Sunday, December 27, 2015

Porfirio's in Polanco, Mexico City is pretty good, but pretentious (12-26-15)

Our first night in Mexico City took us to a very beautiful if  extremely noisy, high end "meat joint" in Polanco that was recommended by the hotel. We were seated in a very nice, but quite dark large room in large comfy leather chairs at a huge table that seemed built to hold the monstrous trays of meats being delivered to them. There were odd chandeliers that looked like they were wrapped in plastic red cellophane as well.  We noticed video screens portraying what Sam said was a kid's play area, and sure enough we were told that on weekends they have this for the kids to run off and play; a novel idea, and I guess the parents can watch. Wrong, the video changed shortly thereafter and often had loud music videos put on by a nearby DJ, which just is not what I want when I am trying to relax and enjoy my food.
We ordered some of the fun frozen drinks called Josephina de Limon. Will had limon made with Mezcal 400, Controy (Mexican Cointreau), lemon juice, and soda while my Josphina di Pepino featured the same ingredients with cucumber instead and both had Chile Trajin lined glasses for a dash of spice, and chili flakes were also brought if we wanted to shake them on; I did. We saw fun carts going around the place which were delivering corn on the cob and we later saw it was smothered with what seemed to be mayo and then crunchy flakes and served on a raised to mouth level apparatus that allowed you to turn the corn and eat it--brilliant and fun. We even saw one dish being delivered with a smoking train to a table of some kids.
Our first server Luis spoke English, but then they switched as larger groups arrived and we got Abraham, who was nice, but his English wasn't so great. We let Samuel do the translating and he has been so superb, there are words we just cant seem to get translated as they are the same on both menus. Last night it was "esquites" which Abraham said was something in a glass? It's on the menu for tonight's dinner, so I will try and inquire yet again as it is translated as "popcorn" and "esquites" in many places; that's a ton of help!
We ordered away and Samuel explained that we wanted a rest of at least 20 minutes between the courses, as the food has been so filling and rich and we wanted to enjoy and relax. We saw the monster portions arriving around us and knew this was a smart move.
We had also received our wine, my favorite Mexican wine called Gabriel 2013 Adobe Guadalupe from Valle de Guadalupe which is 45% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Malbec yet has the most awesome chocolate flavor that makes it work so well with not only mole, but so many other intensely flavored Mexican foods. I hope it is on the menu many more times.
We had also received a pate of salsas (tomatillo, rojo(red) and mucho rojo(super spicy red). There were amazing crispy chili dusted tortillas in a stand as well as a bean dip with queso fresco and an amazing salsa made from the nopal cactus that I am in love with. At this point someone came over to take our order, yet we had done that ages ago; I felt the place was ruled by a low level of confusion.
Sam started with El Tamal which was a magnificently presented chicken tamale with salsa verde on top of an adorable wooden "bus," the kind that you might know from Puerto Rico, but here turned into a raised plate...loads of fun. Incidentally, once again many of the photos of these dishes from all week and future meals can be seen on my FB page....
Will ordered the Degustacion de Ceviches which were three different ones of fish, shrimp and octopus. I tasted the fish which was okay, but he said all three were exactly the same preparation; so much for variation! I chose form the daily special "Quesadillas" which had 5 or 6 different ingredients that you choose and then come with a yummy thick sour cream dip and lettuce (not sure for what), so I thought two were just the right size: Huitlacoche (a Mexican mushroom, also called corn truffle that I adore) and Flor de Cabeza, the same Squash Blossom that Will had the previous night, which was superb. Oddly, when these arrived they were giant empanadas, not quesadillas; it seems that each place uses these words as they please and it all makes no sense to me. Despite the nomenclature, they were awesome and also huge portions and I was so thankful we had asked for that break.
About 9 minutes after they cleared the starters, the main course arrived and we tried to explain that we had asked for 20 minutes at minimum. We were all stuffed from the dips, salsas and starters and needed time for sure, but Abraham seemed to tell Samuel that he understood 20 minutes from when he took the order to begin with...which was stupid. I had to talk to the manager, and it was all eventually straightened out, but not without them all staring at us like we were nuts; Samuel said that he overheard the staff calling us "the 20 minute people..." That said we had another 20+ minutes, time to digest and also some excellent wine on its own before the main courses did arrive all freshly redone. The folks around us seemed to order platter after platter of whole pig, whole cow, whole everything all cooked and looking amazing, but they all ate so fast. We sat down at 745pm or so and finished our starters at 845pm and then got the main courses about 925pm and headed out around 1015pm, yet the 5 folks next to us had four various monster plates, dessert and more, all in under 90 minutes! It seems Mexicans eat very fast.
Samuel ordered the Tacos de Suadero of steak, cilantro and onion and loved them, while Will went with the Chile Relleno Picadillo, a stuffed Poblano with ground beef, almond & tomato all in a rich thick chipotle sauce with crema. It was delish, yet the sauce seemed to have some seeds that he got super-spiced on. My Filete Tampiquena was a dream steak marinated simply and grilled to perfection so that I could enjoy all of the superb salsas on it should I want a kick (& I did). On the side was a bowl of beans which actually had potatoes and frank slices in it as well, avocado and then three miniature, but nonetheless rich and filing Chicken Mole Empanadas, which were NOT empanadas, but really rolled and not fired tortillas, hence really enchiladas...nomenclature yet again.
We split one dessert of Flan which was so beautiful when it arrived with a giant ball of spun sugar. The flan here was more like a vertical torte than a flat custard, but still delicious.
We had noticed that every table got this "tree" of flat colored discs after dinner and we finally got our "house gift" called Pepitoria. I wondered why they all came and nobody seemed to eat them, as they were the blandest floury discs on earth, save for the little drizzle of honey in the middle of a couple of them. They would save a ton of money if they eliminated them. On the way out we grabbed the delicious little milk chocolate logs that were on the front desk; they were yummy and should replace the Pepitoria!
Overall, a fun experience, a pretty good dinner, a price tag that would freak out anyone from Puebla or Cholula as our meal here with 2 drinks and one bottle of wine rang in at just over $200 (still a good deal compared to the US), but remember that our lunch for 4 was under $20!