Sunday, November 1, 2009

Xochitl: El Dia de los Muertos

I have been planning to eat at Xochtil on 2nd and Pine with my parents for some time now. We missed our opportunity during restaurant week due to reservation issues, but along came the message that they would be featuring a similar sort of four courses tasting menu during the week before Halloween.

I had a rabbit pozole for my soup: one of the reasons for which I chose the tasting menu and Xochitl in the first place. The rabbit was so tender, and the pozole floating in the broth were very good. Unfortunately, there was neither enough lime nor cilantro to make it ring true to its Latin American nature. This was not too much of a disappointment, since the broth was a bit spicy and very rich.

Next, I sampled a swordfish ceviche with mezcal-infused blood orange juice for an appetizer. I really enjoyed the tender, buttery texture of the cured fish. The juice was very sweet, enhancing the flavors of the tomatoes and cilantro already accenting the fish. It was beautiful presented as well, with the juice poured on table-side by our waiter.

Our main courses were rather interesting and certainly rang of the Yucatan. I had a nicely seared, very flaky halibut on top of a bed of pumpkin seed mole. This was new to me, since I have only had authentic mole negro before. This adaptation was a bit too salty on its own, but when paired with the fish, it became much more tolerable and rather tasty. There was also a standard mole negro on the side, but it was a bit too bitter to accompany the fish well on its own. The dish lacked the cumin-coriander kick I am used to from Mexican cooking back home, but was still very good.

Dessert, which should always be a no-brainer was not. We each tried something different, knowing full well that we would not be hungry after the other courses. Our least favorite was a pumpkin clafouti, which was neither creamy nor sweet enough to be labeled a desert. It lacked the sophistication that such a name should inspire. Needless to say, we were not impressed. However, we did like an almond layer cake in a raspberry soup. We though it was a rather tasty take on cake.

All in all, Xochitl was a fantastic dining experience, and the tasting menu always provides excellent insight regarding a restaurant's specialties. We will probably go there again after trying other places. Though tamed for the standard American pallet, the dishes did ring rather true to their concept of nouveau Mexican fusion-style cuisine, and we enjoyed every course.

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