Review: Barley Swine

23 January 2016

I had headed back out after that voluminous BBQ lunch from La Barbecue — which turned out to be far later than planned… Had a busy afternoon but I also had an early dinner booking this Saturday night. Tonight’s destination is the newly re-opened Barley Swine, which moved across town and had just opened. I had planned this Austin weekend stay around this meal, so was looking forward to it!

Sadly they did not offer their tasting menu as of yet post-move, so tonight will have to be a la carte. Actually probably good, because of that heavy lunch. It wasn’t that busy at the chef’s counter but for some reason they put me right next to a group of 3 — when there were 8 other open seats. Why? This is so damn annoying, a bad start courtesy of the FoH…

I looked at the menu over a cocktail, which was not bad. I ordered and chilled out. Kitchen was busy and loud — the vocal staff reminded me of that terrible night at LA’s Bestia…not bode well? At least not as deafeningly bad as Nomad in Sydney… I understand need for communications in the kitchen and having a regimented system, but the excessive shoutiness is a part of the “experience” of so many “modern” open kitchens that I don’t enjoy. In any case, the first item came out, the pig skin noodles.

1-pig skin noodles

Well, I was curious on how they did this, but it’s basically the skin soubised and cut like noodles. Nice idea, but didn’t work. It was a sticky mess, especially when it was bathed in this acidic hot sauce and sprinkled with almonds. This didn’t work at all, and it was just sticking and breaking up on the utensils. The dumplings were good, but I left a bit of the “noodles” behind. Sadly, there are better things to make “noodles” with, and there are far better ways to cook pig skin.

I had switched to a white and it tasted a little funky…hmmm… Some of this I attribute to moving issues but still, it’s not like they were closed for a long time. I’m still open-minded. Then the next dish, the marinated egg.

2-marinated egg

Well, this was basically a poached egg that had a nice flavour from the marinade. However, even with the runny yolk, it did little for the sweet potato “nest” that had little flavour and was over-fried — basically a gum-slasher… I basically mopped up the yolk and picked off the hidden goat ham (meh) and this dish was history. Rather disappointed so far, but maybe I’m ordering badly…

At this point suddenly my stomach just went crunch. Ugh, what was it, the “noodles” or runny egg? The funky txakoli or something else? It was so sudden it’s hard to pin down, but I had to run for the bathroom and just yacked. I have never vomited like this before in mid-meal at a restaurant…there was something that just didn’t sit right. The acidic food (and wine) certainly didn’t help, but something triggered this…I can’t figure out what it was.

But I was a bit green going back to the counter as I see they brought out my final dish, the blackened octopus.

3-octopus

Nope. I took a bite and asked them to wrap it for me. I didn’t feel very good and I didn’t feel very confident about eating here right now. I just took the item, downed a cup of coffee, and headed out. The “free valet parking” is annoying but whatever.

I got back to my hotel, rested for a bit. Later in the evening I heated up this dish and had it. The octopus was not bad, but the seasoning was overwhelming for such a small-sized octopus. Perhaps on a thick one it would work. The fried rice wasn’t bad, but I’m glad I got rid of the rest of the stuff off the food.

I had been hoping Barley Swine would re-open when I planned on passing through Austin, but it turned out to be a disappointment. Even if I didn’t get sick (I’m not attibuting it to anything specific, btw, please don’t assume), the cooking was very meh and many of the flavours didn’t work for me. For me it feels, sadly, more of a fail on the chef front in designing these dishes than in the execution by the cooks.

Frankly these 2 dinners in Austin couldn’t come anywhere close to the 2 dinners in San Antonio at Southerleigh and especially at Cured. I’m starting to think Austin is way, way overrated and overhyped. I’m so done with Austin…

Barley Swine
6555 Burnet Road, Suite 400
Austin, Texas

PS: The 2 dinners made such a bad impression on me I actually *skipped* dinner the next day, my final night in Austin. All I did was heat up the leftover BBQ from La Barbecue, which was still good. I am so, so done with eating in Austin… Next time I have to come back to the area for my project I will focus on the excellent and underrated San Antonio.

