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Australian Restaurant Garnishes Its Margaritas with Cow Eyeballs

The bull’s eyeball atop the ink-colored cocktail is purely a garnish and is not meant to be chewed, swallowed, or even licked.

Jelisa Castrodale

Photo courtesy of MONA

On the brightly flashing landing page for the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), the Tasmanian institution promotes its new restaurant by saying “This little piggy went to Faro Tapas.” Since Faro proudly lists its “pig-slicing machine” as one of its features, that piggy might want to make a reservation elsewhere. Cows might wish to opt out too, since Faro’s bartender is currently topping its black margarita with an ice-encased bull eyeball. Garnishes: Have they gone too far?

Although the ink-colored cocktail and THE ACTUAL EYEBALL FLOATING ON TOP OF IT seem custom-made for the most obnoxious of Instagrammers, restaurant critic Pat Nourse says they’re going to be disappointed. “The blackness of the black Margarita is achieved with the addition of charcoal powder, and the glass is rimmed with black salt,” Nourse wrote. “These seem to dampen down the flavors of tequila, mezcal, and lime as effectively as they make it a nightmare to photograph.”

The bull’s eyeball (which Nourse misidentifies as belonging to an unfortunate pig) is purely a garnish and not meant to be chewed, swallowed, or even licked. In his review of Faro for Gourmet Traveller, Nourse said his waiter encouraged him to down his margarita quickly, “before the sphere of ice encasing the eye melts.”

Faro’s entire aesthetic seems to be as disorienting and in-your-face as the museum itself. Dinner guests enter the restaurant through an underground elevator, and walk past—and through—a series of artistic installations, including Richard Wilson’s waist-deep oil slick, 20:50. Once you’ve arrived in the dining area, your table might be garnished with a vulva-shaped bowl, one designed for museum owner David Walsh’s wedding.

Fortunately, one of MONA’s signature pieces, Cloaca Professional, isn’t on display anywhere near the restaurant. The work, which was commissioned by Walsh, is colloquially known as “The Poo Machine,” because it is ‘fed’ twice a day and, twice a day, it fully replicates the digestive process, including depositing its own stinking, synthetic shit at the other side of the room. (“My advice: hold your breath while you check it out,” one journalist wrote).

“[Faro] is barely controlled chaos,” the restaurant quotes Walsh as saying. As long as that controlled chaos includes keeping those eyeballs from melting into a museum guest’s margarita, everything should be fine.