2018 – Mexico City – PUJOL
Key Lime Torte
Image by Ted’s photos – For Me & You
We visited Colonia Polanco early in the day to check out where were going to dine this evening – Pujol.

Wanted to try it two years ago but could not get a reservation. So, we made one, back in December for 07 Feb at 6:30 PM, the only Open Table reservation available during our 10 days in the city.

So we went, the restaurant interior is warm and welcoming with lots of wood, the service was amazing, there were so many waiters but they performed their duties without being intrusive. The meal was a 6 course fixed menu. The menu was at the table when we were seated, a single sheet folded and sealed with a wax closure.

Ordered drinks before dinner – USD for a gin and tonic so yes, the prices are over the top too. The food was unlike anything one would think of as Mexican. No nachos and tacos here. We enjoyed the dinner but it was a tad over the top IMO. Been there, done that.

Just before we left for Mexico Mia Stainsby (food columnist from the Vancouver Sun (for your Vancouverites) dined and posted a review in the paper. Further down is her take on Pujol. I think we went to the same restaurant ?

Mexico City offers a dynamic, complex, and delicious culinary ecosystem that has become a food Mecca for cooks and gastronomic geeks.

From restaurants that rank at the top of the most important lists to street food stands, and from the biggest markets of the world to neighborhood bars, pulquerias, cervezerias, and mezcalerias.

If anyone can claim the title to best chef in Mexico, it’s Enrique Olvera and his restaurant Pujol. He takes ingredients that grow in the milpa (maize field) and transforms them into amazingly delicious and previously unknown dishes. The idea, he said, was to make a liquid quesadilla. The creations may be worth it, but getting a reservation in this restaurant might prove tricky. Be sure to plan ahead.

Condé Nast Traveler – World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2017.
20. Pujol
Mexico City, Mexico
22. Quintonil
Mexico City, Mexico

La lista mexicana best restaurants
#5 Pujol, Mexico City
#6 Quintonil, Mexico City
#10 Biko, Mexico City
#15 Sud 777, Mexico City
#17 Amaranta, Toluca
#19 Pangea, Monterrey
#37 Nicos, Mexico City
#39 Corazón de Tierra, Valle de Guadalupe
#48 Dulce Patria, Mexico City

Vancouver Sun January 25, 2018 – MIA STAINSBY

Like our famous geese, Canadians migrate south in winter to defrost. We recently hightailed it out of Vancouver just as the Arctic exhaled its cold nasty breath upon us and we dodged skidding cars as we headed for the airport. No orderly V-shaped pattern for us. Destination: Mexico City.

There, we immediately visited Pujol, the top dog restaurant in the city, the fourth-best in Latin America, and 20th on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef and owner Enrique Olvera pioneered the new Mexican gastronomy movement, shining a bright light on a sophisticated cuisine with a storied history.

I’m not always completely blown away by restaurants sporting Michelin stars or on the world’s 50 best lists. Sometimes, the techniques and artistry are amazing, but I’m left cold or unmoved by a stiff formality on the plate and in the room.
But I was happy at Pujol. Olvera moved the restaurant to new digs last March and at the same time took a more relaxed approach to food and dining.

One area is reserved for an elongated taco bar. The new room is a low-key beauty, a little bit mid-century, a little bit Zen, with Mexican sourced materials and furnishings.
The kitchen reflects Mexican cookery, doing away with burners and saute stations. Instead, staff use a wood-fired grill, comals (earthenware or cast-iron cooking surfaces) for making tortillas, and a brick oven outside for barbacoa. The food is haute, but the atmosphere is very relaxed.

Pujol’s six-course tasting menu — there is no a la carte — costs 8 per person (excluding drinks and tip), but also includes an amuse bouche, palate-cleanser sorbet, and post-dessert treat of a skinny, spiral churro.
The main act begins with a “street snack.” To Olvera, street food is but a Cinderella in need of a prince. And so, we started with a sort of elote, a common street food of grilled corn on the cob slathered with cotija cheese and spicy mayo.
Here, it arrived in a perfect hollowed gourd, sleek as ceramic art. Corn husks smouldered inside, releasing a puff of smoke upon lifting the lid. Nestling baby corns were coated in chicatana mayo (flying ant mayo, further flavoured with coffee, lime and costena chile).
Flying ants appear only during the first two June rainfalls in parts of Mexico and I’m happy to have had this bite of Mexico’s fascinating cuisine.

Moving through the courses, I had ceviche-style sea bass with cacahuatzintle (heirloom corn) juice and celery (such gossamer texture); cauliflower with almond salsa macha (a Veracruz salsa with chipotle chilies, oil, garlic, peanuts, sesame seeds) and chile de arbol, which the server said also contained crispy chicken skin; and finally, duck with black recado (achiote paste), a gorgeous dish.

My husband’s choices were octopus with habanero ink, ayocote and veracruzana sauce (a mini-horror nightmare to me with the plump blackened tentacle sticking out under fresh herbs but beautifully tender and delicious); charred eggplant tamal and chard; and lamb with mint mole and baby potatoes.
The later was the only dish that rated a “meh.” It was cooked to medium rather than medium
rare and was not as tender as it should have been.

Everyone is served the baby corn dish and another signature that climaxes the tasting menu — the mole madre. The mole does not come with a protein. It is, basically, sauce on a plate except for blue corn tortillas, embedded with a leaf, to scoop it up. A black mole (mole negro) encircles a light-coloured one like a bull’seye. The dark mole is a mother sauce, like a sourdough bread starter that keeps on going, and is added to each day. When we had it, it was 1,465 days old, and amazingly deep and complex and beautifully balanced as the pedigree of the mole and the chef suggests. The lighter mole (mole nuevo) spooned into the centre is freshly made. I asked the server about the ingredients in the dish and he responded with a deerin-headlight look. He explained it has more than 80 ingredients, and they change.

My dessert — an apple tamale with a paper-thin crisp disc of apples crowning the dish — didn’t exactly look like a tamale (nothing was wrapped), but it was delicious.
My husband chose chocolate torte with caramelized banana and vanilla ice cream with intrigues of pennyroyal gelatin kisses and pinole, an Aztec-inspired crumble of ground maize, cocoa and spices.
Pujol’s wine list ranges from Latin America to Europe, but curiously, there’s no wine pairing option with the tasting menu. There is, however, an eye-popping array of mescals and other agave spirits.

If Pujol isn’t in your budget, Olvera also runs Eno, a casual restaurant chain in Mexico City. In New York, Olvera operates Cosme, which ranks 40th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.


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