27 Feb Day of the Dead, St Kilda
Communities that partake in “Dia de los Muertos” celebrate the lives of those who’ve passed on with food, drink and parties rather than mourning. Named after this festival, Day of the Dead tries to capture this joyful, celebratory spirit and reproduce it at their cocktail and tapas bar.
The space is small and cosy, and a neat little lounge area by the front window would be perfect for group gatherings. As the night wore on and the lights dimmed, the dark moodiness created the perfect lounging environment for enjoying a few drinks.
House-made tortilla chips made of both regular and blue corn are first fried then baked, eventually being smothered in a pile of melted cheese, jalapenos, black beans, fire-roasted capsicum and char-grilled corn. The other condiments adorning the nachos were spice-spiked spanish yoghurt, guacamole and pico de gallo, kept company by a dollop of sour cream served on the side. We wished there was more topping on the tacos and felt it was particularly lacking in cheese. When we were able to get everything in one mouthful, it was delicious. The serving size was generous and for fans of the nachos or bigger groups, there’s an even larger size available on the menu.
Something I haven’t seen or tasted before was flautus. Two puff pastry cigars were filled with fire-roasted capsicum, black beans, cheese and jalapeños. Crunchy on the outside, warm and spicy on the inside, and with balsamic drizzle off-setting its cheesiness, I actually enjoyed these more than expected.
Mum loves her rice, so we ordered the pollo albahaca. Garlic-infused chicken was served wtih red wine pico de gallo, coriander and a bed of paella rice. It was dressed with a sweet jus, but a touch more saltiness would have gone down well.
Paddles of colourful tacos soon arrived. The Orange Ceviche fish taco made from barramundi, orange zest, tequila and lime sounded great on paper, but didn’t quite stand up to the beef taco. Hand-pulled, slow-cooked beef was infused with a flavorsome Barbacoa sauce of chilies, herbs and spices was served on blue corn tortillas, then topped with homemade queso fresco. Juicy and tasty.
Where Day of the Dead really stands out is in their bar offerings. Their cocktail list is incredibly impressive and their detailed descriptions could make for an entertaining read if your elected company isn’t interesting enough for you. Overwhelmed by all the choices, I ordered a bespoke cocktail instead, and what resulted was a light, tart and refreshing gin-based cocktail with agave, elderflower and lime.
The highlight of the night was the dessert special, similar to the flatus but filled with berries, rich chocolate and passionfruit. It was a decadent, guilt-inducing dessert that was oh-so-chocolately, but the berry filling and fruity drizzle of sauce helped cut through it all.
Although we found that the food was generally lacking in seasoning, Day of the Dead still offers a good place to hang out for drinks and nibbles. Service was friendly and the staff clearly love what they do, and their passion and warmth made for a pleasant night out.
Disclaimer: This meal was partly subsidised by Zomato, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time.