5/3/13

Close to home: Maximo Bistrot Local



Note: The fine folks at Maximo have been recently caught in the vortex of a socioeconomic media fest, shedding light on ugly aspects of Mexican society: corruption and classism. See: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/world/americas/restaurant-http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/world/americas/restaurant-patrons-behavior-is-panned.html?ref=restaurantspatrons-behavior-is-panned.html?ref=restaurants
Here, I pay homage to this fine venue by republishing my review of last year.-
I love to criticize. I was raised in New York after all, where criticism is an art form. But Máximo Bistrot Local, a fine new venue for creative cuisine in the constantly up-and-coming Colonia Roma, defies even me to find fault.

Cool and chic Máximo replaces a dowdy medical supply store; where wheelchairs and artificial limbs were once sold you can find the best brandade de morue this side of the Seine. The space, airy and sunny during the day, warm and cozy at night, has been smartly and discreetly given new life. Windows and rooms, once blocked up, were opened, those lovely old tile floors, until not so long ago routinely torn out by tasteless renovators, have been replaced. Simple but comfortable wooden bistro chairs and tables are given room to breathe, both inside and out on the street. Adornment is minimal. Ambient music is mercifully turned low. It’s a space you’re happy to spend some time in. The kitchen is open to view—and the food coming out of that kitchen is worthy of hyperbole.



Chef Eduardo García, formerly of the esteemed Pujol, also worked at Manhattan’s star-strewn Le Bernardín, that high-falutin´temple of good fish. He has brought all of his gastronomic skills to his own place, along with his wife, the affable Gabriela. The only thing they left behind is pretension. The restaurant’s publicity claims that ‘materia prima’ is local and organic, if possible. The chef visits our spectacular markets daily, choosing what looks best,
then adroitly improvising a new menu each day.


The dishes are French and Italian in theory, Spanish in their simple elaboration, all with soulful respect for Mexican tradition. Food looks like food, not art.
The menu wisely sticks to five or six appetizers and the same number of ‘platos fuertes’.

A recent starter was so simply labeled it almost escaped my notice. ‘Sopa de raiz de apio y chicharro’ makes use of that divine root so common in France and so elusive here: celerie rave (celeriac in English). A simple, light cream of fresh pea, green as a Provençal field in spring, is perfumed with a refined essence of celery. The color and fragrance would have pleased Mme. Chanel. Esparragos y holandesa are not toyed with, just done correctly. They looked like the end result of an episode of The French Chef.

Another example: perfectly grilled octopus, tender as a baby’s thigh (must be) is complimented by a drizzle of ‘guajillo emulsion’. A couple of days later this combination had morphed into a brick-red creamy reduced chili sauce and a generous puddle of sautéed huitlacoche – essentially Mexican.
The tuna arrived seared on the top and sushi-pink in the middle, cloaked in a robe of red Mediterranean peperonata. Likewise, ‘filete de cerdo’ is left blushing and juicy in the center, as pork should be unless you’re doing carnitas. Smart.

Desserts are safely relegated to such Parisian bistro classics as a crackly crème bruleé or a rich pot de crème de chocolate. Richer still was a cheesecake of goat cheese, the likes of which I’ve seen neither in Paris, New York nor el DF.

The wine list is carefully chosen, featuring some unusual Mexican vintages—and there’s a good range of prices. Dinner with a glass of wine hovers around $300 pesos per person. A prix fixe comida is offered on weekdays for $150 pesos (ask if you don't see it on the menu).
After an excellent repast on a recent sun-drenched Sunday, my astute dining companion, The French Lady, recalled her favorite bistro in Paris, L’Ebauchoir. Wrinkling her nose in typical Parisian fashion, she agreed to be quoted. “This place reminds me of it.” she said. “It is very, very good!”

She needn’t say more. Nor will I.

Maximo Bistrot Local
Tonalá 133, corner of Zacatecas, (3 blocks south of
Av. Alvaro Obregón) Colonia Roma
Tel. 5264 4291
Open Tuesday – Saturday : 1 -11:00 pm,
Sunday, 11:00 am-7:00 pm
closed Monday


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14 comments:

  1. "Sounds" delicious!
    Thank you and Happy New Year!

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  2. The food there is good. Really good.

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  3. I was hoping that you would review this restaurant. We had a magnificent meal there last Friday night and everyone was blissfully satiated.

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  4. I was a long-time customer at the medical supply store (for the cigars they sold, not the artificial limbs), but as long as there has to be yet another restaurant in the neighborhood, this one is probably the best yet. Excellent food, not expensive, and most appreciated, the genuinely unpretentious attention from the kind hostess and wait staff. Thanks for the tip on this wonderful addition to the neighborhood's restaurant community.

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  5. Agree entirely. The exquisite vegetarian main dish options are definitely worth mentioning too. Gourmet vegetarian food is hard to find in Mexico City (and non existent in Paris)! The filete de cerdo comes from organic pigs in Yucatan, by the way, and many of the lesser known vegetables in Mexico (such as sprouting broccoli) from Texcoco. Lets hope this stays a neighbourhood bistro sans valet parking, pretentiousness, and the looking classes!

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  6. De ya anotado en mi lista de restos a visitar en nuestras próximas vacaciones en México éste verano. Gracias como siempre Nick por descubrirnos éstas joyas. Tal vez, podamos conocernos y tomar un café en tu lugar favorito cuando este en México?. abrazos

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  7. Joaquin de la TorreFebruary 15, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Nicholas, fui hoy a Máximo (estoy por 2 semanas en México). Excelente recomendación. Muchas gracias!!!
    Te extrañamos en Bangkok. Un abrazo

    Joaquín

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  8. I am also a NEW YORKER.. born and bred and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED MAXIMO!
    We went for Valentine's Day and it was AMAZING, we had the tasting menu. Wonderful service and super high end food and wine! The chef served our food and explained each course, was very special.
    4 stars

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  9. I really like this place, the venue and the food are great in flavor. But the last two times I went for dinner I got sick right after leaving the place. I guess they are having some trouble adjusting to the success. I think it's a great place with a good concept. I just hope they have what it takes to keep the good quality.

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  10. Why eat anywhere else in Mexico City when you can go to Maximo Bistrot. THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Frank and James

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  11. Another new Yorker here. Best meal in DF. My s.o. Wasn't impressed by his salmon with mole but my black cod with miso was excellente. Same for the arugula salad and asparagus starters. Thanks for the blog and the rec

    Marlene

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  12. Thanks for the great find. I was there this past Friday and loved the food, the service and the relaxed atmosphere. The Hamachi appetizer, and black cod in Miso were great. The cheese cake was delish! I finished with a great Mexican artisan stout call Poe!

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  13. Per your advice, we sought out Maximo two Sundays ago. The two salads offered were lightly dressed and perfect. The duck as juicy and tasty as McGlynn's on Long Island [ Old-old timers might remember!].The Gnocci - Roma! The liquido Chocolat to die for. We also tried the blanco, reposado and anejo Tequila - supplied by Jean from Cuatro Copas. Best Meal in Mexico!

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