Tag Archives: new restaurants in Merida

El Rincon Oaxaqueño

Last night the Casual Restaurant Critic and his ever-accomodating BetterHalf had a most amazingly delicious meal at El Rincon Oaxaqueño, which means a little corner of Oaxaca. If you are not familiar with Oaxaca, a state with great handcrafts, fantastic scenery and some Mexicos’ best cuisine, you need to get out more.

The speciality of Oaxaca, like Puebla, is its mole. Pronounced MOHL-ay, this is a rich, complicated and ingredient-packed sauce made from everything and anything, from toasted chiles and spices to rich dark Mexican chocolate. It is usually served cooked with chicken or pork and accompanied by white rice.

The Critic and his BetterHalf were the only people in the restaurant near about 5 PM when they normally close on Sundays, but the people were gracious enough to not only serve some great food, but provide plenty of information about the restaurant and Oaxacan food in general. The initial impression did not, as the word implies, impress, as a rather unkempt young man was at the door and essentially indicated that any table was fine and left some menus, but then a real waiter (from Mexico City as it turned out) came along and all was well. Great service from this young man who was friendly, gracious and seemed quite proud of the menu and the kitchen.

A platter for two was ordered, which featured grilled cecina (pork), beef, chorizo, melted quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese) and of course chapulines aka grasshoppers. Yes, grasshoppers, along with ant eggs (not sampled on this occasion) are considered delicacies and are the cutest little crunchy things that you toss into your mouth like popcorn or stuff into one of their fantastic hand made corn tortillas which in turn are much larger than the Yucatecan version and even taste a little different. The platter comes with 3 tlacoyas (?) which are like Mexico City style sopes, with beans and more quesillo on top.

Also sampled was their black mole, which in this case came with chicken and was exquisite. Before all that, two samples of mole arrived at the table; the almendrado which to the Critic seemed a little on the bland side, and the colorado (reddish brown in color) which was the Critics favorite: spicy, thick and full of all kinds of delicious flavors. These little samples are accompanied by corn tostaditas for dipping into the tiny pots.

All in all, a great dinner in a restaurant reminiscent of someones home (which evidently this is, given that there were some family members watching TV in a room, off the restaurants dining areas.

Enjoy the photos.

Local 3 – Fresh, New Restaurant in Merida

Local 3 is an ambitious new restaurant, run by the people from COVI, who sell a great assortment of wines and liquors and who are a go-to source when looking for something beyond the scope of the wine selection at Sam’s Club and Costco; and Culinaria, the new cooking school here in sunny Merida.

The Critic and group of friends went the other night based on a recommendation by the Critics BetterHalf, who had had lunch there and raved about the delicious offerings, and the food, to be sure, was impressive. There was a salmon ceviche, served in little cubes piled in a cylinder and doused with what seemed to be a light cream or yogurt. Not sure if that is a ceviche purists dream, but it was good and innovative in its presentation. The tuna tartar was served the same way and the flavor of the tuna was excellent and hard to stop eating once the Critic had a taste. Last on the list of appetizers was an octopus carpaccio style, thinly sliced and lightly seasoned with lime. Refreshing but just a tad sparse for sharing among 6 persons, even with the other two appies on the table.

Bread, in the form of croissant-like rolls and bread sticks, brought earlier to the table was homemade and served with a creamed butter, also quite good.

For the main course, there was an arrachera steak, which was apparently very good as it disappeared before the Critic could finagle a bite to try. There was a goat cheese foccacia also, which, although advertised as warm, unfortunately arrived quite cold (¡está helado!) as the Yucatecan who ordered it, put it) and was sent back. It returned warm, perhaps heated in a microwave judging from the inconsistent temperature throughout. The Critic sampled the Sea Bass, one of the day’s specials which was excellent; as was a strange concoction of seafood served in a small casserole dish and baked with choclo, a kind of creamed corn mixture which rendered the dish a little sweet but served as an interesting counterpoint to the savory seafood – shrimp and scallops – within.

There was no room for desserts.

The big problem on this occasion was the fact that the main dishes took over 45 minutes to arrive at the table, from when the appetizers were finished. This is a huge time lapse and by the time the dishes did make it to the table, the stomach was sending messages to the brain that with the appetizers and bread already ingested, it was full, thank you very much. Apparently, this delay was due to the fact that there was some filming or photography going on and dishes were being prepared for the shoot. Not a good plan, unless the other diners were informed of this and offered a round of drinks or some other form of compensation in exchange for being ‘extras’ in their promotional piece.

Service by Danae was very good; she was calmly professional and completely unflappable by some of the slight whining going on at the Critics table regarding the tardiness of the food.

The Critic recommends you try this restaurant, as it has some imaginative ideas on the menu, the room is comfortable (and cold, especially by the window facing Montejo) and if you are lucky enough to have Danae as your server, you will be very pleased indeed. Just look out for a professional photo session first.