Burro brings ta­cos and more to Burling­ton

RESTAU­RANT RE­VIEW

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - ALANA HUD­SON Spe­cial to The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor

BURLING­TON — The Alex, on Brant Street, has trans­formed into Burro.

The Other Bird restau­rant group (Rap­scal­lion, Black Sheep, The Ar­ling­ton Ho­tel, etc.) al­ready has The Mule in down­town Hamil­ton, but now Burling­ton can get a taste of their ta­cos with­out the travel.

The din­ing room is wide enough for a lengthy wooden ban­quette and a se­ries of ta­bles for two with stools pulled up neatly. A fi­esta on the ceil­ing: four strips of cloth, hang­ing side by side, run the length of the room, adding punches of colour.

The name of the restau­rant is just one nod to Mex­ico. Two of the cloth strips, red and green, re­spec­tively, brought the Mex­i­can flag to mind. And I couldn’t miss the graphic male and fe­male fig­ures with Day of the Dead-style heads on the bath­room doors, which made me won­der what kind of spir­its I was go­ing to run into that night.

That spirit turned out to be tequila, of course. The wine list had a Gamay-Caber­net (Rief Es­tate Win­ery, Ni­a­gara), a Rioja (Vina Echev­er­ria, Chile), and a few other choices, and the “I could use a drink” menu had some clas­sic Mex­i­can beers (Corona, Modelo Ne­gro), and pitch­ers of san­gria. But I went with a cock­tail, a mescal sour. It had an en­joy­ably com­plex taste, the lemon and lime wrapped in a sub­tle smoke, and a flo­ral hint of Lil­let Rouge that lin­gered.

After that, I con­curred with James Brown, who was belt­ing out “I Feel Good” in the back­ground. I was happy to sip my com­pan­ion’s mar­garita, one of the only mar­gar­i­tas I’ve had with the per­fect amount of salt on the rim. Just enough to en­hance the tequila’s flavour and bring out an in­ter­est­ing min­eral qual­ity at the fin­ish.

The drinks echoed the vibe of the mu­sic: sim­i­lar to a wed­ding mix with tons of dance tunes from the ’70s or there­abouts. Tom Jones. A lit­tle “Funky Town.” Oldies but good­ies.

The server who took our or­der han­dled the room very ca­pa­bly, along with a co-worker whose Tshirt told us of “Im­por­tant peo­ple who like ta­cos” — this vaunted list in­cluded “your mom” and “any­one ever.”

Ta­cos were the main event but we started with ap­pe­tiz­ers. First, the white­fish ce­viche, cov­ered in radish slices, cilantro, pick­led onions and what tasted to me like grated pear, an ex­cel­lent touch. The fish could have been cut thin­ner or pounded a bit more to cut down on the chewi­ness, but the flavours came to­gether with a gen­er­ous squeeze of lime.

Chorizo na­chos came next. Don’t ex­pect the huge plate­ful you get from the bar, these are more like slightly large tapas serv­ings. The chorizo was a bit un­der­whelm­ing. It tasted fine but didn’t have that vine­gary, spicy zing I pre­fer, and a few more pieces would have been nice. But the na­chos, like the ce­viche, were brought up a level with the lime. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing crema also gave a good, acidic kick.

Then, the main event: ta­cos! Al­though they did of­fer “the clas­sic,” there were many non-stan­dard choices, in­clud­ing ve­gan op­tions such as sweet potato. Burro is also un­abashedly gluten-free, so no flour tortillas.

We went with the spicy Brus­sels sprout, the cur­ried goat, the spicy beef cheek and the fish ta­cos.

The beef cheek was shred­ded and served with hot pep­pers, fried onions and a cab­bage slaw. The meat was fine — not su­per suc­cu­lent but not dry, ei­ther — and the sim­ple slaw added crunch. I found this taco spicy enough, but there was also sauce on the ta­ble spiked with pa­prika and vinegar for those who want to crank up the heat.

The cur­ried goat was heavy on turmeric and lighter on other sup­port­ing spices. It came with crema and shaved cab­bage. The flavours melded fairly nicely.

The fish taco also had shaved cab­bage and crema, along with juli­enned radishes.

All three ta­cos gave me the over­all im­pres­sion of be­ing meaty and crunchy, with a touch of cream — but also in terms of flavour in­ten­sity, I’d put them at the medium mark. They were cer­tainly tasty enough for my com­pan­ion and my­self to fin­ish them all.

The star of the night: the Brus­sels sprout taco. The sprouts were roasted and were a touch spicy, but the depth of flavour was strik­ing and, with the other ac­cou­trements, this dish was heav­enly.

Dessert called soon after, and we or­dered the only choice: bite-size chur­ros. They, too, were gluten­free, made of corn­meal and served with choco­late sauce and a lime whipped cream. Heav­ier than you’d ex­pect, but lighter than corn bread. So not quite a churro, re­ally, but an in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tive.

On the way out, as I looked out of the win­dow that had been be­hind me through­out the meal, I spied a pretty large pa­tio with a wall cov­ered in a Mex­i­can themed mu­ral.

Sum­mer, tequila and ta­cos? Sounds like a party to me.

Alana Hud­son has cooked at restau­rants in­clud­ing Vong, Le Bernardin, and Avalon.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Burro Ta­cos: the fi­esta starts on the ceil­ing.

PHO­TOS BY ALANA HUD­SON, SPE­CIAL TO THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

The chorizo na­chos were spiked with plenty of lime. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing crema also gave a good, acidic kick.

Choco­late-cov­ered corn­meal chur­ros were an in­ter­est­ing gluten-free al­ter­na­tive.

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