Tag Archives: nectar

Casual Restaurant Critic at La Piola

It came as news to the Critic that Piola was a chain or franchise restaurant. Having tried the food at their Cancun location below the Ibis hotel and absolutely loving it, the Critic was happy to learn they were opening a new restaurant in Merida and although it has taken a while, he finally got around to trying the place here.

Located in one of the 21 or so plazas that stretch along the street from the “pozito” glorieta to the City Center exit at the Periférico, Piola sits next to an outdoor furniture place and a new Starbucks. Also in that plaza is the newly re-opened (this week) Nectar which has been the subject of many a review in the past, mostly favorable. The Critic popped in to check out the menu and it looks promising and not overly expensive. The waiter informed the Critic that it wouldn’t be possible to eat there that night, however, as the entire place was reserved. Probably for chef Roberto Solis’ family and friends; after all it was his father who built the new plaza that his restaurant is now located in. But the Critic digresses.

Piola has a great outdoor seating area right up front where you can smoke and drink and feel like you are anywhere in the world, what with the trees overhead poking between the exposed metal beams of the little plaza. It’s also a great place to watch people parking, always a fun activity here in the formerly white city. The Critic ordered a glass of (over-chilled as is the norm here) Merlot which tasted fine, probably because it was so cold. The house will set out a bruschetta for you to keep you from gnawing the furniture while you get your order to the kitchen via some friendly and attentive wait staff, mostly male.

Yummy pizza!

Yummy pizza!

The Critic ordered the Santa Fe pizza with an order of prosciutto thrown in for some extra sodium and the verdict is: a perfect pizza. Thin, wood fired oven crust, with a few fire-charred bits here and there, scrumptious multi-cheese, tomato and olive toppings and some quality ham on top. Absolutely heavenly and now, there is no more reason to make the trek to Rafaello’s downtown on 60 at 49 with it’s indifferent service. Their pizza comes in two sizes: a small version for yourself and perhaps a weight-conscious date, or a larger table top version that could comfortably satisfy 3-4 people, as long as they are not voracious teens.

Good service, fantastic pizza and a lovely little location. Don’t miss it.

Their website is: http://www.piola.it/index.php?page=show-local&menu_number=3&lang=es&id=67


New Restaurant Ku’uk Muscles in on the High End of Merida’s Restaurant Scene

Picture this: A cool, subdued and yet warmly lit environment, sparsely furnished and discretely lit. Innovative, creative, strikingly beautiful dishes presented before you in a dazzling succession of colors and flavors (and sensory experiences) that amaze, tantalize and delight your senses. Three and a half hours of celebrating food, glorious food, in ways you could not have imagined, enjoying a chef’s menu where each magical creation leaves you gasping and wondering “what can possibly be next?” or “how did they do that!”

A newcomer to the Merida restaurant scene, definitely at the higher end of the spectrum and not for the quantity-conscious (the “es mucho, so it must be good” crowd) has arrived in the form of Ku’uk and this may just be a valid a reason to come to Merida as the city’s colonial mansions and Mayan relics.

Ku’uk is not an abomination of the English ‘cook’ but rather the Mayan term for sprouts or shoots, as in all things organic that start with a sprout from a seed, and the concept is all molecular gastronomy featuring local ingredients presented to you in ways your abuela never dreamed of (more on molecular gastronomy here). In addition to the restaurant itself, Ku’uk will feature a market where one can purchase delicacies and also a culinary workshop featuring classes for food aficionados. There is an herb garden out back and the entire place is visitable, so do make sure you get the full tour. The kitchen is equipped with the usual grills, ovens and mixers, but also with equipment straight out of a mad scientists laboratory, from nitrogen-based fast-freezing to humidity extractors that remove all water from foods leaving only intensely flavored concentrated flakes to other strange (and most definitely expensive) pieces of equipment that help chef Mario Espinosa and his team perform their magic. The wine “cellar” is a spectacular room that can be reserved for a special dinner and must be seen to be appreciated.

The Critic won’t go into the hows, whys, or pros and cons of molecular cooking and will instead stick to a short review of the experience:

Breathtakingly sublime.

There, that was it.

Better Half and the Critic enjoyed 3 and a half hours of culinary bliss, enjoying the chef’s menu which featured a total of 14 dishes, each more spectacular than its predecessor. The idea was to go through the different dishes but the Critic thinks you will be better served trying them yourself and coming to your own conclusions. Besides the full tasting menu, there is a shorter menu of about 7-8 dishes and there are also some items available a la carte. The photos (below) will speak for themselves.

Service is formal, a little stiff and there is some confidence lacking when presenting dishes but if you are as enthusiastic about the food as Better Half and the Critic were, they warm right up and the experience from the service perspective becomes more fluid and relaxed and one can even elicit a smile from some of the servers, who are mostly young foodie students.

The restaurant is currently in “soft opening” mode, so you can go, and avoid any semblance of a crowd and help them get on their feet before the official presentation to society at the end of the month.

Definitely put Ku’uk on your restaurant “to-die-and-go-to-foodie-heaven-at” list!

The Ku’uk website is here for more info on reservations and location. Or call  999-315-5825

Enjoy the photos!