Tex-Mex sanctuary

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Muyrico, Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, Point Cook. Phone: 0424 101 020

We’re in Point Cook for some Mexican food – or, more accurately – some Tex-Mex tucker.

Our most recent adventure along those lines – on the other side of the freeway, at another shopping centre – had hardly thrilled us, so why our upbeat mood?

Because Muyrico’s Rupantar Dey has approached us with a view to doing a review (see full disclosure below).

We like his style and honest approach so we are quietly hopeful.

That optimism turns out to be well founded.

Rupantar and partner Gaurav Verma have a nice little operation going at Sanctuary Lakes shopping centre.

The food is cheap and tasty.

Keep in mind this shopping centre food court fare and a nice time can be had.

 

 

We start with a range of the lads’ snacky items – flaky pastry beef empanada ($1.50 each), devilled chook leg ($1.80) and corn fritters ($2.50 for three).

These are all fine.

The fritters especially impress – they’re simple, light, moist, chewy and corny, and much better than the very similar spring onion pancakes we sometimes try in Chinese places.

 

 

Our quesadila ($10.90) is a messy treat.

The flour tortilla is toasted after being stuffed with pulled pork, cheese and beans, the whole lot then anointed with sour cream, guacamole, corn and tomato.

 

 

Our chimichanga ($10.90) has a chicken filling, but in most regards this deep-fried burrito shares much with our quesadila, only it’s a bit more stodgy.

Kinda like a cheerful Tex-Mex take on an old-school chiko roll – and I suspect there’s folks for whom that description will be a big, fat green light!

 

 

Desserts?

The chocolate mousse and cinnamon rice pudding ($6, but soon to be – I’m told – $4.50) are, as expected, sinfully rich – and with consistencies more like soup than pudding!

Gaurav and Rupantar tell me Muyrico is going good, though they’re still feeling their way to what works best for the demands of their location and customers.

They’re especially pleased with their bustling home delivery service.

Muyrico is open until 9.30pm seven nights a week.

Check out the Muyrico website here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Muyrico as guests of management. No money changed hands. Our food was chosen by CTS. Muyrico management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)

 

Bumpy landing

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Montezuma’s Mexican Restaurant & Bar Williams Landing, T23/102 Overton Road, Williams Landing

This year, CTS has indulged in a couple of meals at Melbourne Mexican restaurants with reputations for authenticity.

Such are the continuous, unstoppable, nifty ways humans operate that “authenticity”, when soberly analysed in just about any setting (food or otherwise), is seen to be something of the ultimate straw man.

Origins of pasta, anyone?

Still, we were surprised just how little “wow” we found in those meals.

Maybe true blue Mexican is simply not for us?

And, gosh, tacos that amount to little more than a couple of mouthfuls can, over the course of a hungry meal, add up to more dollars than expected.

 

 

We were forced to acknowledge, somewhat to our surprise, that we actually may prefer the hybrid food usually referred to as Tex-Mex and as served rather well – we think – by our local.

So we are quite happy to rock up to Montezuma’s at Williams Landing.

It’s part of a franchise deal that has close to 20 eateries around the country, though this is the first in Victoria.

It’s located around the corner from the Williams landing shopping centre itself, and right next door to an also-newish Chinese place we have yet to check out thoroughly.

Montezuma’s is decked out, inside, in a predictable fashion and looks inviting in a familiar way.

But it’s a nice sunny day so we choose, for once, to go alfresco.

 

 

Bennie’s full pulled pork nachos appear rather hum-drum and are up there in price at $19.90.

But they work well and he enjoys his meal.

And there’s a heap of very good pulled pork – better than served in many non-barbecue specialist places – under all the usual trimmings pictured.

 

 

A side serve of guacamole ($4.90) and corn chips ($3) are just OK, but we are surprised we have to request hot sauce for our table when we have become so used to having a range of saucy bottles already provided – at all sorts of eating places.

 

 

The Montezuma’s menu is extensive and there are many combinations to be had.

Mine, the #17 Speedy Gonzales, costs $19.90 and comes with a beef taco, chilli con carne, corn chips and salad.

It is dull.

All is perfectly edible, but there’s simply no zing.

The chilli con carne is particularly lame.

Maybe it’s from a fresh batch, but the beans, meat and gravy in no way coalesce.

Worse, that gravy tastes all tomato and no seasoning; no appreciable tang of salt, pepper, chilli, cumin, lemon or anything else.

My taco is of drab food court standard, while the salad is the best of my meal.

A couple of bottles of Jarritos soft drink have pushed our lunch-time bill out to the $60 mark.

And that seems quite a lot for a meal that will be hastily consigned to the most deeply buried files in the CTS memory bank.

Maybe we arrived with unrealistic expectations.

Check out the Montezuma’s website, including menu, here.

Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill

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Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill, Highpoint, 120-200 Rosamond Rd, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 4623

After expressing our somewhat surprising – to us – affection for the works of Guzman y Gomez, a friend suggested we check out Salsa’s, housed in the very same shopping centre.

