Tuesday, March 4, 2014

MeroToro: Bringing Baja to Mexico City

Why would one eat Baja seafood in Mexico City? Why, because the chef is Jair Tellez, of course! His outpost in the Condesa neighborhood, MeroToro, has brought Jair Tellez to the top of the culinary scene in Mexico City, and I got to experience it first hand when I tagged along to Mexico City with Street Gourmet LA.

I was extra lucky because we had so many sea urchin dishes that night! We started with this beautiful dish of Baja uni and barnacles with uni consommé, radish, and cherry tomatoes

Served with a light tostada as a vehicle.
Even though Baja sea urchin is only on the second tier in quality, Chef Tellez wanted to promote domestic ingredients and prepares it such that it melds the flavors of Baja seafood beautifully.

Next: more Baja sea urchin w cucumber
We were joined at dinner by Cecilia Rios from La Niña de Mezcal, who brought a couple of bottles of her amazing mezcal. The Espadin mezcal is a twice distilled spirit made of Espadin agave, twice distilled with the aim to make something approachable. They triple distill this to make the Pechuga, which goes into pot with a lot of fruits, cinnamon, clove. On top of this they hang raw turkey breast (our dinner was on Thanksgiving day so it was very appropriate!)
As it ferments, steam comes out and cooks the turkey. The turkey fat drops into the mezcal as the vapor goes into the turkey. This is called the Pechuga method, and is meant to give the mezcal some balance. The Pechuga is full bodied and had lots of spice and fruits in the flavor - "like Christmas", as someone puts it.

OK, more food. Pulpo, potatoes, housemade blood sausage, egg yolk
How many restaurants in Los Angeles are daring enough to top off an octopus dish with crumbs of blood sausage?

Braised beef tongue in its own juice
The beef tongue is so tender and juicy, and the broth also reminded me of the beef tongue I grew up eating and loved so much in Indonesia. 

Cured mackerel with cucumber, ceviche sauce, avocado
Fresh mackerel, and the sauce was flavorful but light enough to not overpower the fish.

Baja sea urchin with corn and cucumber, topped with chicarron
Yay, more uni! I liked the creative combination in this dish. The sweet corn and the crispy, salty chicharron contrasts the uni quite well.

Tuna breast and lentils
I'm not one to usually order tuna off the menu, but I loved the nice smoky and charred flavor of this one, and the tuna is also very tender.

Mahi mahi (dorado) sashimi
Pork cheek topped with poached egg with lentils underneath
The table was having a blast taking a video of the egg jiggling ...

Bone marrow risotto
So rich in flavor and texture. I mean, how can you say no to bone marrow?

We finished off dinner with a little cup of Jamaica granisado followed by desserts of Pastel de almendra (almonds) and tapioca.

Jair Tellez
MeroToro is a very apt name for Chef Tellez' establishments and he excels in both the seafood and the meat dishes. Its rather casual, open-air dining room understates the sophisticated and bold cuisine from Chef Jair Tellez. I certainly didn't have enough time to try all the higher end restaurants in Mexico City, but MeroToro was one of the most memorable meals I had there.


Avenida Amsterdam 204
Hipódromo, Cuauhtémoc, 06140
Mexico City DF, Mexico
+52 55 5564 7799


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