Agave, Ar­row­town rolls out the Mexicana

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

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At­mos­phere:

The res­tau­rant is tucked away in a funky Ar­row­town al­ley­way with ev­ery­thing you need for an evening out. There’s fine-din­ing at Saf­fron, Mex­i­can dishes and mar­gar­i­tas at Agave, Cen­tral Otago wines at Blue Door and a bou­tique cin­ema up­stairs, Dorothy Brown’s. In­side, Agave is decked out with Mexicana, mu­rals on the wall, low-light­ing, party som­breros and a small, open kitchen. Booths are a great idea and it’d be easy to while away an evening over Mex­i­can and drinks tucked snugly away.

Ser­vice:

Very good. Our wait­ress ex­plained all the dishes to us, talked us through a wine choice and checked on us regularly. A Cen­tral Otago Two Pad­docks ries­ling was a fan­tas­tic, dry com­ple­ment to the meal. We were there early on a Mon­day evening and for a while we had the place to our­selves. By mid-evening Agave was get­ting busier with other din­ers en­joy­ing them­selves. They also of­fer a take­away ser­vice and it’s an added bonus to be able to or­der drinks from the Blue Door.

Food:

Agave of­fers daily spe­cials, in­clud­ing cock­tails and they whip up mar­gar­i­tas on site or staff can de­liver a fancier ver­sion from the Blue Door.

We nabbed a booth and our wait­ress ex­plained the spe­cials for the evening, which in­cluded pan fried blue cod and stuffed cap­sicums.

For en­trees, we or­dered taquitos, fried rolled up tacos, with pulled pork verda ($15.50), spicy chicken tinga ($15) – the name of the spice mix – and Mex­i­can salad known as tostada ($15.50), a tor­tilla dish with pinto beans, salsa, red onion, char­grilled tomato, gua­camole and let­tuce.

Pulled pork was ten­der, suc­cu­lent and nicely cooked while the chicken tinga had a welcome kick and the salad was a great filler on the side. All of the dishes were mild and we asked for more of a kick in the mains. Maybe it’s a New Zealand res­tau­rant quirk (the re­viewer hails from North­ern Ire­land) but of­ten ‘spicy’ in Queen­stown is ac­tu­ally mild or medium hot. It’s not a huge gripe but some of us like a real chilli kick!

For mains we or­dered blue cod soft shell tacos ($29.50), in chiop­tle bat­ter served with let­tuce, pineap­ple, av­o­cado and salsa, and two fa­jita dishes, siz­zling Here­ford beef and achiote prawns (each $29.50). Achiote is a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring dye of­ten used in South Amer­i­can cui­sine. The tacos were de­li­cious, with enough kick not to over­power the blue cod, crispy with great tex­ture.

Fa­ji­tas ar­rived straight from the kitchen, siz­zling on to our ta­ble. We’d asked for more kick in these two dishes but we still had to add more hot sauce.

A lot of restau­rants do this – dishes ar­rive mild and the ad­di­tion of hot sauce is up to you but cook­ing with chilli and spice im­parts a dif­fer­ent flavour than adding sauce. Still, these dishes were very good.

The beef was ten­der, the gua­camole on the side was de­li­cious and the prawns had a zesty flavour, mi­nus their tails so they could be wrapped in tor­tillas.

Ver­dict:

Tasty Mexicana in great sur­round­ings. Per­fect for an evening out com­bin­ing a trip to the cin­ema or a few drinks.

Prawn fa­ji­tas, blue cod tacos and beef flank fa­ji­tas.

Agave, Ar­row­town.

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