Tuesday, June 26, 2012


It had been two years since we'd visited El Racó, a Catalán restaurant at Avenida Sonora 174, near the vague boundary between Colonia Roma and Colonia Hipódromo-Condesa. Both areas are among the most charming of the great city.

El Racó hides its numerous pleasures behind a modest facade, with a view of the northern part of the Parque México. From the moment you walk in the door and are seated with a sincere and warm welcome from Sr. Hector Uguarte, to your first taste of the creations of Chef Alfonso Cuevas*, it all makes a very pleasant experience.

The celebrants two years earlier
We reserved for 3 p.m. although we could have found a table at the hour on that Saturday.
We were bought olives, and after a pause, good bread and butter. 

As this dinner was in celebration of our anniversary, we chose a bottle of vino blanco espumante. We chose one of the lower priced cavas. However, Sr. Uguarte generously brought us a superior bottle at the same price. It was, according to my sketchy notes, Jané Ventura Xarel lo Macabeu i Parrillada. It was delightful, semi-dry and refreshing.

There was a small card on the table with Las Sugerencias del Chef. These were the specials of the week, among them a celestial Crema de Pimiento Rojo, and a woodsy Sopa de Hongas; shiitakes, clavitos y tejamaniles. These came as small but deeply flavored portions.

I realized that one might make a very satisfactory meal at El Racó of nothing but the wonderful soups. On the personal recommendation of Chef Cuevas, we ordered the Crema de Almejas. This was a more ample serving, sufficient to be shared. The liquid was not really "Crema" as I understand it, but a well flavored shellfish stock, with some small, Portuguese clams. We enjoyed the Crema de Almejas, but the two earlier soups even more.

Crema de Almejas
We'd already decided to share as our main course Huauchinango a la Sal. This is a very simple preparation of a whole fresh fish, embedded in a mound of coarse salt, and roasted at a high temperature. 

When it is done, the chef uses two spoons to remove the salt, bones and serves it table side. It's made without any condiments or adornments other than a touch of olive oil. The accompanying Pastel de papas, laminas of potato baked with a bit of cream, were a nice side. If you want the pure fresh taste of fish, this is an ideal dish.

Chef Cuevas bones the Huauchinango streetwise
Afterwards, Sr. Uguarte brought a bottle to our table and offered us two small glasses of ratafía de la casa, a liqueur or aguardiente with an intensely herbal taste, dominated by rosemary.

We finished our meal with Triángulos Rellenos de Crema con Salsa de Café,  from the sugerencias. These resembled wonton wrappers, filled with pastry cream, deep fried and served with a small amount of a coffee syrup or sauce. Very nice, light and not as elaborate nor as expensive as the desserts from the regular repertoire.  

Food:  *****+

Service: *****+ Very warm and personalized attention from the staff.

Price: $$-$$$$

Ambience: very modest, casual, but comfortable.

Bathrooms: down a few steps. Small, but clean and well kept.

We will return whenever we can to this restaurant.

Location and Contact: 
Av. Sonora 174-A Col. Hipodromo Condesa C.P. 06100, México, D.F. Tel. 52862188 Fax 52114343

*No relation to this blogger.


Steve Cotton said...

I am still abed after spending the night awake as part of my de-worming.  Your post made me realize just how hungry I am -- and how I will find nothing of the sort in Melaque.

John Calypso said...

On my list - Gracias!

Felipe Zapata said...

Very good report!

DonCuevas said...

Surely there's fresh fish in Melaque, Steve.