We'd recently read very enthusiastic commentaries on the reinvented Casino Hotel Restaurant in Morelia. It is now Restaurante Lu, after Lucero Soto Arriaga, the woman chef who took command of the kitchen two years ago is said to have presented a fresh vision of the cuisine, hearkening back to indigenous foods.
Alhough I'm very dubious when it comes to upscale restaurants, three of us decided to go to comida there last Thursday. I was not ready to commit myself to spending $215 MXN for the tasting menus, one of which was churipo con corundas, another of antojitos típicos, including a pig's foot tostada. I simply can't bring myself to spend so much money on foods that are commonly available and inexpensive elsewhere.
I decided to have Filete de Pescado en Salsa de Guajillos y Naranja, wrapped in Hoja Santa. I'd enjoyed this very dish there a few years ago, before the advent of the present chef.
Our amiga ordered Filete de Pescado envuelto de Coco.
My wife requested Mole de Cacahuate con Pollo.
The ladies shared a pitcher of limonada, and I ordered a copa of vino blanco Semillón. ($60)
The waiter brought a basket of breads, consisting of small and quite tasteless white rolls, and the intriguing tamales de harina. The latter reminded me of Chinese steamed bread, and the dark salsa picante on the table perked up their otherwise bland taste.
The drinks arrived, and the limonada was o.k., but needed further stirring for sweetening. That is not unusual in Mexican restaurants.
The glass of wine was a bit on the skimpy side, but otherwise pleasant.
My wife's salad of fruits was attractive and very good, she reports. The cute cap on top was a Parmesan rice (?) crust.
When our main courses came, two were of minimalist plating and modest portions. The third was more generous in portion. (Which see.)
My fish was accompanied by no more than a tiny mound of fine grained, overcooked rice. The sauce was not bad, although too sweet. The guajillo component was nearly undetectable.The fish itself was bland (I suspect it was tilapia) and its texture somewhat soft. I enjoyed the hoja santa leaf. I preferred the version of this dish I'd had a few years ago at El Primer Piso, in Pátzcuaro.
Our friend's filete de pescado en coco lay alone on the plate, except, again, for a little mound of sticky rice. She said it was good, but it was lonely.
What was missing were some vegetables, or a little salad, or something to fill out the platter. Our friend requested a salad and her wish was granted. It was nice little salad garnished with candied flores de jamaica.
My wife's Mole de Cacahuate con Pollo was very good, and generous in portion. It was flanked by a novel scoop of "chocolate ice cream" atop one of those sticky rice platforms and capped with a tostada doily.
We decided to have dessert and coffee elsewhere.
Our bill was around $620 MXN
Based on a single visit, I grant, I'd hesitate to eat there again. The presentations are adorable, bordering on precious, but the basic food leaves something to be desired in quality and especially, the price/value ratio is uneven.
Food *** out of a possible 5
Service *** out of a possible 5
Price $$$ whatever this indicates.