It has taken us a couple of years to get to this celebration. I have the great fortune to work in a field that matters to me with a colleague (Sally) who is one of the most intelligent, tenacious, and visionary women I’ve ever met and, not incidentally, we have a great boss. I also work 3 days a week so I can spend the other days with my 3-year-old daughter. Sounds like work nirvana to get all of those elements at once right? Well it is and I know it’s rare so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
What we sometimes forget to do is reflect on just how great this time is and so last week Sally and I decided to go out and celebrate – cheers to some success at work and just a more general cheers to being lucky enough to do something that is meaningful to us and in such good company.
Mesa Lunga is a Spanish tapas style restaurant in Gouger Street, Adelaide. The atmosphere is funky yet elegant and pretty upmarket. You can check out the online menus to see the amazing range of food on offer. Adjacent is the Sangria Bar playing music and serving just tapas rather than full meals, which starts around 5pm and goes until late from Wednesday to Sunday. Both of us had wanted to try Mesa Lunga for some time and decided tonight was the night. Fortunately it was mid-week and early (we went straight after work) so we were able to just walk in and get a table. Later in the evening we suddenly noticed that place was completely full.
We didn’t want to make decisions so asked the friendly waiter to order a range of tapas for us (with the proviso to avoid wheat and cows milk for Sally and I confess that I also wasn’t keen on the ox tongue). This was no real difficulty as we had checked out the menu already and could see there’d be plenty to choose from with these restrictions. So if you have a dairy or wheat problem then don’t let that put you off this place.
First to arrive was the sangria. It was an excellent version (they offer three kinds – we went for the traditional) and I would’ve drunk several glasses but restrained myself given that this was midweek and the alcohol content is deceptively high.
The first food was a selection plate of Manchego (semi-hard sheeps milk cheese) with quince paste; paper-thin slices of jamon iberic0 (aged for 36 months); a mix of marinated coriole, manzanilla and kalamata olives with grissini. Being a bigger meat-eater than Sally and loving this jamon I think I ate most of it.
Next was a tangy dish of pickled vegetables and Port Lincoln mussels (an escabeche). Very moreish.
This dish was a take on vitello tonnata – thinly sliced, melt in the mouth poached veal with a tuna aioli and light as air tuna croquette balls (or bunelos) with caperberries and micro herbs. Just the right mix of soft and crispy textures and tangy/salty mellow flavours. This dish was quite substantial and very filling.
Vying for my favourite dish of the night was this next one , Cerdo – twice cooked pork belly with quince aioli. The fat had been largely rendered out of the meat leaving just a little sliver of a velvety layer between the meltingly tender pork. We broke through the thin layer of well seasoned crackling on the top like a creme brulee and with a little dab of the aioli we were both in heaven. Trying to be polite but failing, we demolished this dish in about 1 minute flat.
By this stage we were starting to get full and we still had two more dishes to go (I had the lions share of the veal and the jamon so I was really feeling it). However there’s nothing better to make room in the tummy of a seafood lover than prawns. These were Spencer Gulf prawns cooked with garlic, mushrooms and sherry vinegar and served with charred crusty bread to dip in the sauce. Sally pretty much had this next dish to herself as I’m not a huge fan of prawns (although I couldn’t resist dipping the bread). She said it was excellent.
Last to come was a succulent dish of huge garlicky field mushrooms cooked in sherry vinegar. We each had one ‘to try’ but just couldn’t finish them off. They were yummy but I probably didn’t appreciate them to their full extent (and nearly forgot to photograph them as you can see by the half empty bowl).
Mesa Lunga has a relaxed atmosphere (even when full) with attentive, professional staff. The food (and we only tried a fraction of what is on offer) was excellent. I think this place would be perfect for a large group so you could try more dishes. Obviously with tapas the idea is to share.
Lovely food, lovely atmosphere and lovely company. We have promised ourselves we’ll do this again really soon.
Check out other reviews of Mesa Lunga on Urban Spoon