Mexico City, Mexico
December 10, 2018
Quintonil was the 8th restaurant on my quest to visit 50 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It ranked 22nd on the list in 2017 and 11th in 2018.
I feel like an addict seeking desperately for his next fix. Each restaurant I go to, I wonder how many of those Ratatouille moments will hit me.
We arrive at Quintonil, just as it opens, and are quickly taken to our seats. The decor is simple, with maybe a dozen tables in the restaurant. Our table is right at the back, near the entrance to the kitchen. Sadly, without a view of the frenetic dance that I envision behind. Throughout the evening, the servers are in and out like bees to a hive.
I have a view of the bar. I can see the wine glasses being lined up, the next bottle being prepared. The style of glass provides a hint of the next dish to come.
The food was delightful. There were some unexpected surprises in the bunch that stood out. Like a nixtamalized tomato that tasted warm and rich instead of cool and acidic. (Today I learned about nixtamalization.) The bread was probably the best bread I’ve ever had, with a crust that was crunchy but not too thick, and a butter that disappeared way too quickly. (Thankfully, they brought more.)
We were delighted and intrigued by the avocado tartare with escamoles. It had a wonderful contrast in textures and a “grain” that we couldn’t figure out what it was. Which leads me to another “today I learned,” escamoles are the edible larvae and pupae of ants. As Wikipedia says, “they taste buttery and nutty.” It’s probably for the best I didn’t know that at the time.
My favourite dish of the evening was the pork in chile pasado. It was flavourful and balanced. Another dish that I really liked was the Jerusalem artichoke tamale.
My favourite dessert was the Sapodilla fruit rocks. It was such a new flavour that every bite was savoured.
The alcohol pairings were quite good. Every drink, with the exception of one, paired extremely well. A particular standout was a Mexican beer, Finisima. It had a Belgian quality that was smooth and easy to drink. We also had an “orange” wine from the country of Georgia. Yet another “today I learned,” orange wine isn’t made from oranges.
Not every dish was spectacular. The ceviche was a tad too citrusy. And there was a potato dish that was fine but a bit bland. The menu says it was supposed to be fish, so I suspect there wasn’t any good fish available that evening. These dishes were still a 7/10, so it’s not like I still didn’t enjoy them.
All in all, it was a wonderful evening. If you find yourself in Mexico City, I highly recommend spending an evening here. With the currency exchange right now, it’s an exceptional value.