Pujol: Pushing Culinary Boundaries in Mexico City [MOVED]

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Restaurant Mexico City

Pujol has become a Mexican dining destination in Polanco.

My initial first trip to Mexico City covered a wide culinary swath, including exquisite street tacos, market-fresh seafood tostadas and meals at raucous cantinas. One type of restaurant that Street Gourmet LA founder Bill Esparza was convinced we should experience was “alta cocina,” high end Mexican cuisine. His pick was Pujol, a sleek temple of gastronomy on a Polanco side street from chef Enrique Olvera, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and one of Mexico’s leading practitioners of molecular gastronomy, if people still even use that expression.

Mexican Food Mexico City

For our amuse bouche, our server instructed us to lift the lid on a gourd, revealing a burning corn husk and twin tubes. This ingenious play on a Mexican street food classic reminded me of reverse pop-ups with skewered baby corn bathed in coffee infused mayo, lime and salt.

Mexican Food Mexico City

Our bread course began with a baguette served on hot stone with smoky salsa de chile de arbol; creamy white cow butter dusted with dried chile powder; and yellow Veracruz goat’s butter with lime peel.

Bread Mexico City

A chewy, pull-apart roll of semillas (seeds) included crunchy pumpkin.

Bread Mexico City

Muffin-shaped banana bread was somewhat sweet and seemingly incongruous, but at least it tasted good.

Mexican Food Mexico City

Cebiche de pescado a la Veracruzana (195 pesos ~ $16) played on Veracruz’s flavors and seafood focus. Rosy robalo (snook) strips supported a recognizable but satisfying mixture of lime juice, thin strands of red onion, tomato, sea salt, tangy capers and thin shaved olives. Chile guero contributed mild heat.

Mexican Food Mexico City

Laminas de aguacate rellenas de camaron, mayonesa de chile puya, pesto de cilantro (195 pesos) was less like a relleno and more like a sandwich, with top and bottom sheets of creamy avocado containing sweet minced shrimp, topped with a spicy puya chile aioli accented with tart lime peel and coriander.

Mexican Food Mexico City

Escolar en adobo Oaxaqueño, cuitlacoche nixtamalizado, pure de chicle poblano (195 pesos) was the night’s best seafood dish, with a juicy fillet crusted with sweeter, mildly spicy chile Poblano. The plate hosted chile poblano puree and musty, umami-rich huitlacoche kernels dusted with sea salt and graced with squash blossoms.

Mexican Food Mexico City

Robalo marinado en guajillo y ajo, piña, cebolla cambray, chile Serrano (298 pesos) was a lesser fish dish, with a thick, chile-crusted fillet that was too watery. The fish came with scallions, dill, julienne pineapple, dime cuts of spicy serrano chiles and a sweet, fruity sauce, which all helped to form tacos.

Mexican Food Mexico City

Barbacoa de cordero lechal, consome de jitomate, chayote, calabaza, chicharo (395 pesos) was the night’s big ticket item, and it was an interesting twist on barbacoa. Instead of cooking the lamb in the ground, wrapped in maguey, he cooked a slab sous vide and partially submerged the meat in tomato consommé, curled cucumber sheets, scallions, cylinders of chayote squash, chicharos (fresh peas, served in the pod) and more. Since this was our big ticket item, it invited extra scrutiny. The lamb was tender and plenty easy to eat, but there was very little textural contrast. One of my favorite things about classic barbacoa is finding crusty, browned pieces. Well, that and pancita – chile-rubbed offal – which was also missing from our entree.

Mignardises Mexico City

We didn’t order dessert, but we did receive some good mignardises: squares of peanut nougat, sweet and spicy pineapple-chile pate de fruit, and hibiscus dusted truffle.

Craft Beer Mexico

Hidalgo Stout, brewed in a neighboring state, wasn’t especially friendly to dishes we ordered, but the rich, chocolatey beer eschewed the country’s typical lager and Pilsner paradigm and proved irresistible.

Enrique Olvera also owns and operates a pair of gastro-delis in the neighborhoods of Chapultepec Polanco and Lomas de Chapultepec, which he calls Eno. Teo may be even more interesting; Olvera works with staffers at this kitchen and workshop to investigate and learn about cuisine using “creatividad, sensibilidad e inteligencia” [creativity, sensibility and intelligence]. As it turns out, Chef Olvera wasn’t in Pujol’s kitchen during our meal, but with many dishes, chefs helped demonstrate that he’s already at the leading edge of contemporary Mexican cuisine, and as long as he continues to delve deep – which it sounds like he’s doing – he has the potential to serve as a beacon of gastronomy, and not just in Mexico.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

I went to Pujol back in March 2013 and I enjoyed the overall experience. I ordered the Chef’s menu, which I thought was priced reasonably for a Top 100 restaurant, but was a bit disappointed with the desserts. That said, I would still recommend giving Pujol a shot if you are in DF.

Read my complete review at http://www.iamlatam.com/pujol-mexico-city-mexico/

iamLATAM, Pujol is probably worth trying if people are visiting Mexico City, but the idea that it’s one of the Top 100 restaurants in the world is a stretch. Izote was better during my stay, and I get the sense that Biko would be more rewarding, though it’s not the same style of cuisine.

I could use that escolar right now. Wish Enrique would have been cooking that night.

That escolar was good. Next stop: Biko

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