Pujol

I was super excited about going to Pujol as I’m pretty sure it was the episode of Chef’s Table I was watching when I had my fever and decided to go on this crazy adventure. Plus, when you’ve watched something about a restaurant it’s always more exciting to go there.

I ordered my Uber to Pujol in the Uber app and got to a place which had their sign out the front door. Looked right so said muchas gracias to my driver and popped out. Thankfully a lovely young woman quickly jumped over to inform me that they’d moved around a year ago, there was a problem with the Uber app and gave the driver directions to the new place in Spanish. I vaguely remember seeing something about them moving! This was a lifesaver for me as my Spanish is not very good and I’m not quite sure what I would have done had she not been so wonderful. Thank you, random stranger!

You’d think being a World Top 50 restaurant with many international visitors they would a. contact Uber to get it sorted and b. perhaps give diners a warning somewhere in the booking process? Also, Pujol has a 15-minute grace period for diners, if I wasn’t early and the traffic wasn’t light for Easter week I easily could have missed my reservation.

Anyhow, I arrive at Pujol and immediately notice the security out the front door, I think this is a Mexico City thing and is designed to make you feel safe however it’s always a little disconcerting for me coming from New Zealand where our police officers don’t even carry guns. I’m quickly greeted warmly in my language of preference and taken to my table.

Champagne or tequila is offered straight away, I went with the champagne option. There’s an embossed menu on my table already and it felt a bit like Christmas waiting to open it. Interestingly the table next to me notice that the Spanish menu has the date in the Day/Month/Year format, however, the English version is in the Month/Day/Year format. There are six courses on the menu and for 2,3, 4 and 6 you get to choose what you’d like.

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As I’m still using my New Zealand sim I’m unable to get a data package for Mexico so at all times try to avoid using my roaming to reduce my phone bill. Unfortunately, Pujol didn’t have Wi-Fi. Although I suppose you don’t come to a World Top 50 restaurant to be on your phone the whole time!

It smells delicious in the restaurant and I watch as the street snacks come out for the other tables. I note they’re also using Zalto glasses. The kitchen is out the back with a bar making delicious looking cocktails in front of me. There are lots of staff however they’re not overly buzzing just standing back and friendly. Their English is good, and I notice the waiters all using trays to transport the food, very Mexican and an easy way to carry food.

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My street snacks arrive with a bit of smoke coming out of the pumpkin like bowl the baby corn was smoked in. First is a gordita served with avocado, tomato and an almost butter looking element. Distracted with all that was around me I failed to get a picture of this one. It was a very corn like flavour with the gordita, however, was delicious and had an awesome texture.

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Second was the baby corn with their house-made mayo combining coffee, spices and everything nice. It has a good but not too overwhelming kick and goes really well with the baby corn. The service was quick but not too efficient, it feels like the menu is designed to be enjoyed. You also hear some occasional fun shouting from the kitchen!

Next up I’d chosen the chayote squash slices, pico de callo. This was such a pretty dish. The squash is cooked like a ceviche and the flavors all surprised and delighted your palate. I notice I wasn’t offered a wine match or list however I didn’t ask and was happy sipping my champagne. The music is relaxed and elegant and it took two minutes to get my wine topped up!

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For course three I’d chosen the cauliflower, almond salsa macha, chile de arbol. This was served with freshly made warm tortillas in order to turn the cauliflower into a taco. Very on theme however tasted very corn based. The crunch and the texture were good however it wasn’t my favourite dish. The crunch reminded me a little of cornflakes.

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My fourth course I’d chosen the duck, black recado, nance, Ixil onions. It looks and sounds amazing, yet again served with tortillas in order to make tacos. The duck was a little dry as if it had just that little bit too long in the pan which made it a bit chewy. The puree was delicious and the flavours all worked really well together. If it wasn’t for the cooking of the duck this would have been the stand out dish for sure.

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I was so excited about the next course, mole madre 1,545 days aged, mole Nuevo. Served with warm corn tortillas layered with an hoja santa leaf. This is by far my favourite course. Both mole’s were delicious on their own and combined and with or without the torillas. I was even asked twice if I needed more tortillas! I like how the tortillas are served on a stone to keep them warm as well!

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After the mole, I’m offered a warm hand towel to clean my hands. This is followed by a palate cleanser with chilli before moving on to dessert. At this point, I noticed there was no sommelier and the staff didn’t all share their names with me. It’s always a nice touch to know who is serving you, especially if they standout so you can compliment them later.

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For my final chosen course, I had the roasted pineapple, molasses, cilantro. The pineapple had been roasted for 12 hours, there was a cilantro sorbet and a pineapple molasses. I’m told to mix all the flavours together and they work well but not amazing.

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Finally, I’m surprised to a churro for a happy ending as the waiter tells me. It is perfectly cooked, soft and crunchy and a wonderful way to end the tasting menu.

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After lunch, I’m invited to enjoy the courtyard where they have one of their three gardens that they get their produce from to relax. This was a nice way to finish off the afternoon and have another glass of wine. With my bill came a log of cacao, nice touch.

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Overall, I’m left feeling slightly underwhelmed, Pujol was good but not amazing and it is potentially overhyped. Would I go again? I wouldn’t fly all the way to Mexico for it, but it was worth experiencing. Can’t wait to see what I think of my next World Top 50, Quintonil, watch this space!

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