Over a month before my trip to Mexico I was looking for places to eat and enjoy Mexico’s City gastronomy.I wanted to try one of the top rated restaurants in the city so decided to go for # 16 in the San Pellegrino Guide (www.theworlds50best.com), Enrique Olvera’s Pujol (www.pujol.com.mx).
At the booked date, 2:30 pm lunch, went to the so popular and upscale Polanco neighbourhood and arrived at the restaurant. A Nice three story building, wooden façade and a single small door entry, as everything on the inside, simple, minimalistic and modern.
My companion and I were nicely greeted and taken to our table. Comfortable seats, good size table, great environment. Pujol inside is a square room, dark brown painted walls with a couple of long mirrors hanging of them, couple of deco items and with a great simplicity. One of the most minimalistic places I have ever been to.
Menu came around. Nice! A simple white sealed envelope with a thin paper menu inside. By the way, Pujol is a set menu restaurant only but within its set menu, there are three courses where one can choose from a couple of options, nevertheless is plenty of food to enjoy.
Pujol’s menu is, as expected, rooted in Mexican ancestry, pork is present in different ways, mole, aguacate (avocado), different sort of chiles and elote (corn) are some of the traditional Mexican ingredients that can be enjoyed on the elaborated menu available.
But before we got onto food, we didn’t forget about the drinks, wine in this time around. Since eating in Mexico and my will to get to know Mexican wine since I visited Baja California, Mexico’s top wine region, a local wine was the way to go.
My companion, Pinot Grigio lover, gave me free way to pick from the amazing wine list provided by Pujol. A white, that’s what we picked. Food as we have looked at it was going to be more fish driven so decided on a Chenin & Sauvignon Blanc blend, Arrebato 2015 from Ensenada, Baja California.
First courses come around, Botanas, I would say they are the “Mexican Tapas” equivalent. Little portions that make your mouth water since they arrive at your table and open even more your appetite and get you ready for the next ones.
Baby corn (Elotes) with chicatana ant mayonnaise, intriguing, delicate soft in flavour yet with a tiny chile touch. A really nice different way of eating corn.
After those four botanas, “Tartar de Tasajo” (Dried beef) and “Cuitlacoche” (edible mushroom. Comes out of corn) were our options. I insist that when dealing with food, one single ingredient can be prepared in endless ways, this was a time to prove that again. The Cuitlacoche came with a chicken liver, wow, nice and balanced greasy flavour, as a liver is, the avocado, believe it or not, balanced with its delicate, somehow green fatty texture, the whole dish. To me, a delicacy.
Tostadas, octopus, zucchini flours, cilantro, mole, more flavours kept coming till the end when we finished with a “Happy Ending” set of desserts, where obviously Churros were to taste.
Most of the dishes were of our liking, though I believe simple dishes like “Mole madre, mole Nuevo”, where two different kind of moles are mixed and create a great earthy, chocolate influenced, toasty flavours are needed a bit more in the menu. Innovation is great, produce can be interpreted in many ways, flavours felt and tasted differently but sometimes we as clients can get lost and miss the point of creativity and what the chef wants to tell us through the food and dishes.
Let’s don’t forget about service. When eating in high end restaurants, everything counts, food, drinks, wine list, service, waiting stuff, even a clean and organised toilet is a detail to look at.
Pujol’s waiting people for the most part were good but unfortunately more was expected out of them. The restaurant is located in the most populated Latin American city, where companies from all over the world come to do business, where tourist from all over the globe com to visit and at least people expect to communicate in English.
Our main waitress spoke very low English. Taking into account that my companion was an English speaker, to us that was a bit of a low point. I speak Spanish as my native language, so we managed with no problem but that’s not always the case. Translating some ingredients, some Mexican words, are not always accurate by somebody that come from a different Spanish speaking country.
To round up the experience, we had a good time, came out satisfied and would give the restaurant a 4 out of 5. Good food, good drinks, ok service, great company and new tastes and flavours discovered in a 3 hours experience in Mexico City.
Price for two: US$450