Had dinner with some fellow hounds at Tu y Yo in SOmerville this week and wanted (well, was deputized by others!) to report to the boards.
For those who haven't been (which included me until this week), Tu Y Yo is a sit-down restaurant which specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine -- not Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex. As far as I know, they don't specialize in one region; rather they try to present a range of different styles. The place itself is nicely decorated, although a little spare. We had arranged to have a few special dishes which aren't on the regular menu -- the chef is extremely interested in showing people a more elegant side of Mexican cuisine. Anyway, to the dishes!
We started with appetizers of 2 different quesadillas, both with a cheese mixture, one filled with flor de calabaza (squash blossom) and one with huitlacoche -- aka "mexican truffle', aka corn mushroom, aka "corn smut" (in decreasing order of enticingness); and a mini tostada ("tostadito"!) -- a little fried tortilla chip with refried black beans, shredded beef slow-cooked with ancho, chipotle and guajillo peppers, with a little queso anejo (aged cheese) on top. These were all excellent -- the quesadilla was more like a turnover than the fried flour tortillas that I've seen at taquerias around here. Squash blossom is a pretty subtle taste, but it worked nicely with the cheese, and the huitlacoche has a pretty deep wild mushroom flavor. The tostaditos were excellent too -- the beef really had the complex flavors of those chiles cooked into it.
For entrees we had:
Chile en Ahogada -- poblano chile stuffed with beef picadillo, and served with cold cream sauce made of almonds, chiles and pomegranite seeds. This was stunning, both visually and on the palate. The roasted poblano was wonderful -- almost fruity, and matched very well with both the sauce and the beef picadillo, which is a mixture of ground beef, raisins, and some spices. Folks who don't like savory-sweet combinations might not dig it, but the sweetness is very well controlled.
Poblano pepper (vegetarian) with huitlacoche. This was also very good, and I was surprised to like the *texture* of the huitlacoche -- sort of chanterelle-like -- as well as the flavor. The poblano was less sweet than the beef-stuffed one above, which may have been intentional, or maybe just the vagaries of the pepper crop. Both this and the above dish are not on the menu, so call ahead if you want them to make it for you -- some ingredients aren't always available.
Camaron al chipotle -- jumbo shrimp grilled in bay leaves, garlic, oranges and chipotle sauce. Well, the sauce was nice, but others will have to comment on the shrimp since they were GONE by the time I got the dish! (leaving me to feel like Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune -- "Now I'll have my OWN order of ginger prawns, please.")
Pulpo Pichirilo -- octopus sauteed with vegetables, black and green olives in a vinaigrette sauce. This was nice, but I'll leave it to the cephalopodophiles to give more informed commentary. I thought it was maybe a little dry.
Pollo Yunkaak (Aztec Maize God) -- boneless chicken breast stuffed with huitlacoche and spinach sauce. This was great -- very moist chicken, great filling, and a gorgeous creamy green sauce. Highly recommended.
Pescado Criolla -- Idaho Rainbow trout, in creamy Guajillo sauce. This sauce was fantastic, the trout was nice but I was concentrating on other dishes so again, fellow hounds can comment better than I can.
Pescado Tlaloc -- Atlantic pollack,Tlaloc style in light chipotle sauce onions and peppers. I just loved this -- the sauce was very thin and bright-tasting -- nice tender fish, and the onions and peppers had softened and absorbed the sauce for maximum deliciousness.
Cochinita Pibil -- marinated shredded boneless pork loin broiled in Mayan sauce with spices. The FLAVOR of this was great, but it was a little dry, as one would expect of pork loin, which is an awfully lean cut. It's pretty much just a big plate of shredded meat -- I gather than one is supposed to eat it with the corn tortillas or the rice and beans? Tasty, but I am surprised they don't use a cut like pork shoulder to provide more fat and moisture. And it was the only dish where the presentation wasn't much to look at. I might get some to take home and make burritos or enchiladas, though.
(many thanks to yumyum, from whom I've cribbed these descriptions)
We also had some white sangria (not something I'd get here again -- don't know if I just don't like white sangria, or if Tu y Yo's just isn't good -- it seemed just sweet and not very complex in flavor), beer and wine. ANd flan for dessert, which was less creamy than some, but which I thought had wonderful flavor -- less dark caramelly than some, more fruity.
The service was extremely friendly -- it certainly helps to express interest to them about the cuisine, since they are clearly trying to raise people's expectations of Mexican food. Most entrees are 10-15 dollars, appetizers are under 5 dollars. I certainly plan to go back and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.