Mesa Lunga. Mee-sa Lun-ga? Mess-a Lung-a? Unimportant, but still necessary if I ever need to direct someone here for expensive but yummy tapas. On the corner of Gouger and Morphett Street, a friend suggested this place for a catch-up dinner recently since neither one of us had tried it before. I didn't know what to expect since I'm a tapas newbie but a little birdie told me that tapas can be pretty pricey. Birdie was right.
Inside is lit by natural daylight in the evening and candles by night. The wall behind the bar is a rainbow of alcohols. The three of us were seated at a small, round table which didn't feel like it was going to be able to host all the dishes we were going to order. There were plenty of options to choose from, so much that the waiter asked us four times if we were ready to order and eventually gave up.
|Mesa Spiced Apple Tea: $8.00|
Starting off the night was an apple tea, served over lemon, ice and mint. The first sip tasted more of sour lemon than spiced apple, an unpleasant sensation, but it did get better over the meal. I'm still not sure if I think it was worth the hefty eight dollars though despite the larger-than-a-normal-glass serving.
|Leek & Manchego Croquetas: $3.90 each|
|Bocadilla de cangrejo: $3.90 each|
By far my favourite dish of the night, this spanish 'sandwich' with fried crab and aioli was amazing. It is essentially a huge piece of soft-shell crab with super creamy aioli, pressed together inside a soft, warm bun. It was just the right amount of oiliness from the crab and perfect creamy tartness from the aioli. Seriously delicious.
|Schiacciata Maiale: confit pork belly, apple, caramelised onion, rosemary, balsamic vinegar ($19.00)|
For me, the most important thing about a pizza is the crust. I don't mind a thin crust, as long as it has some substance to it and it's not wilted beneath the weight of the toppings. This pizza was just that. It had crunch, it had soft, it had salt and it had dough. In fact, imagine the complimentary garlic bread at Cafe Primo and you're very close. The combination of sweet, fresh apple and caramelised onion was great - the apple wasn't overcooked to mush and the onions gave a good flavour. The pork belly, however, was pretty inconsistent. Some pieces were dry and hard while some were deliciously soft and fatty.
|Paella de Carne: $26.00 for one|
Rounding out the night was the chicken paella, presented on a piping hot saucepan and filled with bomba rice, sofrito, chicken, chorizo and artichokes. Initially thinking the price being too high, I'm glad to say that the size of the dish was definitely enough to fill up one person. Each grain of rice was coated with a rich tomato sauce while the chicken and chorizo pieces were big and juicy.
A pleasant food experience although it's probably the most expensive dinner I've been to. Having said that, I am accustomed to eating on a student's budget so maybe it's not that obscene in real-world terms. It was also really loud inside, the combination of other diners conversations and music in the background made it hard to hear my friend's voice even though she was right in front of me. If I come back again, outdoor seating would be preferred.