Review: La Barbecue

23 January 2016

I slept badly as my stomach was not happy with the acidic addition from last night’s disappointing dinner at Foreign & Domestic. But I had a busy Saturday so I was out the door by 8am. I had planned to do some BBQ and there was so much to choose from, so I ended up going with La Barbecue — which is always seen as one of the best in a BBQ-obsessed town. It was 10.30am when I got there, and there was already a modest line. I got ready to wait a little, as it wasn’t opening until 11am.

Little did I know how annoying it was to become. Due to the fact they were giving out free beers to people waiting in line, no one was in a hurry. And then worse, the “placeholders” in line suddenly went from a group of 2 to a group of 10+ when more people show up. What was a short-ish line that would have cleared in 30 minutes turned into a chat-and-cut shitshow on this unseasonably warm and sunny morning. Remember I got into the short-ish line at 10.30am…

Then I see people trying to talk the staff into cutting through line, including a suspiciously tall individual that may have been a local college athlete. Now this is utterly unfair and annoying. Plus, the people in line were getting tipsy and loud, and the already annoying coversations were getting even worse. As someone waiting by themselves this is such a stupid experience.

By the time I got to the counter, they were out of beef ribs. Remember, I got there half hour BEFORE it opened. I got my order, and actually got out of there just before 1pm. Yes, it took me 2.5 hours to get my food in what started out as a short-ish line. This is ridiculous. I’m sorry, nothing is worth this.

I drove out and this idiot cuts me off then drives 10mph under the speed limit. I gesticulate my displeasure (no fingers, I wasn’t provoking anyone in gun-happy Texas), and he slams on his brakes, gets out of his car and threatens me. Wonderful, Texas, stupid and hotheaded — and YOU CAN’T FUCKING DRIVE.

Utterly pathetic. I got around him and fought traffic (yes, on a Saturday) through Austin and went back to my hotel to take a look at the food that’s dripping oil out of the bag. I opened the items with anticipation.

The first thing I unwrapped was the fatty brisket…

fatty brisket

The aroma was intoxicating and the taste was incredible. Very possibly the best brisket I’ve ever had in my life. Rich beyond belief, smoky to the core, and the perfect flavours that bring out the best of the meat. Awesome.

fatty brisket_edited

Here’s the photo with some simple editing to show the contrast. All the photos don’t show the stuff in its glory because of the butcher paper colour, so here’s a better look at the smoke ring and the delicacy of the meat. Next up were the pork ribs.

pork ribs

These were pretty good, but not as good as the brisket. The rub was strong, very peppery, while the smoke got through very nicely. No need any sauce as you can imagine. Most of these I saved for later. Good thing my hotel room had a fridge and microwave…

pork ribs_edited

Here’s the edited version. You can really see how heavy the rub was. Then finally the homemade sausages…

sausages (spicy)

These were awesome, with a strong spicy kick on them. Solid and hot, just perfect. I saved most of these for later as well, but they were fantastic.

sausages (spicy)_edited

Here’s the edited version, probably not as necessary, but voila. Wow, this is a lot of food, and this should do for tomorrow as well (thank you fridge and microwave).

La Barbecue had some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had, especially the brisket. Just fabulous. However, I don’t think it justifies a 2.5hr wait for me. I know Austin people like to wait like this, but when you are solo, it’s just annoying — especially with the drunken, stupid groups of college kids slowing things to a crawl and chat-and-cut like there’s no tomorrow. There was free beer, so no one cared — but I couldn’t get any because I couldn’t leave the line to get it. The system just works against a single person here.

Too bad, because it was fabulous. I’d love to enjoy this ‘cue again, but no way will I wait like this. Lesson learned. If I want BBQ in Austin, go early and go on a weekday — especially if the weather is foul.

Awesome, but this was a terrible overall experience.

