I have been lucky enough so far to have eaten some excellent meals so far in Mexico, so understandably I was excited about this meal experience long before I sat down, as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world I was chuffed to have been able to get a booking.
The meal started like so many others have with crisp corn tortillas served with habanero salsa, frijoles, salsa roja, thankfully the meal deviated away from tradition quickly after that.
Cactus ceviche with beetroot and tangerine. This first dish delved straight into interesting with the fresh, crunchy yet slimy nopales (young prickly pear cactus growth) tossed with a sweet ceviche liquor, delivering an interesting refreshing mouthful, served with a beetroot and tangerine juice designed to be sipped between bites. I felt the sweet ceviche liquor lacked a tartness invocative of ceviche everywhere, but besides that couldn’t pick fault.
Crab tostada with lime, radish and habanero mayonnaise. I can’t think of a better way to serve a dish like this, the dots of zingy habanero mayonnaise dusted with burnt corn husk dust providing hint of smoke, the surface of the tostada reminding me of a gnarled crab shell the coriander leaves on top could have been whisps of seaweed clinging to the surface. The sweet crab meat underneath bound with a little sour cream, the salty sour liquor accompanying it in the bowl more reminiscent of the ceviche liquor missing from the first course.
Braised brassicas in a smoked bacon and “quelite” broth. Quelite seems to be a method for cooking greens that involves jalepenos, tomatoes and onion, it certainly accounts for the lightl chilli taste present in broth. The broth although scant on brassicas and heavy on legumes had a great aroma and a pervasive and delicious wok smoke taste, the underlying notes of smoky bacon, delivering a delicious flavour.
Charred avocado tartare, “escamoles” and herb chips. The smoked flavour from charred avocado is faint but noticeable, until I found out the escamoles are in fact ant eggs their texture reminded me of tiny peas, their slightly nutty taste made me think they may have been just that. The spirulina and corn husk dust garnish the plate did little to add to the dish and the crisp herbs were simply too few to add a great deal of texture, to what is otherwise quite a soft textured dish.
Octopus mosaic, “tomatillo” sour cream and purslane sauce. The gelatinous octopus disc is cool and I was impressed by the inventive presentation, I like how the disk of clear tomatillo jelly didn’t melt when the warm sour cream sauce was spooned in by the waiter. The sauce studded with trout seeds, finely diced chilli and spring onion was awesome with a very clean sour cream taste that didn’t become cloying after a few bites.
Trout in “tlapique” browned butter and pepita sauce. Tlapique refers to something cooked in a corn husk, so the delicate trout, coated with a little of the pumpkin seed sauce was cooked to perfection inside a single corn husk leaf, the sour tamarind notes of the sauce eating well with the lovely fish. Eating well with the ginger laced spaghetti squash and the sweet potato and pineapple puree dotted on the plate, sauce from pumpkinseed, the slight anise taste of herbo santo from the fish sauce becoming apparent on the back palate.
Taco of confit sweetbreads with a piloncillo glaze. Resting on a bed of multi-coloured corn the rustic two tone tortilla was clearly handmade, the unrefined sugar (piloncillo) glaze sadly not balanced by a salty tang, the crisp radish refreshing, but not quite enough to balance the dish.
Braised oxtail in black “recardo”, habanero pepper, red onion and jus. The wonderfully smoky oxtail, free from the bone was a revelation of flavours, lightly spiced with delicately applied habanero lightly pickled peppers. The delicate wonderfully white almond puree is thick with hung soured cream cleared the palate and soothed any hint of spice wonderfully. The handmade corn tortillas nice but not needed for me to enjoy this dish, I was certain they are included for the Mexicans who can’t endure a meal without tortillas, I was too full to want to eat them.
Cactus sorbet. A simple palate cleanser topped with a little toasted corn husks, salty and sweet in flavour I thought this tasted a little like sweet raw green peppers.
Guava rocks with caramelised white chocolate and pink peppercorns. hidden underneath this fairly plain exterior is a mild guava puree and soft set guava jelly, the magic however lies above with raw sugar tasting pieces of caramelised white chocolate, and the nitro frozen guava rocks that seems to resemble rubbed popcorn. eating this dessert is a peculiar sensation, the almost chewy rocks, the sublimely soft underbelly and the fudge like chocolate all offset with little burst of toasted pink peppercorns, quite moreish and over too soon.
“Sweet milpa”, charred corn ice cream, corn pudding and candied zucchini blossoms This final dish is quite a sensation, the wonderfully grey smoked and salted corn ice cream is far from what I had expected. The rich buttery corn pudding studded with toasted black sesame is smooth and with a light nutty finish thanks to the toasted sesame, the candied popcorn disc that caps it off, as crisp as I hoped it would be, with a wonderful taste of candied popcorn.
Following this with an excellent coffee was a wonderful idea, just the thing to see me out the door with a wide smile on my face.