I don’t write restaurant reviews, for several reasons.
- I am not Pete Wells, Jonathan Gold, or Ruth Reichl, although I wish I could be.
- I don’t possess the skills or the patience required for such a task.
- My budget for eating out does not include eating at the same restaurant for as many times as necessary until I can determine how I truly feel about the meal.
- Disguises, while fun, would probably be exhausting after a while. It is, however, fun to imagine a photo of myself hanging up in a restaurant kitchen. You know, just to keep the staff terrified.
No, I don’t write reviews. But I will always, always tell you where I’ve had an exceptional meal and think you would, too. It would be a shame to keep that information to myself.
When I first moved to New York City at the end of October, I was focused on settling into my new home and adjusting to culinary school. Eating out and trying new things weren’t a priority for me, so when 2017 rolled around, I decided it was time for me to explore the city more and finally satiate my culinary curiosities.
The meal that stands out the most in my recent memory was dinner at Cosmé, Enrique Olvera’s restaurant in the Flatiron district. A little background info: Cosmé earned three stars from Pete Wells in the New York Times, was number one in his roundup of Top New York Restaurants of 2015, and made it onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants at #16. Perhaps most impressive is Daniela Soto-Innes, the Chef de Cuisine at Cosmé, who won the Rising Star Chef Award from the James Beard Foundation last year when she was only 25. Her mantra? “Go faster; never have a dirty towel or apron on you; and never say no.”
My friends and I managed to snag a reservation for Superbowl Sunday, and we gorged ourselves on food that was clean, contemporary, and different. The food is “ostensibly simple but profoundly complex,” and certainly distinguishes itself from what people typically think Mexican food is. Olvera’s food reminds me that there is more to Mexican cuisine than guacamole and burritos, and it is difficult- if not impossible- to know what ‘Mexican food’ is when, as Olvera says, “Mexico is so large and there are so many regions that not even Mexicans know it well.”
My favourite dish on the menu: mole verde with seared brussel sprouts, pine nuts, and kale.
Enrique Olvera, on his food: “I say it’s a personal interpretation of Mexican food: some dishes are very traditional, some are more contemporary. The mole might be like a traditional recipe, but we try to do things that are authentic- things that we do ourselves, that nobody else does. It’s not how grandma used to do it. It’s not a deconstruction of what grandma did. It’s not molecular. It’s something that is very organic, very authentic. We try to be honest because we think that flavour is the most important thing in a dish… We like things that are interesting and fun to your palate. I think a restaurant should always be evolving. [It] should never be static.”
Food writer Tamar Adler on Cosme and Enrique Olvera: “What distinguishes Cosme from all- and from Rosa Mexicano and Dos Caminos in New York, or Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, which lean toward fusion cuisine served by waiters obliged to make guacamole tableside- is Enrique’s culinary credibility. Enrique isn’t ‘inspired by’ Mexican food. It is his soil and his roots.”