Monday, January 29, 2024

Salvajes Brasserie: One of SMA's Best Restaurants

I’ve spent half my life wanting to be French and now I know why. I threw out the rule book for eating French food the day Chef Jorge Avendaño made me Coq au vin for the very first time. It’s the only dish in SMA I can eat every day with my eyes closed. The 5 course menu he cooked last week included another round of Coq au Vin, only this time it was even better. Coq au vin is my favorite dish when Chef Jorge Avendaño prepares it; no other dish even comes close. Chef Jorge Avendaño started cooking with French and Spanish chefs and that’s where he made his mark. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Mexico, he worked for over 20 years in restaurants and hotels around the world. In Mexico, he was the Executive and Creative Chef at Parker and Lenox, Puebla 109, Corredor Tonala and Catalina, among others. His career changing moment was when he worked with Chef Rene Redzepi, owner of the three-Michelin star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. At Noma, he became an expert in many things, including fresh, seasonal produce. The dishes he creates today are unquestionably Michelin class. Aida Alaya Garcia is the front of the house force along with son, Georgie. You’re likely to meet his managing partner in the restaurant, the delightful Alejandra Cortina. At Salvajes, we always sit at the chefs table for 2 with a view of the chefs at work; it’s undeniably the best seat in the house.
Also in the house is one of the best Mixologists in SMA, Mike Espinosa, who has been Jorge’s friend for years and will also be managing the new Bastardo property when it opens. Safe to say with this duo, both restaurants are in expert hands.
The cocktail culture in SMA is at a whole new level these days and nobody ever said that mixology was the easy part of the business. Just ask Mike Espinosa, who created a new menu of cocktails just for Salvajes and Bastardo. Try a Blue Cheese Negroni, an aged cocktail created in several stages. First the Gin fatwash is infused with a London dry with butter and blue cheese for a week and at the same time they craft the fig's vermouth, also infused for one week. After that process, they batch the Negroni with orange liquor, the crafted vermouth and the fat washed gin (removing any fat or oil from the mix) aging it in small barrels until it’s ready for consumption. After an incredible, five course comida, which included Kumamoto oysters’ fresh from Ensenada, the best French onion soup we’ve ever eaten anywhere, a mammoth scallop with celery root that was caught in La Paz yesterday, bone marrow with escargot and Coq au vin complimented by Pink Peppercorn and salt bread, we walked seven doors up to find the new Bastardo restaurant in progress and it’s a total knockout! Opening at the end of February, 2024, at Hidalgo 66, it has an oversized kitchen and a custom BBQ that takes up an entire wall. The multi level restaurant with gigantic trees, some of them soon to be blooming blue Jacarandas, stunning gardens and a custom playground in back will open in late February just before we take off for our culinary trip through Mexico. Like Salvajes, Bastardo was blessed with those beautiful old tile floors that we’re in our own kitchen back in Chicago.
Salvajes Brasserie has been in our top three restaurants in SMA since they opened. We’re convinced that Chef Jorge Avendaño is one of the best chefs in SMA, if not the best. Also, we’re predicting that Bastardo will go down as the best thing that happened to the food scene in SMA in 2024. How’s that for the perfect trifecta? Chef Jorge Avendaño is also the consultant and chef at La Sotomayor Cantina at Anatole France 70 in Polanco; one of Mexico City’s most popular neighborhoods. Salvajes Brasserie Hidalgo 92 Tuesday - Saturday: 1:00 PM - 10:00 PM Sunday: 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM Chef Jorge Avendaño Manager/Mixologist: Mike Espinosa