I always do some research before I go to a restaurant. Whether it's going somewhere completely new or returning to an old favourite, I have to look up how it's rated on Urbanspoon. I just have to. It's a sickness really. So upon returning to El Loco at Slip Inn, not to be mistaken with the El Loco located in Surry Hills (both by Dan Hong), I check out their the ratings and the reviews. Unfortunately I had to brave my visit, having low expectations and high hopes.
The Mexican restaurant is still as colourful and swinging as I remembered it since my last visit which was over a year ago. My photographic evidence doesn't quite show that I know, but it was 6pm. On a Monday night.
Last time I was with a group of friends where we dined outside in the large open space that certainly caters for loud hysteria and those who bless Daylight Savings, having been stuck in offices all day. In fact there's a whole other bar outside downstairs which means if you've found a perfect spot, you can sit tight and not have to run back up to order.
Since this was an all important, much delayed, highly anticipated catch-up with an old friend I hadn't seen for years, we opted for a quiet corner in the restaurant to focus on each other and the food we were about to devour.
|Let the feast begin!|
|'Secret taco', $6.50|
I mean if I've bought it already, don't I get to know what it is!?
I have NO idea what was in it. The red that you can see, I think was tomato salsa, similar to the one that came with the corn chips. Beneath that is cabbage, a couple sad leaves of coriander and spring onion (these staples all come with every taco) but way way down below was a very odd protein.
My immediate thought was chicken testicles?? They had the same shape as rissoles but they had a very smooth texture. It didn't feel like it was made out of mince, perhaps it was very very fine mince mixed with water. The protein was very springy. It may have been a combination of chicken or pork? Maybe? I have no idea...
And I guess the secret will remain a secret. I think I'll just tell people that El Loco fed me chicken testicles - it's more fun that way and it makes me sound adventurous.
As a whole, the taco was pretty small and wasn't very good value - when I finished, I was left unsatisfied (flavour wise, not fullness - I knew I wouldn't be full from one taco) and confused. It was also a bit difficult to eat as I lifted the taco from its little container, there was a great deal of tomato-y liquid at the bottom. You've been warned, it's messy.
Of course this photo isn't particularly inspiring but unfortunately the taste isn't far off. I taste the chorizo, the jalapeños and the cheese. So I guess I'm not getting ripped off but there aren't any surprising flavours beyond its description on the menu. That's not to say it's not a good classic combination but I think I was hoping for a little more. It's paired with a super generous portion of chipotle sauce, which had a good kick to it but I think i needed more quesadilla to finish it all off.
The moment the salad came to the table I thought, and actually said aloud, 'it looks like a Tim Burton haunted house'. This was my friend's salad but I've also had this before so I can speak from experience that it's a great textural salad. Below the tortilla crisps and cheese, lies the protein of your choice, chicken, beef, pork, prawn or tofu, as well as cabbage, fennel and radishes. It's like a salad that keeps on giving because after you've eaten all the salad bits, you find yourself nomming on the crisps, making it surprisingly filling.
The corn chips was a great side to share (meaning I was gobbling on it all) because I can never resist not ordering anything that has avocado. The guacamole is reasonable, would have preferred more avocado than the sour cream/yoghurt but it's light, refreshing and it does the trick in being the perfect accompaniment to the salsa. The tomato has been chopped finely (so much so that it looks almost minced) and has got some tang to it. It's the ideal side to have at a Mexican feast.
El Loco at Slip Inn
111 Sussex Street,
|Chorizo, jalapeño and cheese quesadilla with chipotle mayo, $7.00|
|El Loco salad, $16.00|
|Corn chips with guacamole and salsa, $6.00|
El Loco is definitely somewhere great to visit with a big crowd or a catch-up with a friend (on those quieter weekday nights) as it's so festive and lively! The venue is spacious so their 'no booking' policy (under groups of 10) isn't a huge deal, even for after work drinks and nibbles. The food is fun and the vibe is casual - a relaxed pub alternative. If you're up for something a little more hipster, check out their Surry Hills location, same same but different.
El Loco at Slip Inn
111 Sussex Street,