So I did.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to resist making a direct comparison between the two fast-food Tex-Mex outlets.

For starters, while Guzman y Gomez is set up in such way as to at least make a handy grab at sustaining its own vaguely groovy ambiance, Salasa’s has no such luck.

It’s situated right out there, just another outlet in a giant, circular shopping centre food court of little or no soul.

As well, the menus of the two places are remarkably alike.

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Corn chips and guacamole ($4.50) are OK.

The corn chips may be crisp, but they are about as bland as corn chips can get – one extreme of corn chippery, with the toxic likes of Doritos at the other.

The guacamole is of the smooth, blended variety with some texture from red onion and a little tomato.

But it’s not as swell as the chunky stuff at Guzman y Gomez.

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My original beef burrito ($8.95) is a stodgy disappointment.

My fault – the use of the phrase “Texas beef” should have alerted me to the use of ground meat; I should have opted for a burrito that had real meat and black beans.

As it is, my burrito is very heavy on the rice with no discernible cheese element. I can see some fresh stuff like tomato and onion but can’t taste or feel it.

The “Texas beef” is OK – a bit like a cross between chilli con carne and bolognese – but just seems a little weird in a heavy-going burrito that goes unfinished.

 

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Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria

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Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria, Highpoint, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9988 1401

We attended the opening night of Guzman Y Gomez at Highpoint to take advantage of and really enjoy the free burritos.

We’ve been back several times since.

But this unusual – for us – Sunday dinner trip feels a little different.

We’ve been unable to decide between his preferences – spicy Asian or Indo-Chinese in Footscray – and my own for something a little less familiar, further afield and/or blog-worthy.

We pull over for a quick tactical discussion and then we’re happily off to Highpoint.

And we’re not going because other chores have taken us to Highpoint.

Nor is it about Bennie’s dad giving his son an always desired fast-food experience.

No, we’re headed this way because we really, truly do enjoy the food here.

This seems something of a revelation – who would’ve thunk it?

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The guacamole (plastic tub) and corn chips (paper bag) cost $5 and are super.

It seems a little surreal to be eating something as fresh and tasty as this gorgeous, chunky guacamole amid such a typically fast-food ambiance.

The corn chips have changed and no longer have such a distinctive thickness or texture. These are still good and crunchy, though. They appear to be unsalted – but we prefer that over too much salt.

And we love them not only dipped in the avocado dip but also in the zippy, smoky, complementary chipotle Tabasco (plastic tub).

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Bennie gobbles up his beef quesadilas ($8.50, cardboard tray) with gusto and relish.

They appear to be a bit skimpy on substance to me, though.

Especially when compared to the house burritos.

Indeed, so good and hefty are these that I have long since abandoned the full-size models for the “mini” version.

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My “mini” pork chipotle burrito ($6.90, cardboard tray) is fantastic.

The pork is tender and not so spicy, while the rice and black beans are in just the right proportions.

And as with the avocado, so it is with the cheese in my burrito – who ever heard of eating cheese in a fast-food joint that has really good, significant flavour of, um , cheese?

We treat ourselves to a couple of Jarritos – Mexican cola for him, guava for him. And even these seem a pretty fair deal at $4 each in light of the amounts charged at franchise joints for regulation non-fancy soft drinks.

We reckon Guzman Y Gomez is superior to a similar operation at Southern Cross station and another that has been hitting the west lately.

 

Chilli con carne

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After enjoying a good bowl of chilli con carne at Liquid Yarraville, I resolve to make some myself.

I may have done so some time in the faded past, but if so I cannot recall.

My only Mexican recipe book has no recipe for same, but that’s no surprise as it’s not exactly a top-shelf publication, if you get my drift.

As well, I suspect there’s very little Mexican about chilli con carne in terms of how most of us think of it – it’s more like your south-west US thing.

This recipe is the result of scanning a half-dozen or so versions found in Louisiana community cookbooks River Road Recipes and Talk About Good!

For such an easy, “knock together” recipe, the result is surprisingly, gratifyingly delicious and deep of flavour.

I reckon I can do better, though, in terms of tweaking the seasoning, and I know Bennie’ll love it.

We hardly ever use mince in our joint, but that could change …

Maybe a little less sugar, more chilli and some oregano? Maybe more cumin, roasted and ground?

Smoked paprika?

Any tips?

(I used red capsicum instead of green, because I had a good one in the fridge; and I used red onion because of ditto …)

INGREDIENTS

olive or other oil

1 can red beans

1 can tomato puree

1/2 red capsicum, chopped

1 onion, chopped

450g minced beef

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon chill powder

3 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup water

METHOD

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

2. When hot, cook meat, capsicum and onion for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add seasonings and tomato puree.

4. Cook over medium heart for about 10 minutes.

5. Add drained beans and cook on Very Low Heat for at least an hour and a half.