Pujol, Mexico City
February 25, 2009
On February 21, 2009, Judith, Linda and I went to Pujol. This eight year old restaurant is considered by many to be the best in Mexico City. We were surprised when we arrived at 8:00 to find the dining room already over half full. That probably indicates a high proportion of foreigners. The noise level was quite high with conversation over unnecessary music. The decor is quite simple. The light level was low and I had trouble with the self-focus of my camera. My photos of the menus were illegible and some of the dishes were not on the website so I don’t have the proper titles for them.
After consultation with the waiter, we ordered a bottle of 2007 Celesteblanco from Mariatinto, the vineyard in Baja California whose red wine we had liked so much the night before at Biko. It was all sauvignon blanc and very good. For red wine we had a bottle of 2006 Kórima, Shimul, Álvaro Ptacnick. This blend of half Dolcetto and half Petite Syrah from near Ensenada was good, but not as good as the Mariatinto red. Both wines were put into decanters, which seems to be one of two good standard features of upscale Mexican wine service. The other is that the waiter asks before refilling your glass, not just filling the first glass he sees, which seems to be standard in both the U.S. and France.
Linda’s first course was sweetbreads with potato sticks and pesto
Despite her fuzzy photo she said that the sweetbreads were done well, although some a little chewy. The potato sticks and pesto were a good combination.
Judith and I started with
Cebiche “al vacío”
This nice cevice of grouper was quite delicate with both the lime juice and the pepper just noticable.
Judith went on to
Lenguado a la veracruzana
This thick piece of “sole” was served on top of yellow and red cherry tomatoes and green olives surrounded by a tomato broth. Good.
Mahi-mahi with sweet corn
Linda’s mahi-mahi was flavorful, but a little dry because she did not want the lemon sauce usually served on this dish. She chose it because the waiter who helped her understand the Spanish menu made her realize that their were very few dishes which were not piquante.
My second course was
Venado en recaudo negro
There were three slices of a filet of venison roasted coated with recado negro–”black recaudo”–a seasoning paste which contains burnt tortillas and chiles, black pepper, garlic, annatto and oregano. The burnt ingredients are soaked to remove the bitter flavor and ground with the remaining spices. The venison was served on a banana purée with more black recaudo around the edges. The whole dish was excellent.
Judith’s dessert was
Pie cremosa de limón verde, merengue, helado de yoghurt
She thought this was delicious, like a disembodied key lime pie.
My dessert was
Crème brulée de mamey
Mamey sapote is a tropical fruit with a flavor somewhat between a mango and a sweet potato. It made a very nice flavor for a crème brulée.
There were nice little mignardises.
Our evening at Pujol was very nice, but a whole level below that at Biko the evening before. Both restaurants have a Mexican-European fusion concept, but in ambience, service and cuisine at Pujol we did not sense the consistant fine tuning which is a mark of a top level restaurant. Although there were some very good dishes, Pujol‘s efforts at including Mexican authenticity sometimes retained the less interesting aspects.