La Barbecue
1906 East Cesar Chavez Street
Austin, Texas

Review: Foreign & Domestic

22 January 2016

After about 36 hours of decompressing in San Antonio after my Mexico City trip, I had a long day en route to Austin. Last night’s dinner at Cured was fantastic, and it fuelled me through a very, very difficult call I had to make in the morning before I headed north. A stop in San Marcos to check on a project was fantastic, and I feel far more confident about something that’s been in the pipeline for a few years now — glad my confidence in a project is proven right.

I fought the ugly traffic to get into Austin — all thanks to an abandoned (!!) pick-up truck in the fast-lane…Texas drivers… Got to my hotel, dropped stuff off, and headed to dinner at Foreign & Domestic. I read a lot of good things about this place, so was looking forward to this dinner, to cap off a surprisingly good day.

It was pretty busy on this Friday night as I was seated at the counter. Menu looked interesting and I placed my order after grabbing a cocktail. I chilled and soon my starter arrived, the fried pigs ears and Brussels sprouts…

pigs ears - sprouts

Well, it wasn’t quite what I had imagined. Sorry for the not-quite-in-focus photo but I see my camera had issues with this dish as much as I did. I imagine the pigs ears were nice and crispy at one point, but not anymore. What happened here is an unfortunate overdose of a very acidic house-made fish sauce. Instead of adding to the flavour, what it did was (1) drench the sprouts and (2) mess up the collagen in the ears to the point they tasted like glue wrapped around cartilage. So many cooking 101’s broken here…

Not a great start, I actually abandoned half of this plate. It was very acidic, something I didn’t need after that terrible pH-tanking tasting menu at Mexico City’s Quintonil a few days ago. Plus all the wine for the past few days. Not good. Then the main course arrived…

quail

Erm, quail and snails. First of all the snails were utterly undercooked and tasted almost raw. It was disgusting, and this is from a guy who eats snails everywhere he goes. The quail wasn’t bad, but honestly nothing special about it. Nowhere near as good as that amazing quail at Ö in Tallinn, but rather underwhelming. Seems very sloppy execution here.

And at this point I was losing patience with the service too. Sure it was busy but there’s something off-kilter here. My server was the friendliest guy when trying to upsell things (even trying to talk me into the meat-for-two dish), but nowhere to be found when you need anything. In fact, I see servers just hanging out at times when I needed service, almost like there was very poor floor management (or my server was being hazed with too big of a section).

All this really made this a way, way less-than-stellar evening, so I did what I could and roughly consumed most of the meat on the quail and abandoned the rest of the food. It was again, rather acidic. What is this desire to make things so acidic, when the foods themselves already are acidic? This is just really poorly thought out. There’s an execution and planning miss here for me, the latter no excuse for a busy Friday night. And my server was still nowhere to be found…

I just made my way out after paying. This was not a great way to end what was a good day. Oh well, tomorrow is another day. It’s Friday evening, so who knows what caused this minor shitshow. This is why I usually don’t like eating out on weekends, the service is always worse, the food is always sketchier. Sigh…

Foreign & Domestic
306 East 53rd Street
Austin, Texas

Review: Cured

21 January 2016

I caught up on some sleep and had a busy day, but all fuelled by last night’s excellent dinner at Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery. I’m glad I did so much research on San Antonio before coming here. And this evening I headed back to the Pearl District once again and headed to another place that’s highly rated, Cured.

I got there rather early after fighting through stupid traffic going towards downtown…why can’t drivers in this part of Texas MERGE onto a highway? Ugh… The traffic jams were just idiotic. But I got to Cured and chilled with a nice cocktail and I relaxed sitting at the chef’s counter. Was a pleasure watching them work all night.

