I asked Deborah Morris, MD, PA-C, who met me in Mexico City before we traveled together to Oaxaca, to contribute to this blog by writing some of her impressions. She was dazzled by Quintonil and gives us this report.
On our last evening in Mexico City, after a day of eating homely (and tasty) street food, we decided to splurge. Lesley from Eat Mexico recommended upscale Quintonil and we snagged a last minute reservation there. We dressed up, and took a cab through pouring rain and awful traffic to an inconspicuous side-street in the Polanco neighborhood. Parked along the streets were Mercedes’ and BMW’s, yet, the restaurant entrance was unassuming except for the doorman who opened his umbrella and sheltered us from rain pellets as he guided us in. Impressive!
The restaurant is not large, seating maybe fifty people. The decor and ambience, streamlined, subtle and quiet. We could tell this was going to be all about the food and service. Our waiter presented us with a paper menu folded like origami, a secret package revealing an astounding menu, each dish described in loving and mouth-watering detail. The Mexican red wine we wanted was only available by the glass, but the manager agreed to sell us a whole bottle at a very reasonable cost.
Almost immediately, our servers delivered a small loaf of fresh-baked sourdough bread, along with a small bowl of butter infused with huitlacoche, the delicious corn fungus, a second bowl of a silky black bean purée with shreds of hoja santa, an anise scented herb, and a third bowl filled with a complex sweet-tart-deep-picante salsa. The bread on its own would have been good. The accompaniments made it heavenly.
Making a first course choice was difficult. We passed up the smoked spider crab tostada with lime, watermelon radish and Habanero mayonnaise. Instead, we opted to share a melt-in-your-mouth scallop carpaccio on a sprinkle of a green lime and onion flavored oil. The garnish was slices of plantain rolled into cones and dabs of a tart lime chile mayonnaise. Texture, flavor and temperature met in small perfect bites that had us moaning superlatives under our breath.
Between each of our three courses, our waiter delivered a little surprise. After the scallops, we both received a small gourd bowl holding a smooth potato purée flavored with little crunchy bits of chorizo. It was glorious. (Photo below.)
For her entrée, Norma selected a Baja red fish fillet (photo below) perfectly cooked with a glossy center, presented on a base of kale and kohlrabi purée glazed with an orange and red chilhuacle (meaning ancient chile in Aztec) sauce and topped with fresh lettuce leaves.
Mine was a square of duck breast with crisp skin and red juicy middle, tender enough to cut with a fork, covered with an amazing dark red mole flavored with huitlacoche and garnished with tiny ears of corn, quartered and sautéed. We shared these dishes, too, oohed and aahed, and felt grateful to have found this place.
Another little regalo, or present, came after the main course in the form of a green tuna sorbet. Topping the tuna, or nopal cactus fruit, was black smoked sea salt.
We certainly could not pass up dessert, although we did resist a Mexican chocolate dish baked in a pottery bowl that had that spicy, cinnamon and nut rich aroma that wafted in our direction when delivered to the next table. Norma’s mix of fresh and candied figs was adorned with a little scoop of a creamy cheese ice cream and lacy wafers of caramelized honey (below right). I had flan with fresh flowers.
Of course, there was no way we could finish drinking that entire bottle of red wine, so we offered what remained to two women dining at the next table. They were drinking the same wine by the glass.
In anticipation and before we could even ask, the manager came to the table to ask if we needed a taxi, which arrived muy pronto in less than ten minutes. We traveled back to our B & B completely content. Now, back to real life!
- Quintonil Restaurante
- Newton 55, Polanco Álvaro Obregón, 11560 Federal District, Mexico
- +52 55 5280 1660
And the last gift, a sprinkle of chocolate mints in a surprise package grand finale — as if we needed anything else!