When food critic Gail Simmons announced that Rick Bayless's Oaxacan black mole is the best mole she's ever had, I was intrigued. When Rick beat out contestants Michael Chiarello and Hubert Keller to win the title of Top Chef Master with this mole dish, my intrigue turned into an obsession.
After months of anticipation, I was finally going to sample this mole (or at least one of Rick's mole) in person. My friends and I were greeted and seated promptly. The waiter brought chips and salsa and was very attentive throughout the night. All signs are a go.
I ordered the Braised Short Ribs in Oaxacan Yellow Mole and the Grilled Mary's Chicken Enchilada. Of course I dug into the mole dish first. I have never had mole before so I had no basis for comparison. All I knew going in was this first bite is going to be amazing... but wait, why isn't anything happening? My taste buds are not tantalized. This mole dish tastes like ordinary beef stew, garnished with tiny potato chips. I must be mistaken. I took another bite. Same outcome.
Meanwhile my friends were experiencing the same lackluster effect with the Pork Belly Sopes and Tuna Ceviche. (The latter dish was actually very fishy. They very nearly sent it back).
My husband had the Yucatecan Spiced Beef Tacos. The beef was tender and flavorful. The accoutrements of guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream were fresh and balanced. Overall, the tacos were delicious but nothing spectacular.
I then skeptically tried the enchilada. I had to take two bites before announcing to everyone at the table: "You have to try this!" The chicken was tender and juicy but the star was the creamy tomatillo sauce; it was an explosion of flavor, unlike anything I've ever had any Mexican restaurant. I could have eaten that sauce with tortillas all night. Everyone at the table mopped up every bit of the sauce with all the tortillas we could find.
Overall, I recommend the Grilled Mary's Chicken Enchilada if you were already planning a night out at the Red O. Would I come back just for that dish? Probably not. I need more than one good dish, Rick!
8155 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046