After a quick amuse of smoked salmon (nothing special), I awaited my dinner. The first item was my selection for a charcuterie plate, and this was bloody awesome…

charcuterie

Wow…this plate contained so many beauties it’s actually hard to explain! The jalapeño sausage (top left) was excellent, with just the perfect kick. The 60-day aged pork belly (just beneath) was super, not quite as amazing as the horse mane fat from Kumamoto, but it was heavenly! The duck cotechino (centre) was comped, and it was also very tasty. Then the lamb culatello (top right) was excellent, though the lucanica (below) was the only miss of the plate. Then the 12-month aged shoulder ham (below) was also fabulous. Oh, did I forget the apple jalapeño pork rillettes in the jar? Wow.

This was utterly fantastic. This easily competes with the amazing meatery board at Toups’ Meatery in NOLA, and blows the selection at Pittsburgh’s Cure out of the water. Fabulous. I am so sold on San Antonio as a food destination! Great interaction with the team also, which is one of the best parts about dining at the chef’s counter. Excellent staff and management, really making strong efforts. There’s a reason why people choose this place as their main food destination in San Antonio!

Before I could catch my breath the “main course” came out — and it had to be pied du cochon

trotter

These were fried very well, tasted fabulous, and the best part?

trotter internal

Look. They didn’t shred the stuff to death. They left it with a lot of texture, and ensured you got the full collagen treatment. It shows they understand why people eat this dish, unlike places that turn it into basically pulled pork. Excellent…

I was spent at this stage, happily, but chef comped me a dessert they were working on — which worked very well. Won’t post it here since it’s not on the menu yet. But excellent flavours!

I had another long day coming up, so I took my leave and thanked the team for such a wonderful night. Just as I left I had a nice look at their awesome “charc tank” at the entrance…

meats

I smiled all the way to my car and headed back. These two evenings of dining in San Antonio has certainly left a strong impression with me. This is one of the hottest food towns, and there is a real reason why. It’s not overhyped for one, it’s actually damn good. And this place shows they keep trying harder even though they are the hottest place in town. That’s why I like this place more than some other complacent “food” towns. Awesome.

Cured
306 Pearl Parkway, Suite 101
San Antonio, Texas

Review: Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery

20 January 2016

After an exhausting few days in Mexico City, I departed from the altitude and pollution for San Antonio. Immediately I was breathing more relaxed being back to a normal elevation… This bodes badly for my planned trips to Colombia and Bolivia… In any case, I got my rental car and dumped my bags and headed for dinner. I’ve only had a breakfast burrito all day, so was somewhat hungry — though I wasn’t feeling that great to be really hungry.

Nevertheless I headed to the Pearl District of San Antonio — the current place for all the hip new restaurants and bars, all based around the historic Pearl Brewery. Tonight’s destination is Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, which was still quite busy at around 8.30pm on a Wednesday night. I was given a spot at the chef’s counter so that was nice. I relaxed with a cocktail and checked out the menu…

I placed my order, hoping I didn’t overdo it, but I was a bit hungry now. Very quickly the first item came out, the deviled eggs.

1-deviled eggs

Mmm, these were excellent, with bacon and onion marmalade on top. A great mixture of savoury and sweet and tangy, all with an eggy goodness. I loved deviled eggs and these were some of the best I’ve had in ages. Excellent start! I could eat these things all day! I switched to some wine and soon my next item came out, and it was way, way bigger than I thought…

2-snapper throat

Wow, right? This is their signature item, the snapper throats. Nicely fried, there was quite a lot of meat to dig out. A smart way to use the whole fish for these guys, and it turns out to be their best-selling item. Smart cooking. Tasty too, though it was a LOT! This has been really good! I am impressed so far!

Was chilling out for a little as this was a lot of food, then the final item came — the lamb ribs.

3-lamb ribs

Lovely stuff here, I love it when lamb tastes like lamb. No trying to hide it here, the onion-y sauce helped to bring out the richness of the ribs. And it was rich for sure, a healthy 4 sets of double ribs. This was fantastic, though I had to take some of it with me as the volume just took me out. I forgot I was back in Texas…

I chatted with some folks for awhile before I took my leave. I was knackered from all the travel and needed to catch up on sleep, as I had a long day tomorrow. As I drove out back to the hotel, I was still surprised by how good tonight was.

