Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

All Glitz and no Substance

I enjoy good food, and I don't mind splurging from time to time at an expensive restaurant.  However, frequently the trendy places that the gourmet elite declare to be "oh-so-wonderful" have been big disappointments to me.  There are a couple high-end places in Mexico City that I read about frequently on Trip Advisor.  From the reviews you would think that they are the Holy Grail of dining... and they charge over $100 US per person, a price that only tourists and the wealthy Mexicans could afford.  I look at pictures of their dishes and see BIG plates with a little dollop of food in the center.  And I guess I am just not sophisticated enough to want to try things like grasshoppers or ant eggs.  No thank you!

One restaurant, however, that I did want to try is a place called "Azul".  People rave about its traditional Mexican cuisine featuring regional specialties from different parts of the country.  There are several locations including one in the Centro Histórico, so last week on one of my trips downtown I decided to give it a try.

The restaurant is beautiful, located in the courtyard of a colonial mansion.

I was seated near the ladies that make hand-made tortillas.

I was brought some tortillas... the top one imprinted on a griddle with a picture.

Then I tasted one.  I thought, "What the heck did they put in their dough?"  They barely tasted of corn.  I've had better tortillas cranked off the machine at the supermarket.

My order was fairly conservative... dishes that I have eaten before so that I could make a comparison.

I began with tortilla soup.

The soup was served in a beautiful bowl that had a cover shaped like a "Catrina".  The waiter pointed out that the soupspoon was gold-plated.  The soup was good, but exceptional only in price.  At 159 pesos (around $8) it was probably the most expensive soup that I have ordered in Mexico.  I guess they have to pay for those gold spoons somehow!

My main course was chicken breast in Oaxacan black mole.

It is garnished with a slice of plantain and squash blossoms.  I pushed the blossoms to the side since I have never particularly cared for them.

The menu said that the dish was prepared following strict Oaxacan traditions.  Well, I have had black mole in Oaxaca, and this pales in comparison.  It was bland and lacking in flavor.

Even though the restaurant was not making a good impression, I went ahead and ordered dessert... a foam of mamey (mamey is one of my favorite tropical fruits from Mexico).

The dessert was just like the restaurant... very pretty presentation, but all fluff with no flavor.  There was barely a hint of the taste of mamey.

My bill came to $34 US.  That may not seem like much, but for Mexico that is a rather expensive, especially considering that I did not order any alcoholic beverages.  So if fancy tableware and gold spoons are important to you, by all means dine at Azul.  Otherwise, there are many restaurants that serve much better Mexican cuisine! 

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