Touché Hombre

8/09/2013 10:37:00 PM

Touché Hombre
I'm sure y'all know by now how I feel about two of Melbourne's dining trends: "Modern Mexican" and no-bookings restaurants. Negatively! (Read my post on Acland Street Cantina for my thoughts on the former). So I wouldn't have chosen to visit Touché Hombre myself, but when my good friend Adri chose it as the venue for her birthday dinner, I was definitely willing to give it a go!

Touché Hombre
233 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9663-0811
Touché Hombre on Urbanspoon

We arrived around six-thirty on a Saturday evening, and I was relieved that there wasn't a queue, although we did have to wait for our entire party to arrive before they would seat us. I found this a bit annoying, especially as the restaurant wasn't even full when we got there, but I guess it makes sense for times when there's a huge line of people waiting.
Touché Hombre
The decor and atmosphere was very hipster - neon lights, high tables and stools, lots of noise reflecting off exposed hard surfaces, and a DJ spinning retro hip hop music. I really liked it, especially the music. (Hip Hop Hooray!) What can I say? Despite my grandma-tendencies, I might just be a hipster at heart.

So: we started with some drinks:
Michelada Bitchin' Mexican Beer Cocktail - Sol, Touché's Salsa, Hombre's Chipotle Purée, served in a beer mug finished w/ fresh lime, ice, a spicy salted rim - $10
And speaking of hipster... look! A cocktail in a mason jar! This beer cocktail was nice and refreshing, a good partner to the spicy food.
Strawberry and Apple Juice - $5.50
Jarritos Toronja (Pink Grapefruit) - $5.50
I know $5.50 is really expensive for a small cup of juice, but I was driving that night, and wanted something a little more interesting than water. It tasted great too - win!

We weren't sure how big or small the items on the menu would be, (and honestly, our waitress wasn't particularly enlightening when we quizzed her about the menu), so we thought we'd order a few little snacky things to start with and then reassess the situation. When the dishes arrived, we were sitting around waiting for our plates and cutlery, and when we finally managed to flag down a waitress, she explained: "we're more of a casual place here and don't give plates and cutlery... but I can go and grab some for you if you want". (She promptly forgot about this, so eventually we just started eating.) I think the lack of cutlery is a bit of a gimmick, but fair enough if they want to go with that vibe. It would have been great if our waitress had explained it when she brought out our food!

But yes, onto the food...
Guacamole - toasted pepitas, pomegranate, queso fresco, tortilla chips - $8
I love guacamole, and I thought the little sweet pops of pomegranate seeds were a great touch. The tortilla chips were nice and crunchy - a good start.

Fatty Lamb Ribs - merquin, lemon, cilantro - $13
"Fatty lamb ribs" are what the menu promised, and fatty lamb ribs are what we got! The meat was super soft and melting, with lots of delicious caramelized fat. I'd love to know how to cook these at home. (I might buy leaner lamb ribs if I were to eat them more frequently though!)

Tostada Pulpo - chargrilled octopus, crab claw, spring onion, coriander and pico de gallo on a crisp fried tortilla - $13
The octopus tostada was all kinds of awesome. I wish I could describe all the different little flavours that were going on, but seriously, the main thing I loved was the big pieces of fresh, tender chargrilled octopus.

Quesadilla de Seta y Huitlacoche - Wild mushrooms, ricotta, pecorino, mint, salsa verde, creme fraiche - $14
I noticed that they didn't translate huitlacoche from Nahuatl to English, but I suppose "pathogenic plant fungus that causes smut disease on maize" isn't the most attractive name. These mushroom and huitlacoche quesadilla were deep fried little pockets, and were so very good that Sandra decided to order another serving for her main.
The remaining three of us chose to share a pork belly platter, which comes with slow cooked pork belly, tortillas, and loads of sides, like avocado, haloumi, chillies, grilled pineapple, pico de gallo, onions and chilli sauce. This is charged at $19 per person, with a minimum order for two people. We decided to ask for two servings, even though there were three of us sharing it. This was a good move, as it was huge!
Plate Carne de Cerdo - Slow-cooked El Pastor-style Pork Belly, Grilled Pineapple, haloumi, Avocado - $19 per person (2 people minimum order) - the above serving is for 2 people

Avocado, grilled pineapple, pico de gallo, pickled onions, hot sauce, grilled onions, grilled chillies, halloumi

Pork belly, avocado, halloumi
I was a big fan of the pork belly platter: the pork was tender and had great flavours from the slow-roasting, and it was fun making up our own tortillas with all the different elements on the plate. Hot tip: sweet grilled pineapple, salty haloumi and rich pork belly are a fab combination.

Choc-chilli, peanut ice-cream sanga - peanut butter parfait, choc-chilli cookie - $9
A peanut ice-cream sandwich - how could I not order it? The chilli was quite subtle, but complemented the dark chocolate cookies well.

Tarta di limon - lime and tequila tart, triple sec marshmallow - $9
The lime tart was small but intense, with a lovely smooth lime curd, pillowy blow-torched marshmallow and a crumbly base. Delicious!

So that was Touché Hombre! I wasn't expecting to love it, but the food was really good and the atmosphere was nice and chilled. The food was a little pricey, but not ridiculously so - importantly, we left full and satisfied and felt that we'd gotten our money's worth. I definitely want to go again.

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  1. Thanks for the review. I've been thinking about trying them for awhile now but also have the qualm about "Modern Mexican". Never will be mistaken for a hipster but the food sounds worth it.

    ps - food geek moment, but huitlacoche is actually Nahuatl language rather than Spanish. Even worse translation - it means "excrement of raven". I think I like the Nahuatl word "chocolate" (xocolatl) better.

  2. Hey Cliff!

    I think it's worth a go - it's not super authentic or cheap, but it is tasty and fun! :)

    Oh whoops! I didn't realise I got the languages mixed up. I have updated my post! My Mexo-phile cousin would have killed me if she'd seen it! Hehehe!

    xox Sarah

  3. Sounds like a winner really! And yes although I love Melbourne that no bookings policy thing just makes things so hard at times and we go somewhere else where you can book.

  4. Oh the menu has completely changed! Must visit their new one that's taken over Claremont Tonic!

  5. I've never been keen to check out Touche Hombre. The crowd is MAD and the noise levels are abysmal each time I've walked past. Then again, that lime tart looks realllll good. Will have to swing by late arvo once day and have it as a pre-dinner dessert =)

  6. Helloooo fatty lamb ribs (and let's be honest, it's because they're so fatty that they taste so good)! Also loving the look of that peanut butter ice cream sandwich too!

  7. I used to DJ at Touche Hombre and was looking for a recipe for the lamb ribs and just saw this.

    Glad you liked the tunes!

    1. Wow, too good! What a cool coincidence :)



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