I arrive at Quintonil a little early at 12.53pm and a lovely little Spanish lady tells me they don’t open till one, my Spanish is definitely getting better as I understood that in Spanish! So, I wait outside with some other people who also have a reservation.
Promptly on 1pm they open the door and are absolutely ready to go, all waiters standing by their stations and warmly greeting me as I walk in. I’m quickly offered water as per usual, then a glass of something stronger, I opt for the Mexican Sauvignon Blanc. The bar is again in front of me with the kitchen out the back.
Immediately I’m introduced to both my waiters and initially think it’s an all-male team, however, am soon corrected. They have a mix of both genders and I really like this sign outside their front door. There’s a cute round box on the table, what is it for? I assume tacos, however, have to wait to find out.
Soon after I’m presented with my menu (slightly different from the one online because we’re now in April and it’s the first day of April they are open). The waiter recommends the tasting menu which takes you around Mexico and showcases Jorge Vallejo’s talent. The wine match includes Mezcal, Sake and other varieties. He recommends this since it’s my first time here.
The Mexican Sauvignon Blanc is lighter than what I’m used to at home in New Zealand and less acidic but to be honest I prefer it that way and actually quite like it. A spoon gets added to my table and I fall in love with their cutlery. It’s almost rose gold like in appearance and quite spectacular, spoiler alert all of their cutlery is like this, epic.
The beautiful flower painting on the wall is embroidered on all of the waiters’ aprons which gives a beautiful synergy. Again, I notice that most of the visitors are international and the staff speak exceptional English, more so than Pujol. I’m going to do my best not to compare this one to Pujol. However, when the chef Jorge Vallejo is a protégée of Pujol’s Enrique Olvera it’s hard not to!
I hear a bell come from the kitchen and the waiters all come running, it is the first course. I’m offered snacks of tortillas, a black bean dip, salsa and something I’m warned is very spicy. Thank goodness she warned me! The rest are soft and warm and for once I’m not feeling overwhelmed by corn. It’s a simple but good starter and I enjoyed it as the beginning of my tasting menu. It wasn’t even on the menu!
The first official dish from the tasting menu is the Iced mango ceviche powder. Oh my, that’s good, it is cold and tantalizes your taste buds. The salt, the sweet, the cold. Ah-may-zing!
To begin the next course, I’m given a mezcal cocktail that includes avocado, coriander and a number of other delicious items. As my waiter explains it to me I also get a bit of a history lesson on tequila and mezcal. This one is from the south. I’m then served a cactus salad to be enjoyed with the cocktail. It’s a different flavour to what I’ve ever experienced but I like it. It’s fresh and sophisticated. When I thought of coming to Mexico this is what I wanted to experience! It’s sweet and salty, bitter and nice all in one. At this point I was almost licking the bowl it was so good.
Next up is a Croatian wine with a citrus lime and orange flavour, to be served with the crab tostada, with lime, radish and ‘chile habanero’ mayonnaise. Oh, my! The spices, the wetness of the crab mixed with the crunchiness of the tostada, the lime. The flavour profiles here are so on point it’s mesmerizing. With the different dishes from around Mexico and the awesome staff, I also feel like I’m learning at the same time!
By this time, I know I’m in for a treat and just hope that they follow through. The wine pairings just enhance the flavour. My charred avocado tartare, “escamoles” and herb chips are out of this world, and I’m not the biggest avocado fan! The richness, the freshness and at the same time the warm and smoky flavours are something dreams are made of. Before this course was served I had asked about the bathroom, distracted by food and wine I promptly forgot however as soon as my course was done one of my wonderful waiters showed me the way. Impressive attention to detail!
I’m told my next wine is the world’s best Orange wine, rather fitting I think! Upon tasting I’d describe it as a dry port. Again, I notice the staff working awesomely together with even the sommelier helping serve dishes! The service is nice, not imposing but friendly and genuine. The orange wine is to go with the “Tumbada” rice with abalone. The rice on its own is ok however once you combine it with the abalone you’re transported to another world. Then add the orange wine and you’re in heaven! The tingle you get in your mouth from the chilli to the sourness of the tomato in the rice is just everything. Amazing.
Beer is my next “wine” match and it’s apparently a less hoppy beer than most. It’s meant to match my next course “From las chinampas” perfectly and you know what, it does. Chinampas is a region of Mexico and the dish is this amazing salad. I don’t know what they did with the peas, well they look like peas anyway, but they explode in your mouth into a flavour sensation.
I notice the waiters checking the glasses before they serve them to make sure they don’t have any marks, they even turn some back because they’re not good enough. By 2.30pm the place is full but incredibly well managed!
For my next course I’m served a red wine to go with my fish, interesting choice, however, my sommelier tells me it will be OK. At first, I’m not convinced by the flavours, then I combine them all and am completely surprised at how well it works and the greatness of the flavour! At Pujol it felt like they were rushing and just wanted to get you out of there as quick as possible at Quintonil it didn’t matter if there was a bit of a wait between courses because you knew it would be worth it.
I’m on to a Chilean wine next, like a pinot noir but different. This is served with a sweetbread taco that has the flavours of sweet, sour, umami, and everything in between. It almost had a Japanese teriyaki flavour with a Mexican twist. It’s like there’s a magician working in the kitchen to make sure you’re surprised with every single course!
Following the Chilean wine, I’m treated to a Mexican wine from California. This is served with the Pork in “chile pasado” with potatoes and apple infused in chile. The sauce is like a mole without the cocoa and sour cheese. The thickness of the pork, the spiciness of the mole and sweetness of the apple melt in your mouth amazingly.
The cactus sorbet is next and is exactly what I needed after the slight heat from the pork. The infused salt delighted me to no end. I always like tequila and salt so this was always going to be a winner for me!
The first dessert comes out and is smoking! It’s like molecular gastronomy, mandarin, chocolate sorbet and all sorts, it’s an amazing dessert crumbled into a frozen delight. Is there honeycomb in there? I don’t know but it’s delicious all the same! And then while eating said dessert I find a meringue-like texture in the middle and absolutely melt!
For my final dish, I’m served “Sweet milpa”, green bean ice cream, corn pudding and candied zucchini blossoms. This is served with a sweet rose sake that I didn’t personally care for, perhaps I’d been too spoilt with the other dishes. I could see where they were trying to go with the dish however it didn’t follow well for me. Doesn’t it look gorgeous though? And I thoroughly enjoyed smashing the top like I was instructed to!
Would I go back? In a heartbeat! The best dining experience I’ve had in a long time! Next up Mirazur!