I’ve never really seen San Antonio being highly rated by food folks, as Austin and Dallas always overshadowed. But tonight has proven to me how good San Antonio is. Aside from stupid drivers, I really like this town.

A rare time when I say, I’m really glad to be in Texas.

Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery
303 Pearl Parkway, Suite 120
San Antonio, Texas

Review: Pujol

19 January 2016

A monumental hangover in Mexico, if anything, is a cliche. But it’s real, no thanks to me toasting the late great Glenn Frey with tequilas — something I rarely, rarely drink. I woke up feeling dreadful, as the altitude of Mexico City compounds the heavy boozing from last night… And to add to all of this, I had a long, long walk alongside roads and highways choked with dense diesel fumes. I probably lost a few years off my lifespan these past 24 hours…

I skipped lunch, as I had little appetite — even after that terrible tasting menu last night at Quintonil. But tonight hopefully is much better at Pujol — which is listed as #16 in the rather useless World’s 50 Best joke list. But I’ve heard great things about this place, so I am really hoping for something to redeem this city’s cooking in my eyes.

The walk to Pujol was a bit longer, but I enjoyed the 20-minute stroll. Got there a little early, so hung out outside until they were ready to seat people. Got a nice table and chilled out with a cocktail…a late hair-of-dog treatment, but sorely needed. I chilled out and happily went with the tasting again. Let’s hope it goes much better tonight. Soon set of amuses bouches arrived, though my attention was on the 4th item (the aroma)…

AB1a-set

First up was the pumpkin chileatole — a very nice pumpkin chilli broth. Love the flavours in this.

AB1b-pumpkin chileatole

Wow, the first amuse has already blown away last night’s dinner at Quintonil… Next up, bocol Huasteco.

AB1c-bocol Huasteco

This dough dumpling, filled with cheese, was also a nice touch. Love the cheese! Then next, a chia fritter.

AB1d-chia tostada

Mmm, I’d take these over potato any day, delicious, nicely seasoned, healthy. Then finally, what I was waiting for…

AB1e1-baby corn

This was the smoked baby corn, covered in powdered chicatana ants, coffee and costeño chile mayonnaise. They opened the container when it was presented and the most gorgeous smoky aroma came out… This was fantastic. This set of amuses bouches has blown Quintonil away in a puff of smoke, totally. I could have walked out now and proclaimed tonight better than last night.

Then the last of the amuse was brought out, the crudo of the day.

AB2-mussel crudo

This mussel was excellent, with a nice kick too. This is turning out to be one excellent meal so far! I relaxed and ordered a glass of Mexican wine and chilled out. This was so far so good, completely in another league from last night. Then the first course arrived, the tongue in stew.

01-tongue

We had several choices for each of the courses and I went with this, and I was beyond happy. The tongue was cooked perfectly, soft as tofu but still kept a strong consistency; no flakiness, shredding or pulverisation here. Beautiful flavours, with a nice bit of squash as a balance. This is exactly what was wrong with last night — Quintonil seemed *afraid* of flavours. This place *embraces* flavours. This is why this place is awesome. One of the best tongue in past few years, I wish it was more tho!

Chilled out a little with more wine before the second course, the suckling lamb taco.

02-suckling lamb taco

Wow, now this is a beautiful dish. The flavours worked very well too, the lamb being strong and smooth, the avocado playing a strong secondary role in both leaf and puree. Fabulous combination, working perfectly in unison. Again, I wish there was more!

I was enjoying this meal very much, as were other diners from what I can hear. With a little more wine, the third dish arrived — the rabbit.

03-rabbit

This was gorgeous, tender but flavourful, with the kick coming from some guajillo in the pepián. Excellent, again the flavours are full-on, how I like it. At this point, if I can compare Pujol to Quintonil, it would be like comparing a beautiful Negroni to a bottle of warm Aquafina…and I’m not exaggerating.

