Friday fun day food frenzy.
We can 100% confirm that we waddled home with very full bellies after this little foray.
Melbourne was alive with Spring Carnival fever. The ladies were dressed to impress, the lads were looking dapper in their tailored suits and JoJo and LiLi? Well, they couldn't really give a rat's arse.
It was an uneventful week for the girls as Jo was still taking it easy after her millionth surgery and Fonda was about the only exciting thing that was marked in their calendars that week. Grumpy Mate Rich and New Mate Colin were in attendance for this little Mexican fiesta and the agenda for this evening was cocktails... lots of it.
There couldn't have been a more appropriate time for JoJo to whip out her poncho. JoJo has an exceptional knack for having the right outfit for every occasion. LiLi however has recently become obsessed with all things hair, so her main priority on this day was to ensure her hair looked as cute as possible. She did an alright job and her short curly locks survived a whole day of work - a win in her book!
The atmosphere at Fonda that evening was abuzz with life. The floor was filled with wild chatter, 80s pop music flaring over the speakers and a hot production line pumping out food faster than you can say "sombrero".
The menu boasted some of the more familiar comfort food that you would come to expect as well as a few more contemporary concepts but even then, we still weren't sure where to start. With a few suggestions from the manager, canvassing the menu became slightly easier for the J & L team and with that, they were well on their way to a pretty hearty meal.
Orders are made individually at the counter which is helpful for groups who prefer split billing.
Here is the damage:
- Tortilla Crisps ($9)
White and blue corn chips with guacamole and pico de gallo
- Chipotle Chips ($8)
Potato chips with chipotle aioli
- Charred Corn ($4.50)
Chipotle aioli, cheese blend and fresh lime
- Tacos - Mexican City Pork, Braised Beef, Adobo Chicken ($7 ea)
- Quesadilla - Mexican City Pork ($16)
Pico de gallo, avocado salsa, guajillo chilli and pickled onion
- Fish Mex-Bim-Bap with Baja Fish ($18)
Corn, zucchini strips, sweet potato chunks, minted peas, baby spinach, guacamole, quinoa, black beans, pickled onions and shaved cabbage
- Agua Loca Jug - Pineapple & Mint ($36)
- Frozen Margaritas - Lychee and ElderFlower & Playa Del Sunrise ($13 ea)
The Frozen Margaritas are kept in a dispensary so it took no time at all for these to hit the table and they didn't disappoint. Such a playful drink - light, floral and refreshing.
A girl's best friend.
The service was so efficient that it wasn't too much longer until our entrées and jugs started to arrive. Because everyone made their individual orders at the counter, we didn't know what our mates ordered and, we certainly did not know how much space all of our food would be taking up on our table.
Let's talk about the Aguas Frescas first. They're a great addition to share for any group festivity. Unfortunately (or in LiLi's case fortunately), this Pineapple & Mint Aguas Fresca (turned Agua Loca - add tequila, vodka or rum) was to be drunk alone. JoJo had a sip but was preoccupied with her margaritas and our other mates weren't too interested.
The rum gave the drink a distinct edginess, especially when coupled with the ginger - way too easy to drink. Fresh on the palate and laced with the subtleties of mint, this shouldn't bowl anyone over with an overly alcoholic taste.
Can't have Mexican without guac right? Cue tortilla chips, pico de gallo and guacamole topped with pomegranate. Can't say there were any surprises here, just a simple, straight forward snack loved by basically the entire population.
Chipotle aioli! Although it's a seemingly simple concept, those golden chips smothered in that chipotle aioli was quite the enjoyable starter. Unbeknownst to us, that smokey sauce was going to blow us away again with the next item - our charred corn.
For those that don't know, LiLi loves corn. Spread sauce, char corn, serve and she's yours. JoJo didn't end up ordering any and being the great friend that she is, LiLi decided to surprise her with a cob anyway! You can't have corn without sharing it with others, or so the ancient LiLian proverb goes.
It's funny how the smallest of starters can leave the biggest impressions.
The corn exceeded all expectations the girls had. This sweet and oh so succulent corn cob satisfied our tastebuds like no other. That extra kick of tanginess with the lime (your mission if you choose to accept, and you kind of must) added another dimension to this already umami dish. Highly recommend!
