As usual, for full review and all the photos, please visit the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...
Sorry this review is very late as we had this meal back in February. But I hadn't heard anything about the restaurant lately, so would be curious what recent visitors have to say as well.
It's a good restaurant with good food. If a friend wanted to go to a trendy restaurant and we ended up there, I wouldn't be disappointed. But it's just way overhyped by the food media. This is not a restaurant that will change how NYers view Mexican food. The night we went, the New York Times had just awarded them 3 stars. But even with chef Olvera in the house that night celebrating the review, there were some things that just seemed to be missing.
Everything involving corn was phenomenal. This includes all the tortillas and tostadas, as well as the purple corn chileatole served with the octopus cocktail, and the signature husk meringue dessert. Some items on the menu were more of the "check things off the list" variety, such as the seafood stuffed avocado or the uni tostada (uni! bone marrow!), which I liked far less than the mussel tostada which had a great depth of flavor. When I think of Mexican or Mexican-inspired food, I think of either freshness or depth of flavor. While freshness of flavor was evident in some of the dishes such as the scallop and the excellent cobia al pastor, none of the dishes really presented a depth and complexity of flavor except for the pozole. This was especially disappointing in regard to the enfrijolada. In terms of food, everything overall was good. And when I say everything, I mean literally almost everything, as the 6 of us ordered everything on the menu except for 4 items.
Service was friendly and prompt. That is excellent for a trendy, busy NYC restaurant considering the large number of horrible waitstaff in the city filled with actor/singer wannabes. But for a critically acclaimed, sophisticated, serious restaurant, that's not enough. We had already mentioned that we were ordering practically the entire menu to share. The first miscue was when the server told us that the hamachi would not be large enough to share, and recommended we get two orders. We decided to get one order first and see how it turned out. It turned out that there were 5 slices of fish for the 6 of us. You're telling me we couldn't just pay for that one extra slice so that everyone could have one? Don't bullshit me with that everything is pre-portioned crap. The second miscue was when they brought our duck carnitas (meant to serve two) along with the accompanying basket of tortillas. Two tortillas. Seriously?
What made this worse was that these were things that should have had two opportunities to have been corrected before they got to the table. Not only should the server communicate with the kitchen, but a diligent world class chef should notice these things and question what goes out. "Two tortillas for a 6-top?" And yet they said Olvera was in the kitchen that night, although I don't know if he was manning the pass.
Yes, the portions are small and the prices add up quickly. That has pretty much been mentioned on most of the reviews out there. But considering we ordered almost the entire menu, including all the desserts (but only one of the main entrees), the price for one person including tax and tip without alcohol was a very reasonable $100. So no arguments there, although I doubt diners can achieve those economies of scale without a group of 6.