Barrio by MexOut: Mexican in da' hood!

If you frequent Somerset MRT as much I do, you would probably notice the newest fairy-light lit venture that has occupied quite a generous space on the ground floor of 313@Somerset. Yes, the space is quite a looker! Built with the theme of a Mexican beer garden in mind, it's thoroughly convincing complete with fresh fun colors splashed across the walls and neo-Aztec patterns subliminally infused into the menu. The idea is flawless and the cool unfettered spirit of the place beckons passer-bys to explore its contained yet airy space.

Compared to its predecessor outlet, Mexout, which oozes urban contemporary vibes with its black-washed interiors and quirky fast-food like operations (read my review here); Barrio by Mex Out boosts a more standard ordering process and therefore a more extensive menu with more snacks and its latest delve into Tortas, or otherwise known as, Mexican burgers.

Vibes here are infectious and the festive ambience beckons you to reach out for the server in a bid to get a Margarita. Fret not, these aren't laced with quite enough alcohol to leave you sloshed; but they do inflict quite a nice buzz. Also available on the menu are your usual Mexican beer buddies such as Corona and Negra Modelo - both perfect companions to the fiesty dishes one would expect.

There is, in other words, very little breaking news, the chef delivering what he must, with care and vigor enough to tantalize the tastebuds but keep your mind from wandering too far. The reasonable state of its wallet affliction, a main draw factor given the contrast of it's substantial servings. Given the length of the menu and the sheer number of open mouths during lunch time, it was inevitable that some dishes would have a certain numbness.

The meal rolls off to a impressive start with Burnt Beef Nachos ($13.60) stacking up nicely. Homemade smoky chili con carne, jalaenos, cotija cheese, melted cheddar, pico de gallo, coriander, sour cream and guacamole are piled on over freshly fried tortilla chips. It's messy, it's a treasure trove of pleasure and almost everything you need while you babysit your beer. 

Other snacks include the Mexican Street Corn ($7.90 for 3) and the Chicken Wings in Hot Sauce (6 pieces for $8.50) - the latter getting nods of approval round the table with a spicy sauce adhering to golden crisp crumb. The waves of acidic tanginess wafting off these wings, almost akin to buffalo wings. This gets my vote.

The Barbacoa Quesadillas ($13.40) is marvelous too. Slices of flank steak, mild cheddar and salsa picante with a low murmur of heat stuffed between two flour tortillas and flat pressed on a hot grill till the cheese melds the salacious concoction together. This tore me away from my constant, the chicken quesadilla which I'll never fail to order on any Mexican restaurant field trip. The tender slices of flank steak yielding to the knife with such ease and imploding a burst of flavor quite uncanny of the usual clucking varietal. A definite must-have at the new Barrio by Mexout.

Vegetarians can find respite in the various options here. The Vegetables 'de la cruz' rice bowl ($13.40) uncovering so many hidden gems within a heaping mountain of rice that you can literally enjoy this over 2 meals. The slow-roasted capsicum, guacamole, black beans and pico de gallo providing layers of flavors of complexity that goes beyond Mexican street cuisine and almost into Indian territory. The beautifully steamed and aromatic basmati rice providing the perfect base. You can also get the variation in burrito wrap style or forced between tortilla shells - taco style.

Then, there were tacos. We sampled the Fish ($13.40 for 2, $15.90 for 3), Carne Asada ($13.40 for 2, $15.90 for 3), Char Grilled Chicken ($12.90 for 2, $14.90 for 3) and finally the Pulled Pork ($13.40 for 2, $15.90 for 3); quickly reducing to a degenerative state of food coma following the debauchery. Here's the verdict: the Fish is outstanding, beer battered sea bass tackled with a piquant pickled red cabbage slaw and chiptole aioli. Sweet, sour, hot and cold; all in one tight package, there's nothing but sophisticated pleasure. 

The pulled pork and char grilled chicken faltered slightly. Their dried and un-flavorsome protein, acting as weak contenders to the spicy sauces concocted. Even the cotijata cheese, pickled red cabbage and mayonnaise could do little to disguise how little flavor there was in the marinated pork.

The new Tortas dealt the same fate. My hopes from a revitalizing splash of color on the Fried Chicken Torta ($14.90) met with the audible shatter of dashed hopes when the golden brown fried fritter of buttermilk marinated fried chicken turned out to be dry and partially rubbery. Even the incredibly saucy corn chipotle slaw overhead could not save it from the parched situation. 

Being Barrio's first experience with burgers, I let it past that suppliers probably weren't dealt with properly, the buns just a wee bit too dried out and weak in constitution to stand up to its rich contents. Even the Chili Cheese Burger ($16.90) did little to tempt me to take another bite; the despondent collision of overworked and overcooked beef patty with smoky chili con carne, too little guacamole on dried out buns attempting to choke my partner. Well, one can't imagine embarking on a torta eating competition with such a product. I reckon medical units have to be on stand-by whilst contestants furiously dip their burgers into jugs of water for hydration.

Despite the not-so-pretty imagery I've painted; Barrio looks set to captivate a fast-moving audience about the shopping district. With a little time to settle into its new space and focus on the delivery of its new menu; the Mexican joint holds immense potential in reviving the rather lackluster Mexican foodscape in Singapore.

Barrio by Mexout
313 Orchard Road
t: 6634 2102

Operating Times:
Sun - Thurs: 11am - 10 30pm
Fri - Sat: 11am - 11pm

1 comment:

Ju-Lyn Tan said...

Looks good! Will definitely go try ... I'm always on the lookout for a good Mex feed!