Polanco . Mexico City
- Ambience 90%
- Service 100%
- Food (Execution) 100%
- Creativity 80%
- Value 80%
Telephone: +52 55 5280 1660
Restaurant Type: Upscale Casual
Cuisine: Gourmet Mexican Price: $$$$ Hours: Mon-Sat 1 pm to 5 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm[/types] Sun Closed[/types] [/types]
Summary of Review
Restaurant Review for Quintonil
Quintonil is the much praised restaurant of Chef Jorge Vallejo. It’s located in the affluent neighborhood of Polanco on a quiet street about a block off the main drag in Polanco, Presidente Maseryk. The entry is humble and inconspicuous. There are two main dining areas, front and back, in a narrow space with probably no more than ten to twelve tables accommodating 40 to 50 diners.
There is minimalist décor with a wall of live green plants covering the top half of the back wall. A few carefully chosen pieces of art on one or two of the walls. The left wall is covered in a natural light colored wood paneling.
Stark. But not overly so. The décor wasn’t as dramatic and impressive as what we saw at nearby Nobu or at J by José Andrés. But not quite as monochrome and boring as the décor at nearby Biko.
I think the menu can best be described at traditional Mexican gone gourmet. This is very similar to what we saw at Pujol. Except at Quintonil we weren’t forced into the chef’s conception of what we wanted and the cost was about half of what we paid at Pujol.
Plus, at Pujol you have to give up your important body parts and kiss the chef’s rear end to get a reservation. I’ll skip all the red tape for a nice and fairly easily obtainable evening out.
Here’s the scoop on the meal. For the appetizer I ordered the stone crab tostado with lime, radish and “chili habanero mayonnaise”. Cost: About US$10 (190 pesos) (That’s barely more than a Big Mac combo meal in Manhattan.) This was a big mound of crab meat and a corn tortilla fried until crisp, topped with paper-thin slices of radishes and other little goodies. Your supposed to take a spoonful of crabmeat, put it on the outside edge of the tostado and gobble that bite down, repeating the process until you’re chewing your fingers not the tostado. I did that until both the crispy tortilla and the crab meat were gone. Considering the pile of crab meat would have cost US$30 almost anywhere in the USA the tostado (although delicious) was irrelevant.
For the main course, I ordered the “Catch of the day with chili chipotle, squash and pineapple”. On this particular day the “catch of the day” was sea bass (“lubina”). Again, to put it into perspective. for what would cost about US$30 in a respectable restaurant in Manhattan, I was paying about US$20 (395 pesos) for at Quitonil. Sea bass, although creamy and luxuriously flaky in texture, has very little flavor. I thought the chipotle rub was a great way of ramping up the flavor of this dish. It has this deep and spicy exterior but this melt-in-your-mouth interior that made it a joy to bite into.
For dessert I had the “crema de mamey, galleta de pinole, helado de hueso de mamey”. Mamey sapote is fruit indigenous to Mexico and piñole is an indigenous grain in Mexico. I suppose the ingredients aren’t really important. It tasted great and even the little purple flower petals tasted good. I ate every last bit of this dessert.
To sum it up. A really nice and impressive meal in a restaurant with a very nice ambience. First class service. You’re not forced into an overpriced tasting menu. None of the red tape you have to subject yourself to at Pujol to get a table. Yet I’d say the three courses I had were on par with what I had at Pujol.
Quintonil … …
Yet another little gourmet bistro to review in Palermo Soho. Nice, simple décor. Nice and fairly efficient waitress. Perhaps a little difficult to get her attention. We were seated off in a back corner which was probably the worst seat in the house. It would have been nice to have been in the center of the restaurant, which has a simple, but pleasing décor. One immediate demerit earned for not changing the table linens. Our tablecloth was soiled and had obviously not been changed after the prior patrons had left.
Based on having a table with remnants of prior diners left behind, I had an uncomfortable feeling about what was about to unfold. We decided to skip the appetizers and go straight to the main course. One of the plates was a white salmon, skin removed, perfectly cooked, in a delicate butter and citrus sauce and accompanied by perfectly seasoned and grilled vegetables. This was a perfectly prepared dish.
I’ve been served a half-dozen or more Sorrentino or ravioli dishes stuffed with pumpkin filling recently. It seems as if every pasta cook in the city has torn that page from their cookbooks and taped it to the kitchen wall. But this one was slightly different. Bolder, deeper flavors. Fresh pasta. A bit firm for my liking. But I always say that. And this pasta was served in a sage butter sauce that was just delicious.
These cooks know their stuff. Very, very well executed dishes, all quite reasonably priced in a range from about US$12 to $16 (ARS$150 to $200).
With this good showing on the entrees we just had to try a dessert. We opted for the tiramisu. It has the lightest and fluffiest custard of any version we’ve tasted in Buenos Aires. Everything was perfectly balanced. Just a hint of the coffee. A rich vanilla custard and the perfect dusting of cocoa on top.
What I thought was going to be a let-down turned out to be a very pleasant experience. Ambiance was only slightly above average and service was also less than it could have been. But the guys in the kitchen scored big. The final verdict finds Fermo Giacomino earning a top spot among the best restaurants in Palermo Soho.