Blue Corn is a great little Mexican cantina and bar in St Kilda. The place is all the more special for the location, nestled amongst expensive dives near the corner of Barkly and Acland, in the ominous shadow of the Dolton bar.
I remember eating here when it opened years ago and being intimidated by the prices. Paying $20 for a burrito seemed ridiculous, but that was before a new wave of haute-Mexican food swept Australia and these days the prices seem modest, especially in gentrified St Kilda.
It's not starchy tex-mex, but it's not traditional Mexican cantina food either. Rather a modern American pastiche of Mexican and French flavours, with nods to Baja-California. Enchiladas arrive on rustic hotplates, burritos come with a healthy kick of black-bean and rice. Thick hits of starch and slow-cooked meats are punctuated with little hits of sweet corn, rocket and coriander which freshen the palate as you go. You find yourself hunting through your meal for them as these little pockets of freshness make the prospect of eating a tostada the size of your head manageable.
The servings are huge. We started with a busy plate of Mexican appetisers which happily fed two. A baked quesadilla filled with smoked vegetables and meat fight for space alongside blue cornchips, dip, guacamole, smoked chicken wings, and scorched almond, olive and rocket salad. By entree's end my companion and I looked at each other in dismay at the realisation there was no way we were going to make it through our mains. We tried, though, valiantly. A delicious goats cheese quesadilla came resting on hunks of supple eggplant in a pool of French-inspired cheese sauce, and -mercifully- a light rocket salad, and we dispatched that with great relish.
We weren't so lucky with a slow-roasted Pork Belly tostada; one of the specials off the teeming board, which soundly kicked our arses. It was monstrous, a sinister behemoth of beans, cheese, pickled cabbage, pork and soft crackling. We got maybe a third of the way in before we conceded defeat and scuttled off into the night.
Apart from the embarrassment of ordering way too much food, it's hard to fault Blue Corn. The service is relaxed and friendly, the atmosphere jovial without being loud or hectic and the drinks plentiful. The bar boasts a wall of tequilas, ranging from the inexpensive to the ostentatious, with a few 1800's on the top shelf and they aren't stingy with them. The Margaritas are strong and cold, and a rotating drinks special menu keeps them interesting. The focus seems to be on the food, not the bar, but it would be a tremendous shame to dine at Blue Corn and not drink. My humble recommendation is to book a table out the back on a hot night with some good friends, order a couple of dishes and get toasted, nicely toasted.
Bluecorn, 205 Barkly Street, St Kilda , Tel: 9417 2321