Eduardo (Lalo) García, chief cook and innovator at Máximo Bistrot Local in Colonia Roma Norte, Mexico City. Unlike many of the Distrito Federal's successful restaurant owners/chefs, Lalo has no culinary school background. He's a self-made man with many reasons to be proud of himself, but he's completely without pretension. Just about any time you dine at Máximo Bistrot, Lalo himself is in the kitchen.
Máximo Bistrot opened its doors in 2012 and almost immediately became a sensational success. After nearly 20 years of work in other heavy-hitting restaurants (at Le Bernadin in Atlanta and New York City and at Pujol in Mexico City, among others), Lalo García and his wife, Gabriela López, had finally opened the doors to their own domain.
While diners are still pondering their food orders, each table receives a portion of extraordinarily delicious berenjena ahumada (smokey eggplant purée) and individual servings of hot, crusty bread. It's just enough to whet your appetite and make you crave most of what's on the daily menu.
Just a few months after Máximo Bistrot had become the restaurant that every diner in Mexico City was buzzing about, the restaurant was suddenly in the news for another reason: you can read here how Lady PROFECO raised the roof with her father, head of a Mexican agency similar to the Better Business Bureau. Máximo Bistrot reopened to further social and gastronomical acclaim a mere few days after the incident.
Mezcal with a little orange juice (the glass rimmed with sal de gusano (sea salt ground with chile de árbol and maguey worm) adds to the pleasure of reading the menu, which changes daily.
Neither Lalo García nor Gabriela López seeks the limelight. Instead, the limelight has sought them and deservedly so. The restaurant has a well-rounded menu featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared in deliciously innovative dishes which both seduce and surprise the diner.
We chose several salads. This fresh green pyramid is composed of artichokes and arugula, with a roasted garlic vinaigrette.
Here, a salad of burrata, heirloom tomatoes, greens, and balsamic vinaigrette.
A very different salad: roast porcini mushrooms with thyme and caramelized onions.
My personal pick: a salad of roasted beets, avocado, and crème fraiche, with some scattered pepitas, freshly grated cheese, and lovely edible flowers. I could eat this fantastic salad every day without tiring of it.
Between the salads and our main dishes, we shared a plate of raviolis stuffed with requesón (a fresh cheese similar to ricotta) and served with nut butter.
We also shared this beautiful plate of atún toro (raw sushi-quality bluefin tuna) topped with a garlic vinaigrette, paper-thin radish slices, and individual slices of caramelized onion.
Four at table, we chose three different main dishes. Here, pierna de cordero (leg of lamb) with morel mushrooms and a squash purée.
Next: lechón confitado (suckling pig slow-braised in oil, the skin crisp and the flesh tender) with baked tomato sauce and mashed potato.
Two of us chose the flat iron steak with chanterelle mushrooms, puréed potatoes, and a veal reduction. Chanterelles grow wild in Oaxaca and Chiapas during Mexico's summer long rainy season.
With our meal, we drank this Montefiori Horizonte Cabernet Montepulciano, from Baja California. Full-bodied, smooth, and full-flavored, it combined perfectly with the various main dishes we chose.
How could we resist the ever-so-tempting dessert menu? We couldn't!
Two at our table chose the mil hojas (mille-feuille, or puff pastry--the literal meaning is thousand-layers) with fig conserve and a dollop of whipped cream.
Would you believe pineapple upside down cake? It's served with chopped fresh pineapple, chopped strawberries, a blackberry or two, a blueberry or two, and some edible fuschia flowers as the crowning touch. This dessert is absolutely rich and absolutely delicious. Our companion who ordered it said it was without question the best he had ever tasted.
My choice was a honey-vanilla panna cotta with a layer of sliced fresh strawberries and a scoop of delicately sweet cucumber ice cream, topped with finely diced fresh cucumber. The dessert was refreshing, multi-textured, and a perfect ending to the meal.
How many times in this report have I used the word 'perfect'? From the seating to the ever-attentive but non-obtrusive service; from the hot crusty bread (which re-appeared magically every time our bread plates emptied) and chilled water; from the first taste of eggplant to the last scrape of spoon on dessert plate, there was nothing that could have been improved. Every moment in the restaurant was professional, every portion of our meal was at its peak. The place was filled to capacity but never noisy; our table conversed easily. We kept a leisurely pace throughout our meal; no one rushed us to turn the table. It's clear that Máximo Bistrot will be one of Mexico Cooks!' first choices for special occasions.
Gabriela López and Eduardo García, spouses and partners in the most most delicious of restaurants: Máximo Bistrot Local. Photo courtesy Adriana Zehbrauskas, New York Times.
Máximo Bistrot Local
Calle Tonalá 133
Corner Calle Zacatecas
Colonia Roma Norte
Mexico City, Mexico
Reservations a must; call at least two weeks prior to the date you want to go.
Closed Sunday and Monday
Open Tuesday - Saturday 1PM - 5PM and 7PM - 11PM
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