SPICE IT UP
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.”