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

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4 thoughts on “Review: Quintonil

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