Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Best I Was Not Mad at this Dinner

So (short version of the story) there's this chef, Alex Stupak, who quit his job as WD-50's pastry chef to open fancy Mexican restaurants.  There is nothing I am more skeptical of than fancy Mexican, but having been endorsed by trusted sources, I went and checked out his newly opened Empellon Cocina Monday night.

The short version of my experience: There is no Briggiem vs. Stupak beef.


Avocado with Spicy Grains, Sunchokes and Hazelnut Dressing.

Ruby Red Shrimp with Crispy Masa (a wavy tortilla set on its side, photo doesn't get the idea across perfectly), sea urchin mousse (!!!) and lettuces.

Those first two dishes were super top notch, we unknowingly really front-loaded the quality of this meal.  Not that it the quality went downhill in any sense with the rest of the meal.

Melted Tetilla Cheese with Lobster, Tomate Frito and Yucatan-style White Sauce.  In other words, lobster queso fundido.

Gordita with Sweet Potato, Chorizo, and Egg Yolk.  What I liked best about this one was that the yolk shot out of the gordita when poked.

Squid with Heirloom Potatoes, Chorizo Mayonnaise and Black Mole.  Looked like a family of spaghetti monsters, at first it didn't make a terribly strong impression, but I found myself craving it this afternoon.

Lamb Sweetbreads with Longaniza, Parsley Root and Salsa Papanteca.  Liked it, they served these lamb glands with the right vegetables.

Here's the (slightly) longer version of why I liked Empellon Cocina: I realized what I get mad at is restaurants that fancy-up my enchiladas and tacos and stuff.  The Cocina took Mexican flavors and did (let's say) completely new and different things with them and that I did like.  And truthfully, the closest thing to a misfire we had was the gordita . . . which was the most "traditionally" Mexican item turned fancy we tried.  The more far out things, such as the sideways shrimp tostada with urchin mousse, wer total homeruns for me.  There was a lot more stuff on the menu that I wanted to try (duck tinga, for one) and very hard to stick to "just" six things, so I'll be back.

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