Nuevo Latino, 553 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0419 589 739
The aroma of new paint tells us Nuevo Latino – in the premises that previously housed the West Footscray video shop – is a fresh enterprise.
But what we see about us conveys a different impression – it’s a fit-out full of bits and pieces, and great vintage furniture, that gives off a happy, relaxed lived-in vibe.
We enjoy our dinner very much.
But the real stars of the night are the staff.
Salvador and Yoko, out front, and Juan and Clarita in the kitchen take care of us in a way that is warm and caring yet never overbearing.
They’re very good and we eventually leave very happy.
And as we walk away, all four of tonight’s Team CTS of four express the hope their new eatery succeeds and prospers.
We try a handful of the tapas and “rations”, and have one each of four of the five mains.
It’s pretty much all good or much better.
Croquettes of bacalao ($3) with what I think is a creamy dill sauce are light, delicate and tasty.
Yuka chips ($7) with “piquant dipping salsa” are wonderful and unlike anything any of us have eaten previously.
They’re crisp/crunchy on the outer; almost powdery and/or molten on the inner.
Grilled corn kernels ($6) have the “wow” factor, too.
According to the menu (see below), they’re dressed in a chilli lime aioli – but the dish tastes to me like there’s more than that going on.
The papa rellena ($4) – “rock salt baked au gratin potato skins, filled with cheese” – are the single dish we order I find less than memorable.
Nothing bad about them; they simply come and go without leaving an impression.
And now the mains …
The most impressive looking of our mains is carne asada ($21).
The beef strip, threaded on to a wicked-looking dagger/sword, is nice and salty, chewy in a good way and all sorts of wonderful.
It’s not my main so I’m grateful the companion whose it is spares me some nice chunks.
That’s for me next time!
As with all our mains, the accessories – in this case corn tortillas, pico d’gallo and salad – are fine.
“Pupusaw” $16 have that required full-on corn flavour and are gooey with cheese.
They’re served with pickled vegetables and refried beans.
Tamales ($18) are plain but satisfying, also having that corn thing going on.
“Quinoa envoltini” ($28) is a treat of chicken stuffed with spinach, pepitas and quinoa.
It’s mild of flavour but well done and enjoyable.
We have been kind of hoping for desserts along the lines of a flan or creme caramel.
We’re told such is on the way, but we’re happy with our meal and choose to pass on the churros that are available.
After all, the place has been open only a week.
But then Juan presents us with a couple of complementary cups of blood orange gelati (sorbet?).
They’re terrific – sweet, rich and sourish – and a perfect way to end our dinner.
See another Melbourne blogger’s take on Nuevo Latino here.