Sunday, January 10, 2016

MOXI in San Miguel, home to Chef/Entreprenuer Enrique Olvera, makes a mean meal, but needs some work in service (1-4-16)

we wanted to save the best for our last night in San Miguel, and also since uber-super-star Mexican Chef Enrique Olvera's Mexico City restaurant, Pujol, was closed for the holiday, we chose his MOXI, meaning "craving" in the local Otomi language. Even though this is only several hours north of the capital, Otomi is more akin to Native American Indians than to the Aztecs who hailed from the now-capital region to the south.
The setting was as elegant as it got in San Miguel, with crisp white linens and crystal in a semi-outdoor setting; of course, we had cigarettes and cigars again! How can these great chefs allow that?
Our sever was slow to bring menus and even slower to take the order and sometimes we have to hail the team down for anything we wanted. They were severely understaffed for a Monday night after a long holiday weekend and tables of Mexicans were flowing in and filling up the previously empty place when we arrived. Bui (Mexican bottled) water was poured and served with a choice of cucumber, lime or spiced orange which was a nice touch, but I have to say it was od that no amuse ever appeared.
The tasting menu was irresistible for 950pesos(about $55US) so Samuel & I went for that as Will still had a bit of queasiness for several nights earlier. He chose the Smoked Tuna Tartare with Radish, Cilantro, Roasted Chile and said it was good, but still not as good as mine! His main course was the Purslane Sea Bass with Shrimp Mole which was a good dish, but again not prize-winning  like the items on the tasting menu. We ordered glasses of Blanco de Mogordito 2012 Valle de Guadalupe which was a superb Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend that worked with Will's fish as well as my first dishes.
Sam & I were presented with the Zanhorias organicas, queso cabra, aceite guajillo, lechugas & crouton. A simple starter salad of carrots, goat cheese, guajillo chili oil, lettuce and croutons which excelled from the chili/lime vinaigrette. Next came the winning Tamal de Elote Dulce, Crema Acida, Queso de Rancho which was a huge bowl filled with creamy sauce masking a sweet corn tamale topped with sour cream and farmer's cheese. Each bite of the tamale got spicier and spicier and built as we discovered it was sitting on a small pool of habanero salsa. Both Samuel & I adored the dish and could have eaten more.
Sopa de Friol,Camaron al Ajillo was a bean soup with garlic shrimp, deep fried corn and epazote and Samuel passed his to Will as he won't touch fish (except salmon and the rare tilapia). Lucky for Will as this was another hit dish bursting with flavors and love.
Sam would not part with his Pumpkin Risotto and Squash Blossoms, although he did give me the two blossoms. The dish was devoid of spice and made a complete turn around from what came before; perhaps a palate cleanser and perfect with the winning red wine we ordered, Ala Rota 2011 from Valle de Guadalupe which was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Petite Sirah/Merlot/Malbec & Tanat which at first was fruity and then turned earthy. Essences of beets and blackberries were abounding, and Will found rubber??
For the main course of the tasting menu we had a choice and Samuel went for the Beef steak with Mushrooms and Pickled Nopales (of course, Will & I ate those--YUM) and I adored the Rack of Pork with Radishes, Watercress, Purslane and Beans. It was crunchy on top and just the right portion so as not to overwhelm. Dessert was Yogurt Jelly, Melon, and Cucumber infused with Gin which was actually a sorbet and oh so refreshing. Chocolate truffles and cookies arrived and the night ended better with improved service and a truly terrific tasting.
I did ask where Chef Olvera was as his Mexico City place was closed and I was told he had spent New Year's in NYC at his new sold-out-all-the-time spot COSME (where I am sure the tasting menu must have run well over $100-200!!)...we got that deal, but in NYC you don't have to pay airfare!