The Purepecha Room is a small room for about 14 in the back of Revolver Taco Lounge. Opened in April 2017 it is run by Chef Regino Rojas who was a 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalist. It is meant to resemble his mother’s kitchen and recipes he ate growing up. Indeed, his mother, Juanita Rojas, is in the kitchen still helping as is his aunt and I understand his father was helping inside the kitchen. This is a family operation and it feels like that as you sit in the cozy room with dishes that feel like your grandmothers and the chef cooking close enough you really feel like you’re in his dining room. A totally different ambiance than in the noisy, casual front Taco Lounge. They offer a tasting menu only and there is no printed menu, however you can let them know about allergies. Service is efficient, friendly and paced on the quicker end of the continuum.
They have 2 seatings in an evening and we were in the earlier one that was running about 40 minutes late. It would have been disturbing except for the Paloma cocktail, fixed by Victor who would also be our waiter in the back room. The drink was a fun combination of tequila, lime, grapefruit, salt, orange and decorated with a tamarind coated straw.
We started with a sashimi grade founder that was served with smoked eggs, chilies, blue lava salt and a tangerine olive oil. It was really good. Something in it had a bit of crunch which gave a small textural contrast to the pleasant flavors.
Beef tartar with citrus oils and spices followed. The tartar was prepared ceviche style and was tender and tasty. It was served with a chip that seemed almost air-fried. It was a delicious addition to the perfectly seasoned bite.
Sopa Seca was a traditional Mexican casserole. In this case the dry ingredients (avocado, chicken, queso fresco, tortilla chips) came out first and then were covered with rich chicken broth. After the broth is added you stir it around to blend the ingredients. Some of the strips retained their crunch and the chicken stayed nicely moist. It was excellent.
Sofrito, a Spanish meat sauce, was served in a tortilla cavity. The picadillo meat was mixed with escargo, queso fresco and topped with a dried grasshopper. This dish had milder flavors but wonderful textures and was a good combination.
Mole was the next course and it started with a seasoned rice accented with raw banana bits. I really liked the way it blended with the rice. On top of the mole was a grilled piece of octopus, seeds, nuts and some greens infused with roasted peppers. Along with this were hot fresh corn tortillas (made by chef’s aunt) to eat with the dishes. It was a lovely combination with lots of flavors and textures.
A second mole was called red and no chocolate was used to sweeten it. It was a blend of toasted peppers and other ingredients that were topped with a slice of roasted Hudson Valley duck. The duck was cooked nicely rare and was tender. Some seeds on the top gave it another dimension of taste and texture. This mole was made by the chef’s mother.
Carne asada made with beef tenderloin was the last savory. It was served with a tamale made with no meat, tortilla made like a Tuscan pasta and a small quesadilla with squash blossom. The tamale was covered with a spicy sauce and some queso fresco and had really good flavor – one you kept wanting to come back and take one more bite of. The beef was quite tender and had a fairly spicy sauce, but the texture was a bit mealy for me. The “pasta” was infused with mint and quite nice. The quesadilla almost tasted like something you might have had in a Mexican restaurant but the tortilla was ultimately tender and it was stuffed with cheese.
Dessert was 3 items on one plate. One was a Mexican cheesecake that was made without cream cheese and instead used queso fresco and then was covered with cranberry sauce. It was heartier than the usual cheesecake and not as smooth but I really liked the cranberry sauce. Some pieces of cotija cheese (a hard cow’s milk cheese from Mexico) were in the middle of the plate. They were dry and had the fun crystals of an aged hard cheese. The last portion was a flan which was tasty.