We were lucky enough to be invited to a preview dinner to experience Queen of South's modern take on traditional Mexican dishes and flavours. This large new Mexican café is just off Chapel St, so it's a bit quieter than the main stretch of Prahran.
I have to admit I felt a little bit seedy this morning after an extravagant night of decadent cocktails made at the Queen of the South. I'm not really a drinker but the Tropical Slings and Tommy's very strong Margaritas were very hard to resist.
Queen of the South does not look like a Mexican restaurant on the outside or on the inside. It's a swish restaurant with polished concrete floor, black and white accessories and hot pink artworks. They have a range of different styles of seating with bar stools, booths, and regular dining tables and large lush pot plants. It seems strange to comment on the beautiful bathrooms but they were as impressive as they were unexpected. They featured large grey tiles, beautiful fresh hot pink flowers and luxurious deep white sinks to die for.
Okay here's a question for you - and be honest - when I say Mexican, do you immediately think of tacos and burritos or Tacos Bills? Now think again. The Queen of the South is taking Mexican to a whole new level. Billed as a modern take on Mexican, their food will enliven your taste buds and open your eyes to what Mexican can be.
I took my friend who is the self-professed fussy eater and her first comment was 'I really, really, really like it. I would never usually paid to go out to the Mexican when there are so many other things that I like better.' She said to me her only memories of Mexican are of heavy cheese laden food but this is really different. 'It's a different take on Mexican that will push out all of those Taco Bill memories. Even as a poor student I could drop in for one of those delicious corn cups and be sure of a tasty nutritious meal.'
The vasito de Elotes were the star of the show. These sweet corn cups with chipotle mayo and quest fresco were absolutely delicious. It was very spicy, but even if you don't like corn, you will really enjoy these. Served in a cardboard cup with a throwaway wooden spoon it reminded me of many moons ago visiting Mexico and eating street food. I was surprised that these were only seven dollars.
Also, $7 were the Nopales Tostadiva. This is the first time I may have eaten pickled cactus that I know of. This was served with salad and peanut salsa. Despite being served cold this was also tasty and spicy hot.
Not a lover of trout, this dish Oceano trucks looked fabulous albeit busy, served with corn purée and avocado cream. This is a must for fish lovers. Another favourite for others on our table was the lamb cutlets served on a sweet corn purée with sweet spring onions and radish salsa. I'm not a meat eater, but the others described it as a winner, not just appealing to the eye, colourful but also very tender and tasty.
I happened to be seated next to Nat Stockley, who suggested that we rename this restaurant to the Corn and Cutlet after the two very popular dishes. Although it doesn't have the same ring to it, I would rename it Mole Mousse after the decadent rich chocolate desserts with the pistachio praline and Pedro Ximenez creme. It doesn't have the same ring to it, but I can tell you this for nothing… I'm still having regrets about not licking the glass clean!
I can honestly say I don't know why I don't eat Mexican more often. My go to take away is usually pizza, but for the price and tastebud tingling food, it's got to be Mexican. Being invited to Queen of the South was opening a present that you think might be a bowl, and getting the whole damn Royal Doulton set.
This is Mexican but not and you know it. Fresh, hot, spicy and creative. Beam me up Scotty to Mexican Heaven.