At this point I had a little more wine as the next dish arrived, and it’s one of their special items — the so-called “mole madre, mole nuevo” for good reason…

04-moles

The two moles are very different as you can see. The two are very different; one is freshly made, the other is the so-called “mole madre” of “mother mole” which is actually 865 days old and counting. The latter is intense in a way I never thought the humble mole can be. It apparently continues to evolve both with additions and aging, and it’s something I can’t really describe. We had 3 tortilla — we use one each, then we’re told to combine the moles for the third. Fantastic. Not just a gimmick, it’s something pretty awesome.

Wow. This was quite a meal already. We still have the desserts. The only thing each dish was that I wish there was more! Now that is a great sign of a much-enjoyed meal. Tonight I don’t want it to end; last night I was begging to get out… The dessert procession began in tribute to the humble sweet potato and wee touch of cheese.

05-sweet potato

A nice little nibble, helping to create the path to the sweeter items to come…

06a-desserts

Again, the progression, we start with the avocado gelato…

06b-avocato gelato

This was excellent (much better than the acid ball from last night), with quite a nice bit of chocolate. Then a cookie with chamomile…

06c-cookie

I’m sorry about the poor photo, but this camera has issues focusing with low light and a white, off-pattern item… This explains how so many sushi pictures come out odd… But it was nice. Then this joy…

06d-chocolate

Mmm, chocolate goodness…but wait, don’t drink it yet, cuz we get to use it as a dip for…

06e-churro

Churro! Yep, worked really wonderfully as a dip — and the extras you get to drink! What a choco-tastic end! What a fine meal this was!

My only issue really, pondering this while I have some mezcal (you’d think I learned my lesson…), is that I wanted more! More baby corn! More tongue! More suckling lamb! More rabbit! More mole madre! More churro! That is a sign how good this dinner was. It clearly earns high ranks on anyone’s list — far more than the utterly overrated Quintonil. I don’t want to keep pouring cold water on it, but it was such a wet towel of a night, and the staff did nothing after my burn either — which just soured me completely.

I enjoyed chatting with folks near me, as we compared restaurants in town and elsewhere. This is the “good foodie” type of convo, not the table full of drunken idiots “foodie” (or “droolie” as I call them) that goes by rankings and ratings and don’t understand the food except its PR value. So it was a completely awesome evening, I left very happy.

I walked back to the hotel, another nice 20-minute stroll, bypassing the hotel bar this time, and headed to get some rest. This was an excellent dinner in every way, and it has redeemed my image of the top places in this city. Great way to close my short Mexico City trip! Highly, highly recommended!

Pujol
Calle Francisco Petrarca 254
Ciudad de México, DF, México

Review: Quintonil

18 January 2016

I was starting to feel the effects of Mexico City’s altitude, which was probably exacerbated by the good but heavy lunch at Chapulín only a few hours earlier. I forgot people here eat lunch late, and my booking for Quintonil was for 7pm, so it was a quick-ish turnaround… At least Quintonil isn’t far from my hotel, only a few minutes of strolling. I was looking very forward to this dinner, as the cooking at this place is being wowed by so many.

I got to Quintonil and enjoyed a cocktail as I looked at the menu — and decided to happily go with the full tasting menu. They didn’t do a pairing, so I ordered a half bottle of white. The altitude is wearing on me, so don’t want to push it. Plus, I was still semi-full from lunch… I chilled out, finished the cocktail and soon the amuse arrived.

AB-ceviche taco

This was a ceviche taco, though they failed to mention the fish (probably a bream). Problem is that the filling so overwhelmed the now-soggy tortilla it was nearly impossible to eat with my hand without it falling all over the place. A bit poorly planned especially if many customers are gringos. Sadly this became a feature of the night, as I was to find out…

Then after the presentation of tortillas and condiments, the tasting menu began — first with the Mexican herb salad.

