DELECTABLE DINING

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In every issue of St Kilda Bites we are proud to feature a truly special restaurant that produces irresistible and unique food, one that the St Kilda Bites team would have no hesitation to recommend for a memorable dining experience. Fonda Windsor in Chapel Street filed by our new food critic, Charlie Balaclava, is our choice for this instalment of our ‘high end’ dining supplement

Mexican of Modernity – Fonda Windsor

Ever since Mexican food Paso Dobled its way into Australian homes in the 1970s, it has excited and intrigued those who fell in love with a flavor exhilaration that, to them, was as foreign and exotic as it was delicious. Back then though, in the 70s, when airhostesses lived a life of glamour and would gladly light your cigarette inflight, Mexico was a country most Australians knew of but had never actually been to.

Our only touch point with what we thought was Mexican food turned out to be as Mexican as Pizza Hut was Italian. Fast-forward 40 odd years though and it turns out that our love affair with Mexican food has matured and become much more sophisticated. Within the spectrum of Mexican food spanning all the way from TexMex cantina’s right through to the most traditional of restaurants, a modern yet reverent take on the cuisine has given rise faster than a Mariachi Band’s volume levels.

I dub it ‘ModMex’; short for Modern Australian-Mexican fusion, it’s all about great products (traditional and non-traditional) and using them respectfully in a Mexican yet modern way.

One restaurant nailing this ModMex philosophy here in Melbourne is the team from the Fonda Mexican group. Opening their second premises earlier this year, Fonda Windsor on Chapel St, the boys from that cozy Richmond establishment have turned this previously cavernous space into a beautifully comfortable, contemporary venue with gorgeous, white painted brick walls, black warehouse beams, industrial warehouse lighting and warm, inviting wood features. It’s the kind of space that’s a pleasure just to be in.

Fonda Windsor has managed to successfully produce an original venue while retaining the open kitchen and all the intimacy and charm of Fonda Richmond, only with a much more inner-urban attitude… and elbowroom.

Fonda’s Head Chef, Travis Humphery, says Fonda’s food is naturally uncomplicated and is denatured as little as possible by him and his team. With most dishes only consisting of a few ingredients and components, Travis said that while his food isn’t strictly the most traditional, with offerings such as the Kangaroo Fillet Burrito, it is true to the flavours and techniques of Mexican cuisine.

With this in mind we start with the house-made corn chips; thick and crunchy, they challenge everything you thought you knew about corn chips. With the possibility of being the easiest dish to pass over on the menu as you venture your way towards the quesadillas and burritos, I urge you to do yourself a favour and order the corn chips. Served with an honest chunky guacamole and a smoky Tomato Salsa with a beautiful warming heat, when combined with the Charred Corn on the cob smothered in Chipotle Aioli, salted ricotta and served with lime wedges, it’s the perfect introduction to the Fonda experience.

The famous Fonda Fish Tacos were an absolute standout for the evening and, to be fair, have a cult following of their own within the ranks of Fonda converts amassing across Melbourne. A gorgeous soft taco with Market Fresh Rockling coated in rice flour and crisp fried before being bedded with pickled carrot, red cabbage and Chipotle Aioli. Delightfully soft and satisfyingly crunchy, the smokiness of the Chipotle wove around the flavours of the Rockling and vegetables before being punctuated by the pickled carrot.

The Chicken Quesadilla was a warm pocket of moist, roasted chicken and Queso Fresco wrapped in a crisp, nut-brown toasted tortilla and dressed with an avocado cream. With the Queso Fresco and avocado cream, the Chicken Quesadilla is quite mild and a safe option for those who like it a little milder.

The Vegetarian Quesadilla was a true dish to remember and came with the same crunchy tortilla casing and fresh cheese, but stuffed this time with winter vegetable and served with a tomato chili relish that pleasantly resembled more closely the texture of a gel rather than a traditional relish. With strong, comforting flavours and an almost gelatinous texture that sets off the tortilla, it was one of the most enjoyed dishes of the night.

The Beef and Quinoa burrito was lighter than traditional brown rice options and contained generous portions of charred, earthy beef. While, granted, it wasn’t the easiest to eat (especially with the kind of grace maybe a first date might require), a scoop of smoked tomato relish left over from the corn chips sure made that burrito sing.

We rounded out the mains with a Pumpkin Salad that was so simply rustic yet perfectly constructed with a thick smear of Goat Curd around the serving bowl before being filled with the large, pannacotta-soft pumpkin wedges, green lentils, chickpeas, parsley and pico de gallo. It’s a delicious accompaniment to easily any dish on the menu.

Finally, to round out the ModMex experience, we ordered the Chocolate Mousse and Chili Chocolate Truffles. The Chocolate truffles, dusted with bitter coco, had an unctuous, chewy texture and beautiful dry chili finish that took over from the bitterness of the coco.

The real stand out though was the Chocolate Mousse; set in a jug, the twin layered white and dark chocolate mouse is generously sprinkled with praline that added both a caramel tone to the white chocolate top-layer as well as a relief from the ultra-fine smoothness that envelops and coats the tongue.

Even though my dinning partner commented that she thought the dark chocolate could have used a chili hit, I couldn’t help but think to myself “just because you’re in Mexico, doesn’t mean you have to always drink tequila”, but, I must admit, a chili hit would have been a good addition for those that like it, but I can’t say the dish was missing anything. This is totally a destination desert.

Fonda Windsor is the must-do ModMex experience, and with their atmospheric loft bar ‘Atico’ upstairs; there’s more to Fonda Windsor than you thought you knew.

 

Fonda Windsor

144 Chapel St, Windsor

Open 7 days & nights from Midday

Ph: 9521 2660

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