Things are about to heat up in Richmond, and Melburnians don’t have to book a plane ticket to experience the authentic flavours of Latin America thanks to El Atino & Co.
Owners, Alfredo Pimienta and Martin Zozaya, have packed up the traditional hot flavours and exotic food combinations from their hometowns of Mexico and Argentina and have brought them to Bridge Road.
The inspiration behind El Atino & Co is simple: Alfredo wanted to bring traditional Latin culture to the streets of Melbourne so that customers could learn a thing or two about its fun filled cuisines. An old video store has been converted into a contemporary space that reflects the culture of Latin America, but don’t expect cliché sombreros and ponchos, the looks is sleek and modern.
Head Chef, Martin, has a few stamps on his passport, having worked around the world in the likes of Mexico, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Madrid and he is now calling Richmond his new culinary home.
Breakfast and lunch is the main deal at EL Atino & Co’s café, if you close your eyes you might just feel like you’re kicking back at the restaurant in Mexico or Buenos Aires.
For breakfast enthusiasts there is 48-hour pisco sour cured salmon that is served with beetroot, crumbed feta cheese, pine nuts and a pomegranate and angostura dressing. For some traditional eggs with a Mexican twist try the free-range eggs baked in ranchero salsa with house made longanisa, creamy goat’s cheese and frijoles charros.
If lunch is more your style then try the 5 chillies prawn tacos or the Argentinian style cut of beef served with 48-hour beef jus and chimmichurri roasted root vegetables. For a different take on mashed potato try the seafood causa limena –mashed criolla potatoes filled with seafood salad topped off with mayo, grated egg and sweet potatoes.
It would be a shame to visit a South American restaurant without at least one serving of ceviche – and fans of the fishy feast are in luck with El Atino & Co’s ceviche weekends all summer long. Fresh from the morning’s catch, head chef Martin Zozaya recreates the distinctive combination of authentic Latin American spices and bright zesty flavours, offering a mix of classic Peruvian ceviche and ceviche mixto with red snapper, as well as tiraditos with red and yellow Peruvian ajies, Mexican prawn cocktails and seafood tostadas. For the more adventurous, there will also be a choice of Ceviche specials every week on high rotation all summer long.
There’s good news if you love the food at the café, you can take the Latin flavours home with you through the EA&CO Food Store. The likes of chipotle, chillies, chimichurri, and empanadas are all stocked up and ready to be used. And no Latin feast is complete without burning flavours so be sure to check out the extensive range of hot sauces. Amongst some imported goods you can also grab some of the house-made products from the cafe that have been carefully prepared by Martin.
And if you can’t get enough of those exotic tastes why not take a cooking class at the school out the back so that you can show off some Latin flare in your kitchen at home?
Words by Cassie Allen, @_cassieallen | Lover of donuts and peanut butter toast.