01-herb salad

Sadly all I could taste was the emulsion poured onto the herbs. It was overwhelming and you don’t get the nuance of the herbs at all. Just drowned the dish out. Honestly, this was a very poor start. Oh well, that’s just the opener. Next up, the smoked marlin.

02-smoked marlin

Beautiful appearance, but it didn’t really work. Frankly tasted like a ceviche, as the base is a pool of acid. Wasn’t much of a “green sauce” as written in the menu at all, and frankly this was gonna give me an ulcer. It ate way into the fish. Too bad, another poorly executed dish. I am getting worried as the next dish arrived, another hand-eater…

03-smoked crab tostada

This was the smoked crab tostada. Problem with having such a strong tostada is that unless you season the contents well, the flavour is off-balanced. The crab was barely seasoned, and what “habanero mayonnaise” there was (as listed on the menu) I could not find it. It was bland, bland, bland. Again, terrible execution. I was really losing patience now…

Just as I thought it couldn’t go further downhill, the fourth dish really just showed how poorly executed this meal was… This next package focused on escamoles and mushrooms.

04-escamoles mushrooms

Poor execution and planning. The wrap basically leaked and fell apart, as it was made poorly — or the boiling hot liquidy content was allowed to sit for way too long. There were holes and I actually burned my hand eating this. Frankly, you can’t really enjoy chewing any dish when you immediately grab for chunks of ice in your wine bucket from the burn. And the staff did JACK SHIT about it even when I pointed it out to them. I will spare you the photo of my hand.

I have no idea how that thing tasted since it was impossible to eat and it fell apart because of BAD EXECUTION. You want people to eat these things by hand, then make the package solid enough! Ridiculous. By now I was just plain angry with this meal. Next up was, thank goodness, something you eat with a utensil…

05-cuitaloche broth

This was a cuitlacoche broth. Finally, flavour! Someone remembered to season the food, finally! This was actually BY FAR the best dish of the night so far. A broth. Yeah… Then we have the “catch of the day” that happened to be sea bass…

06-sea bass

Boring, boring, boring. The guajillo puree was more acid than spice, which did nothing for the rather flavourless fish. Again someone forgot to season this. I think my pH level has dropped by a whole point over the course of this ridiculously acidic meal, of which the white wine I just finished certainly didn’t help.

I switched to a glass of red as the final savoury course arrived, the duck.

07-duck

Finally! This was excellent. Sourced well, full of flavour. SOMEONE REMEMBERED TO SEASON THE DISH! Hurrah! Honestly this was an excellent dish, though nowhere as good as the duck in places like Juniper in Tulsa or Palazzo Petrucci in Napoli. But finally, a good dish in this night that struggles for a dish to reach even mediocrity!

I was actually glad it was over, the savouries I mean. Wow, today’s Chapulín lunch totally blew this thing away. I was not looking forward to the sweets part of this menu as I was spent — mentally. A series of items I didn’t really care for…

08-desserts

In order from left to right, a very acidic cactus sorbet, preserved grapes with foamy things, and soursop jelly with other sweets. Frankly nothing did anything for me until the last item showed up, the local version of the petits, and it made me smile…

11-churro

Churro! Now this was a nice end to a terrible night. I also asked for some mezcal as this was a stupidly trying meal, and I needed something to take the sting out of this. How the heck did this place get to #35 of the World Best list is beyond me. The execution was terrible for so many of the dishes. One of the worst tasting menus I’ve had this decade.

I left the place unhappy if not tipsy — or worse, thanks to the altitude, a few mezcal, the overly-acidic items that seriously affects my GI system’s equilibrium…and the sense of dread with the Glenn Frey news. So stupidly I parked myself at my hotel bar, toasting Glenn with tequilas, tho I certainly did not manage that until sunrise… What a crappy end to this day…

Again, one of the worst tasting menus I’ve had this decade. Not even overrated, this is just bad.

Quintonil
Calle Isaac Newton 55
Ciudad de México, DF, México