SPICE IT UP

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - THE FOODIE - LIZZIE LOEL

Deities, trin­kets and adorned crosses, colour­ful mu­rals and the odd mul­ti­coloured skull dec­o­rate Sin Vida, an edi­ble ode to the Day of the Dead and the new­est ad­di­tion to the McLach­lan & Ann com­plex in Bris­bane’s in­ner-north­ern For­ti­tude Val­ley. Sin Vida trans­lates to life­less, and un­for­tu­nately that’s ex­actly how we feel about the baja fish taco (charry sword­fish with baked pineap­ple and cu­cum­ber). It sounds fresh and light but it’s flat and dull, and as we eat it an un­men­tioned milky fluid drips out all over our hands. The taco is dry and crisp around the edges but it’s the fish it­self that dis­ap­points.

Un­hap­pily, the same can be said for the red mole chicken taco with av­o­cado and valen­tine hot sauce (which turns out not to be hot at all). Noth­ing is spicy and there’s an is­sue with sea­son­ing. Black­ened sweet corn ker­nels with soft cheese and an an­cho chilli crema have heftily sea­soned, crunchy chips around the edge of the dish but again there isn’t the faintest hint of heat – we know this as our 12-year-old guest who has a fear of chilli is hap­pily munch­ing away on every­thing. The corn is charry and de­li­cious, paired with crisps that aren’t over-salty, and the pollo frito Mex­i­cano (fried chicken ribs) with jalapeno mayo and sweet and sour plan­tain is also a hit.

A vast mu­ral of artist Frida Kahlo gazes from one wall and a skele­ton is sit­ting at a ta­ble in a flo­ral frock and match­ing hat that wouldn’t be out of place at a Mel­bourne Cup lunch. There’s a sense of light­ness and fun to the place and we’re more hope­ful about the main course which, af­ter sev­eral starters, we share. There are choices such as chilli-braised goat with green rice and tomatillo rel­ish, and pork belly in a mole ne­gro with pineap­ple and fri­joles, but it’s the Sin Vida steak that suits us all. It’s a black onyx skirt steak, cooked medium-rare with a pile of crunchy pota­toes and roasted green toma­toes. A light salsa verde is spooned over the meat, which is ten­der and juicy and there’s a pile of fri­joles (spice-steeped Mex­i­can beans) adding flavour and an agree­ably earthy bal­ance to the rest of the dish.

The food at Sin Vida needs a lit­tle tweak­ing – if the menu states a dish is hot and spicy, it should be.

THE SCORE 13/20

“The food needs a lit­tle tweak­ing – if the menu states a dish is hot and spicy, it should be.”

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