Tag Archives: fine dining

The Casual Restaurant Critic at a Xcanatun Wine Pairing Event

Hacienda Xcanatun, one of the Critic’s favorite go-to options when you want to eat in a civilized manner, without crowds, without downtown traffic (bonus: no retenes! for after-wine driving peace of mind) just the other day had an interesting event featuring some of their typically fabulous food paired with some delicious wine from Baja California, part of a collection called The Four Seasons by Proyecto Vinícola de México (links at the bottom of the page) On this occasion, three of those seasons were presented to the folks attending.

Since wine is such a subjective topic, we shall leave the flowery descriptions to others far more qualified than the Critic. Nevertheless, there was one fine Chardonnay (Spring) accompanied by both a home-made duck paté as well as a terrific no-lime esmedregal ceviche and one very rich red blend (Fall), the latter a favorite at the Critic’s table, with definite notes of forest fire and earthiness. ‘Velvet’ was was another term that came to mind after some serious consultation and mouth swirling with the Critic’s always entertaining table neighbor, the Sculpting Critic and her husband, the Eagle Scout. That’s some pretty flowery wordplay right there…

As usual, a terrific experience at Hacienda Xcanatun.

The menu, with what appears to be one unfortunate typo

A delicious meaty paté

Spring, one of the four seasons collection – a Chardonnay – presented this evening

Hearty meat dish with grilled veggies to accompany the smoky Fall wine blend

Fall, which you might do after having too much of this delicious wine

Fall, again

Part of the fun was trying to figure out what the medallion around the sommeliers’ neck was all about. “Lemon squeezer” was one guess from the Critic’s happy table partners

Scrumptious chocolate cake to accompany the Winter wine, a South African dessert wine made especially for the Mexican label

The dessert wine Elefante sparkles on the left and the sultry Fall wine rests sullenly on the right. The angle of the photo was seriously affected by wine consumed up to this point

Links for more info:

Proyecto Vinícola de Mexico

Hacienda Xcanatun

The Casual Restaurant Critic at Hacienda Xcanatun

OK, it’s been a while. In fact, the Critic hasn’t written a review of Xcanatun since way back in 2008 when the food was delicious but the service was not up to the standards of the kitchen.

Things have changed. For the better.

Fresh Menu

The Better Half and the Critic had lunch at Xcanatun a few weeks ago and oh boy was it good.  A new chef in the kitchen; a talented young woman who came by later to say hello, has created some remarkable new menu items that will delight your tastebuds and leave you wanting to try them all.

As appetizers, the Critic and Better Half over-ordered once again and had a splendid selection of oysters, half Rockefeller and half Mayan. The Critic preferred the fresh, raw and zesty Mayan oysters over the semi raw Rockefeller version but both were great. Also, steamed mussels in a savory broth – the kind you have to sop up with toasty fresh bread. Waiter, get your hands off that bowl, we’re not quite done with it. The Better Half, a fan of all things raw, ordered Steak Tartare which is definitely not on the Critics bucket list but what the heck, he tried it and liked it. A lot. Ate half the plate in fact.

Mussels

 

Oysters Rockefeller

 

Steak Tartare Presentation

Steak Tartare Texture

With three appetizers down the main courses arrived. A pork barbeque dish for Better Half which she loved, proclaiming it “perfect” (the Critic loves more sauce on his ribs) while the Critic had the steak stuffed with cochinita pibil and smothered in cochinita pibil gravy. Yes, it sounds decadent and thoroughly artery-clogging, and it may have been, but it was also perfectly cooked and outrageously delicious.Finally, the Critic can never resist a lemon or lime pie, and Xcanatun did not disappoint. Fresh, tangy, light and a perfect end to a perfect meal.

Pork BBQ Ribs

Steak with Cochinita Pibil

Pay de Limon

By this time, dear reader, you are probably saying “yes, Mr. Critic, but what about that service you so bitterly complained about last time?” Well the Critic is happy to report that you will feel like you are experiencing a production that has been polished and polished again until each edge is absolutely smooth. From the moment the parking lot attendant opens your car door with a flourish and a smile to the welcome you receive from the security man in front of the restaurant to the open door and welcome  you get once at the restaurant, you will experience the comforting feeling that you are in good hands and can relax and enjoy a truly superb dining experience.

Highly recommended and one of Merida’s – if not the – best.

Rosas and Xocolate Revisted

On a very busy (restaurant-wise) weekend, the Casual Restaurant Critic and his lovely wife were invited along with the critical folks from Elio the night before to re-sample Rosas and Xocolate. The Critic uses the term re-sample because, of course, there was a previous visit – also on a Saturday night – resulting in a mixed review the first time around.

This time around, however, the experience was spectacular. The service marked one of those rare firsts – in Merida, anyway – and was probably the best the Critic has had to date, with the exception of the lunch had approximately 5 hours earlier which will be written about shortly.

Attention to every detail, attentive and non-intrusive, the waiters looking after the table were very professional indeed. Again, the owner stopped by to say hello and make sure that the table was well-looked after.

The food was glorious, in particular the fried octopus chicharra, the duck salad and the enormously fat and meaty pork rack had by the Critic. Everyone commented on how delicious their food was. Accompanied by Pellegrino sparkling water, a few fruit (lychee and apple) martinis and some choice red wine, the evening was pretty well a flawless dining experience.

The table was indoors and so the Critic was unable to confirm or not the presence of a cleaning lady in the bathrooms doing her thing (as commented on during the last visit).