Moving away from its initial focus on a Mexican Chinese fusion the revamped Mexican Society is now serving up more traditional Mexican fare, described as what the chefs would eat at home. An impressive menu with an abundance of choice complements an equally impressive drinks list and tequila menu. The menu is divided into small, entrée sized dishes called Beach Cantina and then the larger options are under the Restaurante heading. The beauty in this menu is that you can order each dish in large or small – perfect for those who, like us, like to try an array of dishes.
It was a tight contest but the Duck Nachos was our dish of the day. This colourful and attractive dish is layers of yumminess. Crispy tortilla chips are well seasoned with a hot and smoky paprika and they are thick enough that even the ones loaded with topping at the bottom of the bowl remain sturdy enough to hold toppings at the end. Generous bites of shredded, rich duck meat are found throughout the bowl. The fresh elements of kernels of corn, chopped spring onion and tomato cubes brighten the dish mix in with the delicious sauce. The best bit was the topping to chip ratio which was magically precise. We mopped up the very last mouthful of topping with the last (still crunchy) chip an occurrence all too rare in the nacho world.
A Soft Shell Crab Taco is a regular on menu’s these days and safe to say it’s a crowd favourite. Here we have a whole crab, cut in halves, fried in a light salt and pepper style batter. A cherry tomato salsa is a unique addition and draws in the Mexican flavours. Iceberg lettuce and snow pea tendrils add the required fresh component and a fermented chilli mayo is full of smokiness but lacking heat.
Poking through the bowl of Pomegranate Duck Salad with a fork reminded me of going through a jewellery box in an antique store; a sense of anticipation and so many surprises. As I dug I found thinly sliced radish, slices of fennel, juicy orange segments, coriander leaves and morsels of duck. Most unexpectedly the salad green was chopped up bok choy, an interesting play and a nod to the restaurants Chinatown placement. Forever entertaining and interesting to eat it, but it felt swamped by the liberal application of lime-guajilo vinaigrette, which was sweet and pleasing but not required in that quantity.
A hearty main course perfect for sharing (or having all to yourself) is the Lamb & Mezcal Fajitas. Large chunks of rich, succulent lamb are presented in a sizzling hot bowl atop black beans, a caramelised onion and capsicum mix and coriander rice that has a delicate sweetness. I was surprised when there was not salsa/guac or another condiment to add but when wrapped up in a flour tortilla there was sufficient moisture and it was not necessary.
We both agreed we would be headed back to Mexican Society for the Baja California Style Char-Grilled Octopus. First we tasted the salsa of tomato, cucumber and onion with guajillo dressing. It was fresh and delicious. The dollops of parsley pesto mixed with the salsa, velvety in texture, it was heavy in vinegar – which played off the smoky octopus nicely. The grilled octopus tentacle was tender and a delight to eat. This dish transports you straight to a beach BBQ and in this instance we regretted not ordering the large serve.
My fellow diner looked at me like I was a little crazy when I insisted on ordering the baked Angel Hair pasta Fideo Seco with 3 Chillis. I get it; pasta is an unusual choice at a Mexican restaurant. But there was something about the 3 types of chilli and the combination of pasta and guacamole that intrigued me. The gamble paid off and we both loved the dish. First we explored the nest of thin, perfectly cooked pasta, applauding how the stands stayed separate and didn’t fall to a gluggy, messy fate. The sauce of 3 chillies brought an earthy quality to the light tomato base. It was by no means hot but after a few mouthfuls the back of the palate became aware of a deep warmth. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the guacamole tied in well with the dish. After all, avocado and tomato paired with a carbohydrate is a tried and true pairing- why should pasta throw a spanner in the works? It brought a divine sweetness to the sauce covered pasta. Some tasty nuggets of chorizo worked in nicely. I’m sold on Mexican style pasta from now on!
I’ve loved the move over the past few years from the Tex-mex style Mexican that is laden with layers of melted cheese and processed tomato salsa. Mexican Society is showing just what Mexican food is all about with their inspired, innovative, utterly delicious menu. I’m headed back for Duck Nachos…who’s joining me?
Words by Kate Wilkinson
WHERE: 140 Gouger St, Adelaide