It’s always nice to be asked to a meal where your companion is genuinely excited for the food. Pair that with the joy of finding somewhere you loved in times P.V. (pre-vegan) had added vegan options to their menu and, generally, you know it’s going to be fiesta time for your taste buds!
Such were the circumstances when Montezuma’s of Melbourne Street, North Adelaide, announced on Wednesday that they were now able to ‘veganise’ any of their vegetarian menu items by switching the cheese and sour cream for vegan replacements. This would add a $2.50 fee to the price of any meal.
Almost immediately I received the message; “We have to go!”. I didn’t need to be asked twice. While Burp Burrito and Zambreros (both in Hindley St, Adelaide) have been long term amigos in our need to satisfy the occasional Mexican craving (and will continue to fill our ‘night out on the town’ eating needs), the prospect of regaining that missing element of Mexican cuisine kept me in anticipation for Friday night; I wanted an ooey-gooey, cheesy, Mexican meal, and I wanted it rápido!
The hot, slightly sultry weather gave just the right ambience as we stepped into the festive, Aztec themed dining area. We chose to forgo the weather and the outside seating for a table right near the kitchen. My dining partner had one thing on her mind; “Let’s get a jug of non-alcoholic sangria!”. I made my way to the bar and was able to purchase a litre jug of the house-made brew for $13.95.
For those unfamiliar, sangria is traditionally a red wine and fruit based drink, with hints of various spices and brandy. Montezuma’s have both an alcoholic and non- alcoholic version. Our non-alcoholic sangria had the fresh fruity flavour of grape and citrus juices, with a delightful kick of cinnamon. Very refreshing!
We ordered the four combo dip which includes the ranchero sauce, frijole dip, queso fundido and guacamole. We discovered that the queso dip couldn’t be made vegan (queso = cheese, silly!), but were more than happy to switch it out for an extra guac. There can never be enough guac.
The ranchero sauce was like a very mild salsa, and combined with the guacamole (artful chip dipping etiquette doesn’t preclude dip combining, does it?) produced a balanced flavour. The star of the plate for me was the frijole dip, which combined whipped beans with the rancheros sauce to produce a tasty, warm and creamy dip. Is this the Mexican answer to hummus? I think so.
For our mains, it was recommended to us (by the ever helpful staff) to get the Vera Cruz combination meal (menu item #29). This included a bean burrito, a cheese enchilada (vegans will have a bean enchilada with cheese on top), salad and rice. Our meal arrived literally fresh from the oven, with a warning not to touch the plate until it had cooled slightly.
Here’s where we really got to dig in and review the addition of vegan cheese to the menu. Was it good? Short answer; Aw hells yeah!
The first thing and the last thing I noticed was the amount of food I got for this meal. My $25.90 bought me a meal I couldn’t finish. This is rare for me. My dining partner did finish, just, and this was after a day of salad nibbling (she’s gonna kill me for that). I was glad to be defeated. That’s value right there! (File under ‘personality issues which mean I’ll be pudgy forever’).
Flavour wise, the first thing I tried was the rice, and you might think it’s silly even to mention, but it was tasty rice! It wouldn’t stand alone as its own dish, sure, but it had a nice blend of mild spices and combined well with everything else on the plate.
Both the burrito and the enchilada were filled with a similar whipped bean filling, with the addition of sour cream in the enchilada. Both were covered in a thrilling abundance of melty cheese (I think we concluded it was likely the daiya brand, which seems popular with restaurants). There was definitely no skimping going on! If I felt I was being cheated by the $2.50 vegan add-on charge, I’d be the first to say so, but the cheese was applied quite liberally, and the cheese flavour shone through in all the appropriate elements of the dish. So colour me satisfied.
The tortilla around the burrito was soft, and almost slightly fluffy, while the corn tortilla on the enchilada was slightly firmer. Eating a burrito with a knife and fork was a little different compared to my usual ‘Old El Paso’ homemade experience. It’s left me with a question; which is more traditional? Or indeed, whether both are equally correct? Admittedly I’m not well versed in Mexican cuisine, and we did conclude that it was nice to be able to add a Mexican restaurant and expand our list of usual haunts.
The side salad was fairly basic. The dressing was tasty and the acidity it provided, along with the crunchiness of the veggies, did combine well with the rest of the meal, which was much more dense and richly flavoured.
I would’ve liked to have questioned staff over whether any of the desserts could be veganised, but considering I wasn’t able to complete physical force in the food I’d already ordered, I decided that would have to wait for another visit.
And yes, there will definitely be another visit.
PS. Sign up for the birthday club as you leave to receive a free meal voucher for your birthday. There’s no reason not to anymore; you can even bring your fussy vegan friends along!