11570 México, D.F.
Dining date: 8/11/17
On my first trip to Mexico City, Pujol was high atop my desired restaurants to try. Reservations fill up well in advance, but I was able to get an early dinner reservation on a Friday that I would be there (OpenTable can be your friend with some persistence).
Pujol chef Enrique Olvera is the most internationally acclaimed chef from Mexico City. The chef opened Cosme in New York at the end of 2014, which was a hit from the beginning, earning the 40th spot on the top 50 restaurants in the world. Pujol, generally regarded as one of the top fine dining establishments in Mexico, is ranked #20 in the world.
The restaurant recently moved from its original location into a modern, new property in March – it ‘s really a beautiful space. I don’t know what the original location looked like, but I felt like I could’ve been in LA or NYC here – virtually all of the diners were speaking English and the music was loud American hits.
Street snacks baby street corn in smoking calabaza; torta with beef and salsa
Sea bass, cacahuazintle juice, celery
Rice, geoduck clam, scallop, mulato
Cauliflower, almond salsa macha, chile de árbol
Softshell crab, meyer lemon, herbs
Pork chicharron and purslane in salsa verde
Wagyu, fennel seeds, herb guacamole
Mole madre 1354 days, mole nuevo hoja sante
Pulque sorbet, guava
Avocado, coconut, lime, macadamia
Chocolate, pennyroyal, pinole, caramelized banana
The food at Pujol met high expectations, displaying plenty of both familiar and new Latin flavors with strong technique throughout. The play on street corn elote was a fun and delicious start, presented in a smoking whole calabaza squash. The sea bass first course provided plenty of clean sea flavor accented by the juice of a corn (cacahuazintle). Cauliflower was spruced up with a nutty almond salsa and chiles in a deep, savory preparation of the vegetable. Pork chicharron in salsa verde was rich and full of flavor, while the wagyu + guacamole was delicious as well. Beef tenderloin was cooked perfectly and paired with the guacamole; however, the pepper that sat atop the guacamole was way too spicy for me. Both were eaten with tortillas, as was the duo of mole. Two mole were presented, one aged 1354 days and one relatively new. Tasting the differences was a treat, with the aged sauce taking on a much deeper complexity – less heat, more character. Finally, desserts were highlighted by the restaurant’s signature churro – perhaps the lightest, flakiest version I’ve ever had.
While the food was strong, service was lacking at times. Drinks and wines were particularly delayed especially when meant to be paired with certain courses. For example, we ordered a bottle of wine to go along with the crab and cauliflower course. However, when brought out, the restaurant admitted it wasn’t at the proper temperature and recommended chilling for five minutes. The next course came and was completed before our server showed up again with the much-delayed bottle. A similar delay happened with a mezcal cocktail ordered to pair with the mole. These service snafus really took away from the overall experience at Pujol.