Quintonil is a long restaurant with efficient and friendly service with mixed amounts of English. In the modern setting tables are wooden without clothes and there is bench seating along the walls. it is a more casual atmosphere. Kitchen staff bring out the plates and offer explanations of the dishes. They all spoke excellent English. They offer a tasting menu as well as a la carte options. They also have pairings available for the tasting. We chose the tasting menu with our own bottle of wine, but started with a house cocktail of mezcal, orange juice and herbs.
Traveling and eating 2 big meals in a day means that you really need to moderate your intake and not finish all the courses in many menus. Often that is hard when the food is so good but for many of the courses here this was not a problem at all, as the dishes were dull or the ingredients just didn’t work together. They served one amuse bouche which was a warm orange foam that covered a thick orange paste on the bottom. I thought the waiter called it tangerine, my husband heard carrot but either way it was sweet and fruity with a little added crunch from the seeds on the top. It It may have been the best part of the meal – really tasty. But start strong, right? They also brought beans, hot sauce and warm tortillas at this time.
The cactus in the first course was tender but the broth surrounding it was a tad salty and tart. The dish came off earthy and a prominent flavor was of cilantro. The beet root added a little crunch but overall this was just okay.
Beetroot was featured in the second course also. The explanation of the dish was that in order to cut down on kitchen waste they made containers from their vegetable compost to encase the beet and tuna during cooking. It came out in a large pot and the stuff inside was steaming. After opening the compost husks the waiter spooned the inside on the prepared plates. The weird thing here was that the inside components were cold not hot. It was also served with a spinach drink, that was fairly bad. It was a major presentation effort but the course left me as cold as the food.
Charred avocado was served next with bits of charred material on top. It was mixed with corn and one jalapeño slice, which did give that bite a nice zip. Otherwise the smokiness overwhelmed the taste of the avocado and the rest of the dish.
The Jerusalem artichoke tamal was on top of some vegetables and topped with pumpkin seeds and fried chard leaves. The tamal had a pretty mild corn taste but its accompanying mole was good. The flavor of the Jerusalem artichoke did not come through and the dish should have been much tastier.
The Mexican winter tomatoes were covered with a bunch of stuff that really distracted from the taste of the tart tomatoes. They were topped with grasshopper dust that gave them a fragrance of straw which permeated the dish. Served in a clam sauce which was also tart the dish had a complexity to it but it just didn’t work for me.
The Catch of the Day was a charcoaled trout served with cuitlacoche or corn fungus. They brought out an entire ear of it to demonstrate prior to serving and you received a piece of it on your plate as well as it being smeared on the plate. The sauce contained trout roe which gave it a nice tart contrast to the sweet, earthy corn. The ingredients worked well together in this dish and the flavors really sang.
The braised pork was the last savory and it was served with tomatoes, blue corn, mixed winter greens and hot circles of raw onion. Unfortunately the pork was as dry as cardboard, the sauce very tart and the lettuces didn’t add a thing to it. This looked pretty, but that was it.
The palate cleanser was cactus sorbet which was nice, tart, cool and refreshing. The little darks dots on top were bits of salt that really accented the pure cactus taste.
The aged Ramonetti cheese was lost amidst the dry cake. The mandarin was a sweet influence to contrast with the tart lemony ice cream. It didn’t work.
The final sweet was a frozen mousse of plantains which was cool but had not a strong flavor in it.