Thursday evening, I decided to sample the more refined side of DFW cuisine. Due to a long, grueling day at work, I was physically and mentally beat, so I balked at my previous plans to try the Tasting Room at Lola or the bar at Mansion on Turtle Creek. I figured Ciudad would be a good compromise.
Even after having viewed the menu on-line (www.ciudaddf.com) I was expecting kind of a transcendent, creative take on Mexican cuisine, similar to Bayless' joints in Chicago with which I'm familiar and enjoy. I was a bit surprised (not necessarily in a negative way) to see most of the items based on common items (shrimp, scallops, beef and port tenderloin) and pedestrian-sounding moles and sauces.
Anyway, I chose the Ceviche Tropical appetizer. The marinade had a nice, palate-grabbing tartness, balanced well by the overall sweetness of the seafoods. My criticism, though was that the scallop, shrimp and octopus were so finely chopped that it was impossible to discern each individual flavor amid the aggressive citrus. Visually, you couldn't tell the bits apart, save for the color of the octopus. To add to the challenge, the accompanying fork was huge, which made it difficult to spear the little bits out of the juice.
For the entree, I chose the Costillas en Mole (beef short rib in winter vegetables). As it should be, the meat was rich and fell apart with a touch of the fork. The vegetables were hearty and flavorful. My only hesitation in fully endorsing the dish (wow...I make myself sound important) was that the sauce was thin and lacked the "zing" or intensity that I was expecting it to add to the meat. That element could have really set the dish apart; but, that said, I never complain too strongly when sauces and accompaniments stay out of the way of the flavor of beef in a dish. Overall, very satisfying entree.
Everything I read about Ciudad says to save room for dessert, but I decided to save that for another time (yeah..I'd go back). The above, plus the excellent chips and salsa were enough for one night.
Maybe it was high expectations, my weary mood and energy level that night, or the fact that I bypassed more exquisite places, but Ciudad didn't really blow me away or expand my culinary horizons like I was expecting. My impression was: a fine restaurant, worth visiting again, but not quite up to the hype it gets in the "mainstream".
FOOTNOTE: Javier's was recommended as an alternative by the vendor I was working with. I'd like to know how they compare as I'm considering it for my next trip down.
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