roasted chicken ($35 pp) with autumn leaves, garlic croutons, chestnuts, grapes and pancetta.
Some parts of the chicken on the bone were a little pink for our taste, although we were assured it was indeed cooked, and our waiter happily returned the meal to the kitchen for more roasting. The breast pieces were literally mouth-watering.
We choose a radicchio, witlof and fennel salad with figs, mozzarella, artichokes and walnut dressing for our side salad ($20). The salad was deliciously rich and made for far too much food, but we could not resist it and the unusual flavours were a treat.
Speaking of treats, whilst we were already full, our friendly and patient waiter convinced us we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we did not at least try the desserts.
And how right he was. The chocolate and pear cazuela with salted caramel ($14 pp, min 2 people) tasted a little like sticky date pudding, only much much better. Our friend proclaimed to not like chocolate, but even she happily tucked into the Mexican coffee and tequila flan with drunken cherries ($14).
One of many wonderful dining spots. newmarketstkilda.com.au