Saturday, December 26, 2015

Aquiles' Heel

A view of Avenida Acueducto from Aquiles Terraza
"Aquiles' Heel".

A cheap shot title, I will admit. But, in a way it fairly characterizes our meal at the chic, new Aquiles Terraza on Avenida Acueducto in Morelia.

Aquiles Terraza has its strengths, but it has weaknesses as well. I love the casual rooftop setting, other than the ascent of three flights of stairs necessary to reach the Asian influenced dining area.

Arbor up on the roof
The restaurant offers a selection of Asian influenced (read:"interpretations") dishes. If you are a hidebound traditionalist, you may reject them. But if you have an open mind, it could be very enjoyable. I give them credit for attempting something new in Asian cuisine in Morelia. But the bottom line is this, that three of the dishes we had during or recent visit were flawed. With only a little more care in the kitchen, the flaws could have been avoided.

I recalled the first meal we had at the original location, in the Hotel Pórtico, on Calle Aquiles Serdán 744, in Morelia Centro. (Thus the name, "Aquiles 744".)

Our experience at Aquiles Terraza got off to a good start with our drinks. We began with a Mezcal San Mateo for Sra. Cuevas and a Mezcaliña coctel for me. The latter is reminiscent of a Margarita made with mezcal, but without all the frou-frou, or, if you prefer, the hoo-ha. We both enjoyed our drinks.

Mezcaliña Aquiles. (Photo by Aquiles Terraza)
We chose two appetizers. The first were some excellent Camarones Tempura, coated with panko crumbs in place of the traditional batter. I prefer them this way. The dipping sauce, of fish sauce, lime juice and cilantro was overly assertive for the delicate shrimp, but easy to avoid. (This fish sauce-lime juice theme reappears in my Ensalada Thai, yet to come.*)

Camarones Tempura
The other appetizer, Tako Yaki, was three small balls of octopus in wheat flour "dumplings", and a miss. The interior held raw gooey flour paste and some chewy, nearly flavorless octopus pieces. This item should be dropped over the side.

Tako Yaki
Our main dishes were attractive and promising, but both my Ensalada Thai con Rib Eye  and la Señora's Bipimbap suffered from a heavy hand with the seasonings. My salad had an aggressively citric-fish sauce dressing* and the Bipimbap an overload of bean paste or some similar salty, salty condiment. It was also partially cold.

Ensalada Thai with Rib Eye

Although Bipimpap is traditionally served in a heated volcanic stone vessel, in which all the ingredients are stirred to finish cooking, we don't hold Aquiles to tradition.
(A little research indicates that it isn't always served in a heated stone bowl.) It would be analogous to serving in a heated, Mexican molcajete. But at least the food would have been hot.

Aquiles' Bipimbap
Relief came with an order of Thai Tea, "Cha Yen-Thai". We were surprised that it was chilled, but that was good. The orange color and the chai-like sweet spice flavors were odd at first, but we grew to like it. It helped alleviate the excessively pungent flavors of our food.

Thai Tea
We decided to skip dessert, although I had good memories of a Nieve de Rambutan and a panna cotta at the original location.

Although the meal was flawed, we like the concept and would give it another go. But we would make our seasoning preferences known to the waiter to convey to the kitchen this message: "Lighten up!"

The manger or owner came to our table when we finished, and asked how we liked it. I was able to calmly tell him our opinions. He listened quietly, murmured a few things, and didn't get defensive. But I don't know if our message got through.


Food:6 (Could go to 8 with more careful seasoning.)

Service: 8 Very attentive and cheerful.

Price: $$$  (Each $ represents approximately $100 MXP per person)

Ambiance: "Zen Garden", open air terrace. Nice views of Avenida Acueducto.

Wifi: yes

Parking: yes, immediately below, in a guarded lot.

Avenida Acueducto 902, south side)
Between Calles Francisco Márquez and Calle Vicente Súarez.
Colonia Chapultepec Norte,
Morelia, Michoacán, México

Tel: 314-7077

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