This buzzing bar and restaurant turns up the cool-factor of the mid-Blue Mountains yet another notch.
It’s slightly exciting when talented people with very good taste team up to open a bar and restaurant in your neighbourhood.
Mesa Barrio is the work of four local lads with plenty of skill and no pretensions. Yet their Lawson restaurant breathes so much cool that, if dining here and hailing from somewhere like Potts Point in Sydney, you’d be forgiven for thinking you hadn’t left the city at all.
Spanish for ‘neighbourhood table’, Mesa Barrio is all about sharing good food and wine with good friends. The menu is a series of small and larger plates with a Mediterranean bent, featuring get-in-my-belly tapas such as fried haloumi with oregano and lemon, raw hiramasa kingfish with fennel, sour cream and horseradish, or cured meats with manchengo cheese and pickles.
How much should you order?
For two people our waiter recommends four small dishes, one large plate and two sides, which should also leave room for dessert. But the options jumping out at us on the night are all on the mains menu, so we rebel and share three large plates and one side, plus dessert. It is the perfect amount.
The feast begins with roasted cauliflower, hummus, fried kale, sumac and tahini – a combination that confirms the only reason these ingredients exist at all is to be together on the plate.
Then comes silver dory fillets with seaweed butter, lemon and capers, followed by lamb shoulder braised in red wine and porcini mushrooms – so tender you’d do well to resist eating it with a spoon. Its depth of flavour has us interrogating: What’s that sweetness? What’s that spice I can’t put my finger on?
Given the chef William Cowan-Lunn is ex-head chef of Nineteen23 in Wentworth Falls and, before that, Rockpool Bar and Grill in Melbourne – the food is one big reason to go here. The atmosphere is another. To borrow a word from two decades ago, it’s ‘happening’. It’s as though all the cool people living in the Blue Mountains have finally come out to play: they now have a reason to.
It’s loud-ish, but not too loud that you can’t have a lively conversation. There’s a mix of bar and table seating, which – depending on availability – you can request upon booking.
Diners from Blaxland to Blackheath are making the journey to Mesa Barrio for dinner, and by the end of September will be able to do so for Sunday lunch. Luckily, living in Bullaburra, I only have to drive round the corner.
- Address: Shop 3, 9 Staples Crescent, Lawson NSW 2783
- Phone: (02) 4759 1616
- Web: www.mesabarrio.com.au
- Opening hours: Wed–Sun 6pm till late
- Prices: Small plate $6–$24, main plates $25–$38
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
- Licensed: Yes; no BYO
- Bookings: Call (02) 4759 1616 or book online
- Wheelchair access: Yes
- Cards accepted: All cards except Amex