After our visit last night I hesitate to give Tequila Kitchen a review for a couple of reasons: They are still in a "soft opening" mode and (although they have a fully equipped kitchen) they are having city licensing issues with the operation of their gas stoves. They are using electric burners. With that disclosure, I'll forge on...
TK's concept is Botanas (Mexican tapas) and Agave (in the form of tequila and tequila based drinks). The management seems committed to providing authentic Mexican dishes through their limited menu. The room is great - clean, well designed and wide open.
My wife and I had the April tasting menu ($37 per)...which I quote from their website
Aguachile de Camarón
Butterfly shrimp marinated in lime, onion, orange, oregano and chile.
Hongos al Ajillo
Sautéed mushrooms with, guajillo chile, garlic and olive oil.
The real deal. Homemade with fresh avocados. Made to order, spicy as you can handle.
Sopa de Tortilla
Rich tomato and dry chile soup with thin tortilla crisps, avocado, cheese and cream
Literally translates to “tablecloth stainer.” Oven cooked pork with a 2 mild chiles, spices and fruit sauce.
Halibut filet rubbed in Yucatan achiote paste wrapped in banana leaf and oven baked.
Pollo en Pipian Verde
Chicken breasts in a green pumpkin seed sauce
(served with esquites and rice)
Peras en Salsa de Piloncillo y Tequila
Layered pears and whipped cream with a Mexican Brown Sugar and Tequila Sauce
Coffee Liqueur and cream on ice
So how was it?
Weeelll.......I have to be honest and say that I was expecting "more and better". Most of the dishes where well executed....but some of them lacked some familiar robustness. Knowing that the kitchen was not in full operation certainly tempers my expectations a little.
Also, the "Tasting Menu" context is a difficult one to pull off for some of the dishes. Some examples...
The Manchamanteles lacked robustness...all the flavour was in the sauce...the flavours didn't penetrate into the pork (which was a little chewier than it should have been). It probably need to stew a bit more.
The halibut in the Tikin Xic was a little dry and lacked flavour. If you are familiar with this type of dish, you'll know that it usually comprises big chunks of meat or fish (or even whole fish) in a savoury sauce (or rub, in this case) that is then wrapped in banana leaves and baked. This rendition was a small sashimi sized parcel which resulted in a fish that was drier than it should have been.
The rest of the dishes were great - especially the Aguachile de Camarón (ceviche)...very fresh tasting.
The tequila-based margaritas rocked. We hade a traditional Lime Margarita, a Hibuscus margarita, and my favourite - a Cucumber and Serrano Margarita.
OK...so despite some issues, I do support their manifesto to bring authentic Mexican restaurant food to Vancouver. I am willing to accept authenticity that is a couple of notches below what you will see in authentic Mexican restaurants in Mexico and in some parts of the US just to have the option of eating dishes that aren't tacos, burritos, etc.
I will definitely come back to support their vision. Next time I will wait until the kitchen was in full operation and order the full dishes (not the Tasting Menu). I wish these guys well. We need more of these restaurants here in town.
1043 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B, CA