Prahran’s Queen of the South has catapulted Mexican food into the 21st century with a modern edge on the cuisine’s classics. Juliana Mare got a taste of the preview dinner for their new menu.
When it comes to Mexican food, we Melbournians are utterly predictable; burritos, tacos and guac are our go-to orders and there’s a plethora of restaurants and food trucks that can deliver the goods.
Standing out among the pack though, is Queen of the South, who just launched a new and modern Mexican menu, which makes regular old burritos seem like child’s play.
Wednesday night’s preview dinner was an 11-course homage to flavours and ingredients that are authentically Mexican but haven’t spent much time in the limelight.
Pickled cactus, queso fresco, yellow mole and pasilla glaze – traditional recipes in Mexico but uncommon in the Melbourne food scene. This is what makes the QotS menu so unique and interesting, not to mention flavoursome!
If your regular Tex Mex order is traditional tomato salsa and guacamole then the bold flavours and rich spices, delivered with a modern edge are sure to impress.
One of the more obscure ingredients on the menu came from the Nopales Tostadita.
Pickled cactus salad with peanut de arbol salsa, queso fresco & pequin.
If you assumed that cactus was only good for dessert landscapes, think again. Once the spikes are removed and the plant is pickled, it makes for one hell of a salad!
Similar in taste and texture to a capsicum, this was served mountain high on a crunchy tostada base, spread with a delicious peanut salsa.
The peanut flavour was prominent but not overpoweringly so – the perfect amount to cut through the vinegary pickled flavour and spicy heat of the salad.
An excellent and sinus-clearing dish, this was one of the more intriguing dishes on the menu and definitely one for your food bucket list.
Both of lamb dishes on the menu were outstanding and highlighted two different cooking methods.
The pulled meat trend has well and truly descended across Melbourne and QotS have perfected their slow braised lamb shoulder. This dish is served unassembled so you can build your own soft shell taco and comes with a very generous mountain of tender and stringy lamb.
The cucumber pomegranate salad is a light, refreshing way to cut through the rich meaty flavour and with a drizzle of the nutty salsa on top, you’ve got the perfect taco.
While the pulled lamb was a huge crowd-pleaser, the real talk of the restaurant was the lamb cutlets, which were glazed and charred absurdly well. This is the type of dish that makes you forgo all fine-dining manners, pick the bone up with your hands and lick it clean.
The sweet corn puree deserves a special mention also. It had a thick consistency but was lump-free, smooth and creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness to offset the beautiful char on the cutlets.
Plus there’s a generous enough serving on the plate so that you can smear a good amount onto every bite of lamb.
Vegetarians, fear not! QotS serves a roasted pumpkin dish that would satisfy even the most avid meat-lover!
Soft pumpkin and lentils that were almost stew-like in consistency both had hearty and warm flavours, off-set in texture and flavour by the almond and coconut salsa.
This is a well thought-out dish and the yellow mole ensured all those traditional Mexican spices shone throughout the entire dish.
QotS is without doubt, unlike any other Mexican restaurant in Melbourne. A “more mature style of Mexican dining” is exactly what’s on offer so if you want to take a step back from taco trucks, the refined meals and outstanding flavours at QotS will knock your socks off.
For more Melbourne restaurant reviews, check out Peaches & Push Ups and follow Juliana on Instagram @juliimare.
201 – 209 High St,
Prahran VIC 3181