New Discoveries: Polanco

Those Proustian madeleines...

88 Newton, Polanco
Tel. 5545 7476
Open Monday – Saturday: 2pm – 11:30pm
The self-proclaimed “Contemporary American” restaurant Jaso is really Mexico’s answer to the Ferran Adrià / El Bullí mania that has turned the culinary world upside down in recent years. Chef Jared Reardon (formerly of New York’s Bouley and Daniel) and his wife, master pastry chef Sonia Arias, have created a superb gastronomic temple, featuring local, seasonal and organic raw materials. Foams, vegetable and fruit reductions and other already well-worn standards of “molecular gastronomy” are used intelligently and discreetly here. Oriental influences are evident, but one does not get the impression of “Asian-fusion” for the sake of trendiness.
An ameuse-bouche “cappuccino” of almond scented with mint, was served in a martini glass, with little cubes of beet jello waiting as a surprise at the bottom. The confit of baby octopus, served on a bed of piquant eggplant puree, was tender and flavorful. The succulent lechón (suckling pig) was beautifully complimented by a beet reduction sauce. A second complimentary appetizer of grilled skate was highlighted by tiny diced pineapple and the brown sauce traditionally served with Japanese eel--a simple and beautiful treat. Sea-bass with puree of wild mushrooms was an odd, but successful combination. Chocolate brioche topped with a crispy orange cookie lid was as rich as it sounded and looked. Piping hot madeleines added a Proustian reflection on all things good, present and past. Presentation is simple – no food architecture, thank goodness – and service is expertly knowledgeable and discreet. The décor is modern and sleek without being cold. Au courant, hip and smart, Jaso is one of the city’s best restaurants.

Presidente Masaryk 407, Polanco
Tel. 5282 2064
Young chefs Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza, formerly of Tezka and trained in Arzak, a temple of Gastronomy in Northern Spain, have opened an elegant spot called Biko, which means “couple or “duo” in Euskara, the language of Basque Spain. It features two menus, one traditional and the other "evolutionary" i.e. more creative. All the dishes we have sampled are fresh and subtly flavored; recent standouts were: alcachofas con almejas, the Basque classic reinterpreted: a tender artichoke heart was wrapped in a lightly spiced batter and nestled in a fresh clam shell- the reduced broth made me want to lick the plate. Also good were the traditional pimientos piquillos rellenos de bacalao, whose balance of sweet and salty was nearly perfect, a creative caldo de guisantes trufado y callo de hacha a light pea soup perfumed with truffle oil and host to several succulent scallops swathed in cloaks of thinly cut mushroom, and the escolar verde apio, a grilled white fish in a simple sauce of reduced poultry stock with a hint of celery. Less successful was a lamb with a “toque Oriental” whose un-integrated shaving of cilantro seeds did not add the intended Asian touch to the rather bland piece of meat. The service is attentive and gracious, wine list extensive and reasonable, with many unusual (for Mexico) Spanish wines listed. The tasting menu, at around $60 US or $110 with “maridaje” of wines, is highly recommended.
Hegel 406, Polanco
Tel. 5255 0612, 0912
Metro Polanco
Open Monday – Saturday 2PM-2AM, Sunday 1:30-5PM

D.O. is short for denominacion de origen, the Spanish designation for distinctive regional foods.The menu, designed by master Basque chefs Pablo San Román and Bruno Oteiza, formerly of Tezka, is based on Spanish classics, concentrating on the Pais Vasco or Basque country: starters, (which can also be ordered as tapas, include rabo de toro, (a stew of ox-tail), croquetas , piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, and a good selection of Spanish hams. Main courses include many dishes from regional Spanish menus: Kokotxas con gulas (cod cheeks with eels, a Basque classic), chipirones en su Tinta (small squids in their own ink), conejo confitado en cava (from Catalonia) and chuleton (a big juicy steak popular in Castile), and an excellent solomillo (like filet mignon). The front dining room is open and sunny, inside it is darker and intimate, more reminiscent of a typical Spanish venue.

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