Last Thursday Night, I had the opportunity to entertain an old friend and business client from New York who was visiting Chicago for a few days. He asked me to pick a restaurant that was uniquely Chicago for dinner. He is a foody and a picky eater who regularly finds fault with the food at some of New York's finer restaurants. So, I was challenged.
I considered a number of options before deciding on Chilpancingo based on my past experience at other Bahena restaurants as well as its reputation among other LTHers.
Three of us dined there that evening and Chilpancingo delivered up to and above my expectations. My NY friend commented at the end of dinner, "I've certainly not had Mexican food this well prepared in New York."
For starters, one of my dining companions ordered a shrimp cocktail. The traditional cocktail glass came decorated with four extra large shrimp cured in lime juice. The cocktail part of the dish was a wonderfully fragrant and tasty ceviche featuring scallops, radish, avocado and chilis.
My business associate ordered a Sopa Azteca, a wonderfully rich and smoky chili laden broth with chicken, tortillas and cheese.
I had a sopa in a chicken broth and lime with rich dark meat pheasant. It was perked up by the last minute addition of raw jalapenos.
We were fortunate that during the week that we dined, Bahena was featuring each of the five moles that he serves on a daily basis at Ixcapuzalco.
Our third companion, a bit overwhelmed by his first visit to the place, ordered the manchamanteles mole with a medium rare duck breast at my suggestion. The sliuces of duck breast looked wonderful and he pronounced the Manchamanteles quite to his liking.
My visiting dining companion ordered the chichilo mole with a rack of lamb declaring the combination of chocolate and smoky chilis as the perfect accompaniment for the lamb.
I reverted to the regular menu for Borrego con Borracha, a medium rare rack of lamb served over a simply amazing sauce featuring pasilla chilis, beer, tequila and bacon cooked in a lardon style. What's not to like?
Each of our entrees was served with sweet mashed potatoes in a fried tortilla shell and a basket of fresh tortillas. We each enjoyed an excellent variety of Mexican beers with our dinner.
When the dessert cart rolled around, though we were stuffed, we could not resist. I had the Nevado de Chocolate, a wonderfully well prepared molten chocolate cake with berries and ice cream. What a pleasant surprise to see this dish done so well in a world where it is dome so badly with regularity.
One of my dining companions had the house made key lime pie which was simply one of the most spectacular versions of that wonderful desssert I have ever tasted. Creamy, yet tart with a wonderful cool consistency.
The other chose crepes with goat's milk caramel. He pronounced it good though it appeared to be a distant third in our dessert sampling.
Chilpancingo is a real jewel in the Chicago dining scene. The dining room was comfortable unlike that of its sister Ixcapuzalco. The service was excellent and the food was outstanding.