Pablo Honey - imagined and realised by five old mates with a shared dream of setting up their own tapas-style restaurant and bar. Russell McKenzie, Brad Jones, Mat Carpenter, Azza Mondo and Lachy Cashman formed the 'cartel', enriched by years of international culinary experience. The skull-faced personality that is Pablo represents the seasoned gang's undying passion for good food.
The popular St Kilda location and peculiar motif stylise a venue that is both modern and compelling. The makeshift honeycomb bar offers an impressive range of tequila, but don't think you're limited to the agave spirit - Russell can whip up any concoction you fancy. The cartel prides itself on their boozy experiments, with unique takes on the cocktail classics. Do try the Speedy Gonzalez, Pablo's tequila version of the espresso martini with a hint of chocolate and a fiery smack in the mouth. Or even the Fashionable Pablo, an Old Fashioned made with Anejo tequila fused with cherry, orange and bitters. Viva Mexico! From the atrium and cocktail lounge at the entrance, floor-to-ceiling windows look out to Luna Park on palm-tree-studded Acland Street. The relaxed setting is ideal for low-key drinks and dining while the blood-red lighting and lounges evoke a more intimate ambience, catering for every social occasion.
The ever-growing art display in the 'House of Honey' provides the perfect talking point for dinner conversation. The hand made pieces - created by Jess Carpenter of Killer Diller Designs - maintain the ghoulish theme, with an exhibition of imaginative designs. It's difficult to choose only one favourite! Pablo staff member Isabella Iskaf of Bella, has also contributed to the creative angle, producing life-sized illustrations of iconic films and characters. All art works are showcased and up for sale at Pablo Honey. To my fellow cocktail connoisseurs/alcoholics - I highly recommend you work through the three drinks lists which cover all tastes. Tequila stars in Pablo's list, featuring a more sour selection and several innovative Margaritas including the Coconut Margarita with 1800 coconut, Malibu and Elderflower (the glass is rimmed with desiccated coconut! Yasss!). Honey's list brings some sweeter options to the table, with a range of fruity fusions that the gals will luvvv. And then there's the Twisted Classics List offering the cocktail essentials with a sexy makeover. The menu allows you to explore an array of dishes and flavours influenced by South America. Piglets rejoice! - The selection of small share plates means you can dabble in a bit of everything on the menu, so you don't have to stop at one. We started off with the Coconut & Lime Prawns, a cold dish to kick start the palate with coconut cream, green mango, coriander and fried garlic topped with black caviar and a side of black taro chips to match. In the spirit of maintaining tradition, the prawns were cleverly presented in a Pablo branded caviar can.
We progressed onto more cold dishes including the Tomato Escabeche with charred spring onion, quail egg, coriander and garlic pebre and Green Tree Ant Cured Salmon topped with caviar, onion, herbs and pico de gallo. The stand out dish was definitely the Grass Fed Beef Tartare with drops of salted egg yolk, smoked chilli, finger lime, coriander and cumin seed lavosh. The combination of dynamic flavours and high quality beef was unforgettable! If you've got the appetite, you can even venture out to the carefully thought out menu of large share plates including Slow Roasted Pork Hock, Chimichurri Grass Fed Rump Cap and Smoked Fillet of Snapper. We opted for the Rump Cap which was exquisitely cooked medium rare, marinated with spices and sprinkled with potent jalapenos. The dish was served with a side of chipa guasu, a type of corn souffle, along with some fresh salsa verde to cut through the heat.
To finish off, we ordered Pablo's iconic dessert, the Dulce de Leche Mousse with berries, popping candy and bitter chocolate, as well as the Spiced Rum Mango with salted caramel, meringue pieces and sponge cake. With a nod to the Dia de los Muertos, the mousse was housed in a skull face sugar cast encircled by pink petals. Then comes the fun part - smashing the delicate mold with your spoon and devouring the silky prize beneath. Fun, flirty and fabulous food. Que estas esperando?