Monday, December 28, 2020

New Tacos Hit the Mark

With all the great tacos in town, I should never name the Taco of the Year before December 31st at midnight.

Another two tacos hit the mark at Aquila; one as original as the Jicama Taco at La Azotea – the principal taco in SMA for the past 16 years. 


The Jicama taco is a texturally adventurous bite - the shell is a thin slice of Jicama topped with lightly breaded shrimp, chipotle mayo and a tamarind sauce. The fried leek finish put this taco in a class by itself so leave it to the same group (La Azotea, Pueblo Viejo, Atrio and Aquila) to create another winning bite: a taco shell made with cecina and stuffed with suckling pig. You’ll adore this confit, which is cooked for 16 hours. The Mexican sauce that topped this taco was recently replaced with a new Peruvian criolla sauce of Chinese pea, purple onion, sesame oil, Togarashi (a Japanese spice and Tiger milk. 4 generous portions are $290 pesos.

The second taco is Sweetbreads Chicharron with a finish of Tomatillos and Morita chili peppers. Four sizeable tacos are $240 pesos.

Beautifully complementing this meal was Chorizo – possibly the best we’ve eaten - a delightfully rich Cebolla Llorona ($110 pesos) and a salad: a mix of baby lettuce, Figs, sunflower seeds, feta cheese and a cognac reduction for $190 pesos. These three dishes - the Chorizo, onion and salad – are a meal in itself and can be split by two for just $225 pesos each. Aquila is well priced; from a pan of Chorizo that will run you $150 pesos to a Rib Eye steak at $1250 pesos. The wood grilled meats are exceptional. The experience made perfect with a roof that opens to the sky.


One thing we know - you’ll be crazy about anything you order at the new Aquila, especially when it’s off the wood fire and you’re accompanied by a chef who loves their food as much as I do.

A great addition to the SMA food scene, this is unquestionably one of the best new restaurant openings in SMA in 2020.

Aquila

Jesus #3, Centro

Daily: 1:00 PM - 10:00 PM.

Note: Check with the restaurant; the closing time is currently regulated by the city.

All safety protocols followed.

Masks removed for photographs and consumption.

Health First certified by the city of SMA.

 


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Introducing AQUILA: Our 2020 Meal of the Year

There’s a new restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, AQUILA, and we can’t stop talking about it; especially when we found one of our favorite chefs in the kitchen. Good food is good food but it’s always defined and oft times elevated by the chef. Three years ago, we called Chef Arturo Sandoval the best new chef of 2017. With his arrival at Atrio that year, he offered some of the most creative and delicious cuisine in the city. Now, 10 dishes into his new menu at Aquila, we’re crazy about this restaurant and we’re just getting started. We’ve pledged to try every cut of meat on the menu, cooked in a charcoal and wood oven. The quality of the products and the elegant but simple way they were prepared is something we’ll remember about this meal; one of the best we’ve eaten in Mexico.

Aquila was a daylight club and for months, catered mainly to weekend visitors from Mexico City. Today, no restaurant in SMA boasts a stronger pedigree: owners, Jose Maria Calvo (Chema) and Jesus Manuel Calvo (Chus), have gifted SMA with some of the city’s most popular restaurants – Atrio and La Azotea – and have transformed Aquila into their finest property yet. Their standing, as the top restaurateurs in SMA, has been recognized once again with the addition of Aquila.

The ceiling of the dining room is open to the sky, covered in billowing fabric to shade the diners below; it’s the most spectacular feature of the restaurant. The décor is clean with cozy, modern accents. The menu is peppered with interesting dishes of Mexican and International origins but the New Jersey beef is the star of the show. The beef comes from all Black Angus steers that are 100% hormone and antibiotic free; the animals are raised on small, family owned farms and finished on corn to develop the marbling. There’s no better beef in SMA; we know - we’ve tried them all.

Every dish and detail of this meal was over-the-top; our 2020 Meal of the Year with two short months to go. The restaurant also has first-class service, opulent side dishes, great wines, and gold standard cuts of meat.

With the perfect balance of a crusted, salty exterior and a medium-rare, buttery interior, we’ve finally met our match for the best, “new” restaurant in SMA this year.

Buen Provecho!

Our Menu:

The start - Mexican and Peruvian appetizers:


Tostada de Aguachile Negro de Camaron, Pescado y Pulpo/ Black Aguachile Toast with Shrimp, Fish and Octopus. Seafood lovers rejoice – this is your dish, especially of you love Pulpo.

Cappaccio de Rib Eye: Laminas de Rib Eye Marinado en Sambal con Chicharron de Cebolla y Salsa Mexicana/ Rib Eye Cappaccio: Sambal Marinated Rib Eye Laminates with Onion Chicharron and Mexican Sauce.This is one of the most festive dishes on the menu. The Sambal gives this dish a well-defined kick; the rib eye sliced paper thin. 

Chile de Lengua – Chile Guero: Relleno de Estofado de Lengua en Pipan Rojo y Xoconostle/ Chile de Lengua - Chile Guero stuffed Tongue Stew in Red Pipan and Xoconostle. The red Pipan mole from Oaxaca, made from dried chiles, ground seeds and nuts, lifted the flavors of the tongue. We especially loved the fork tender meat.

Causa de Atun: Causa Limena Envuelta en Atun y Camaron Roca/ Cause of Tuna: Cause Limena wrapped in Tuna and Rock Shrimp. A typical entrée of Peruvian gastronomy, this version was made with yellow potato. Chef Sandoval is an expert in Peruvian-Japanese style cooking.

Cono de Atun: Masa Ceocante Rellena de Tartar de Atun y Guadamole/ Tuna Cone: Ceocante Dough Stuffed with Tuna Tartar and Guacamole. Combined with the crispiness of the mini cone, the dish was finished off with a surprise stuffing of good guacamole. The dark red color of the tuna is a sign of its freshness and quality.


Meat: The Rib Eye

There’s nothing better than a top cut of Rib Eye cooked over wood and charcoal, producing a meat flavor that’s rich, complex and not easily forgotten. The chef’s secret, all we know is that most everything with this chef involves a lot of butter. This was the BEST RIB EYE WE’VE HAD IN SAN MIGUEL in the almost 9 years we’ve been here. Besides, here in Mexico, we love anything that’s finished off with corn.

Sides:


Espinacas con Crema/Spinach and Cream – so deliciously heavy on the parmesan cheese, we actually forgot we don’t like creamed spinach.

Is there anything better than a freshly-baked pan of homemade dinner rolls with beef? A small, cast iron fry pan of soft and buttery homemade rolls, a little on the sweet side, was a delicious complement to the meat. Even the bread was remarkable.

Desserts:

Arroz con Leche: Mil Hojas de Arroz Al Coco Con Brulee de Limon/ Rice pudding: Thousand Leaves of Coconut Rice With Lemon Brulee.

The sweet, crispy crust made this dessert.

Cheesecake de Macadamia: Palomitas de Caramelo y Macadamia Tostada en Salsa de Dulce de Leche/ Macadamia Cheesecake: Caramel Popcorn and Toasted Macadamia in Dulce de Leche Sauce. Our favorite dessert; this tasted more like Panna Cotta than Cheesecake. 

Aquila

Jesus #3, Centro

Daily: 1:00 PM - 10:00 PM.

Note: Check with the restaurant; the closing time is currently regulated by the city.

All safety protocols followed.

Masks removed for photographs and consumption.

Health First certified by the city of SMA.