This time of year the city is a-buzz and I absolutely love it. Fringe, Adelaide Festival, Clipsal, Womadelaide (soon) and hot summer weather… it is a great time to be in this city with so many venues and activities humming around every corner. If only we could stretch it out, as there isn’t enough time to enjoy everything out there in such a short time.
One of the new additions perfectly timed around Fringe is this pop-up (potentially permanent) bar/eatery/art-space called Little Miss Mexico, strategically placed in the east end. It has certainly caught the eye of many, as several mates have mentioned I should check it out.
I am lucky enough to mix a visit with some “work” interest as a way to justify a trip out of the office. David Bowley (Vinteloper) is running a wine pressing over the lunch period so a few of us head along. I figure it is nice to check out a venue in the light of day too, it is almost like the morning after a hook up where you can see if they are as good as you thought they were without beer goggles and getting caught up in the momentum of the evening.
As I walk in on a warm day it is obvious this is going to be a place hard to leave when my work desk calls in about an hour. On a Thursday afternoon it is pretty busy as people enjoy Mexican food, cold Coronas, sangria carafes and some boutique vino on offer.
We settle in and first things first – we head to Vinteloper bar area and sign up for the “Urban Winery Project Tasting” card that allows us 5 (from 8 varietals) tasting samples for $15. We begin with the Rose as the recommended starter before later testing out the Riesling. The ‘Adelo’ blend sounds very interesting and will be tested next visit (a seemingly random blend of Touriga, Shiraz, Pinot and Grenache – wowee). Overall I commend him for the offer in a venue like this, not only are his wines (tasted so far) clean, crisp and easy drinking but the fact that it is likely to push the “I only drink Sauvignon Blanc” drinkers into actually trying a few varieties, who knows – they might actually like something else. A great initiative and arguably also a community service! Unfortunately spoilt by a wine industry palate, the wines in my opinion could do with a little more complexity but for the likely crowd and the setting a simple and well-constructed crisp wine is very very easy to swallow. As I sit in the sun and look around, it probably is perfect for here and don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining.
Now onto the food… heading to the counter I notice that the menu is for the most part exactly the same as my La Cantina Co food-truck experience (review here) so I now understand they are related. However, luckily I see some tapas options which is a great thing as I don’t really want the same again. As a result I order the dip plate (deconstructed nachos with beef), some zucchini fritters and chicken skewers to share. They come out in reasonable time and are all yummy. Nachos feature a very tender and flavoursome beef mixture with dense (non breaking as you scoop) corn chips, fresh guacamole and salsa… the fritters are a little watery and lacking a great deal of flavour [especially compared to my zucchini slice I made at home this week – I suggest they add some chilli flakes and maybe some tomato for some interest – especially trying to channel Mexican flavours?!] but the chicken tenderloin skewers are so juicy, tender and well flavoured. I wouldn’t mind a bit more marinate to really add some zing though. My major issue is the presentation, they are all served in the same takeaway style box which is fine for the bigger items, but for the fritters and skewers they look really lonely as a small thing in this big white boat with a splash of sauce in the corner. It could be done more cleverly I think, we do eat with our eyes too. Could they also maybe move away from budget white plastic cutlery? At least go wooden if they want to remain disposable? It feels cheap as is.
A colleague who didn’t get the La Cantina experience recently gets the Quesadillas and enjoys them, I see the mix is the same as we had from the truck but has been served more evenly and generously than our portable serving version which is good to see.
The venue ambiance is what makes each mouthful taste better though. All set up to enjoy nice weather and support the crowd atmosphere is the retro and recycled furniture (which I believe was from a community call out to donate) complemented by cooky extras like the basket lamp shades along strings of lights and succulents in planter boxes. The Urban Winery is also providing some interest during this quieter time and generally the crowd has a great vibe – all wanting to enjoy the space.
I can see that this place would be great at night, and advice is that the atmosphere is amplified thanks to a DJ on the decks and the buzzing ambiance after sunset. I can tell it would work really well. Not sure how well the bar or food would keep up in a busy influx but get the carafe between two and just sit and enjoy perhaps?!
Side note; Porta-loo toilets I hope may be upgraded if this does become a permanent offering. I only really accept this type of toilet in short term locations and at music festivals!
Here is hoping that this venue, and many others like it (or not even created yet), can benefit by the new laws around licensing of small venues. I would love to see more of these options really spice up our city. We are all calling out for them, which is why this place is already so popular.
So I recommend you head to this little urban oasis and try the Vinteloper Wines (and more than just Sauvignon Blanc), some cheap and cheerful Mexican/Tapas food and soak up the atmosphere in this good weather before heading to the Garden of Unearthly Delights or your Fringe show. Get in early on popular summer nights as it isn’t big and would fill up quickly… and support this great venue format which hopefully might become more prevalent throughout the city and that this one will stay around post-Fringe. I might see you at the bar?!
Little Miss Mexico
188 Grenfell Street, Adelaide (Next to Crown & Ancor)
Urban Wine Project – Vinteloper
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