Grumpy Mate Rich's quesadillas saw him struggling. Our mate doesn't do very well with carbohydrates you see and whenever he goes out with the girls, he usually finds himself clutching his stomach and staring off into the void at the end of each venture.
In saying that, Mexican food is one of his all time favourite cuisines and he quite liked his pulled pork quesadillas. He didn't have much to say except "Myeah? They were pretty tasty?".
Thanks Rich, your input is as invaluable as always.
Jo's Mex-bim-bap was deceptively larger and more filling than it looked. Under that top layer lay a fairly hefty serving of quinoa. Well, large when you consider how filling sweet potato and avocado is.
Either way, the combination of contrasting (but also complimentary) flavours made this very tasty with plenty going on - she only wishes that there was more fish.
Taco, Taco, Taco time! New Mate Colin had the pulled pork taco and LiLi ordered a serving of 3 different tacos. Look at the vibrancy of this canvas!
Fonda delivers on the visual aesthetics of the food. It was all almost too stunning to eat. We say 'almost' as you definitely can't put food past us!
The highlight of this round was definitely the Braised Beef. It was juicy and was bursting with flavour.
The pork and chicken somehow got a little lost in the accompaniment of vegetables and sauces. It's almost like the meat needed to be marinated longer just ever so slightly to add a little extra 'something' to the dish but it could have been one of those days where they just couldn't quite get there. That aside, props where they are due, especially in the presentation.
Fonda is one of those restaurants that don't take bookings. If you're not opposed to this, then waiting for approx 30 minutes before being seated is just one of those things. If you're impatient when it comes to food, then don't go to Fonda when hungry.
It's a popular place and turn over of customers is quite fast, considering.
I am going to say my favourite part of the meal was the CORN!! Extra emphasis is needed because it's so good! The manager even enlightened us that if there's ever left over at the end of the night, he cuts all the kernels off, adds extra cheese and extra sauce and it's his dinner treat. He made it sound so mouth watering that you couldn't pass it up.
I thought I'd try 3 tacos because they were described as small and that would be the right quantity. I thought the braised beef was the best and delivered on flavour. The other 2 which was chicken and pork, just didn't hit the mark for me. They were a bit plain and were definitely missing taste.
The jugs of Aguas Frescas can be drunk as mocktails or having the choice of rum, vodka or tequila makes it extra special. My cocktail jug (yes, I had a jug to myself) was actually a delight. I liked the idea of pineapple, mint and rum together and i have no regrets downing it by myself. Very refreshing!
It's a great hangout for a good group of friends and you won't be disappointed by customer service. I'd go back for the corn alone... Not even joking.
I've been here on a few occasions and have never really had any issues with service - the staff are always so helpful and accomodating and, I love seeing the smile on everyone's faces whenever I visit.
It's got a great fit out too - very modern, think euro minimalism which I suppose is a bit strange for a Mexican inspired menu but it works for this fun venue. It's weird to describe the colour palette in this way, but it's got a muted vibrancy about it which I really enjoy. The large floor space is broken up by the colour that is splashed across the furnishings, screens and partitions that bathe this place in contemporary vibes.
The food is usually consistent - I love the adobo tacos and beef burritos but this time, I thought I'd try my hand at something different. I dug into the Mex-Bim-Bap which was a zesty and incredibly filling salad - so much going on! It even came with pickled onion which I basically ate on it's own before I even mixed the salad up. SO GOOD.
Yeah, we've already raved about the corn so I won't go into HOW MUCH I LOVED IT, but know that I did and I would definitely come back for more. The smokey lashings of chipotle on that and on chips were absolute heaven - one of my favourite flavours.
Frozen Margaritas? I preferred the Lychee and Elderberry concoction. The Sunrise was a bit too sweet for me but God, they were easy to drink.
It's a bit loud and packed in there especially on a Friday night, so you may want to consider who you go with - if you don't mind though, I guarantee you'll have a pretty satisfying night with friends and/or loved ones.
Food and Drink: ★★★★☆
Customer Service: ★★★★☆
General Atmosphere: ★★★★☆
Value for Money: ★★★★☆
Food and Drink: ★★★★☆
Customer Service: ★★★★☆
General Atmosphere: ★★★★☆
Value for Money: ★★★☆☆
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