Disclaimer: Mixtli doesn’t know that I’m doing this series on them until they start getting tagged on the posts as of today. I paid full price for both meals and wine pairings, so there was nothing provided to me as part of this restaurant assessment.
My wife and I recently celebrated our anniversary dinner at Mixtli. We dropped into the bar and started with a tequila, lime seltzer, and frozen watermelon ball cocktail. It was a perfect way to freshen up before we went into the meal.
Mixtli is a self-described “progressive Mexican culinaria.” After seeing the menu I can confirm that is a perfect description of what they do. Their menu is set and you pay in advance. By coming here, you succumb to the experience that is provided. The only choice you tend to have is if you want the wine pairing or not.
The other thing that surprised me about Mixtli is that they cook and prepare the dishes right in front of you. As in, there is no back-end kitchen. I could have leaned over from our table and touched one of the prep tables.
I’ll get into the food on the next set of posts, but the smell… Oh, the smell! The combined aromas of the ovens, stoves, and freshly made tortillas were enough to warrant getting a reservation.
Time to get into the food! We started our meal with our first wine: the NV M.Haslinger & Fils Brut Champagne. The wine was a solid representation of what you should expect out of Champagne. The nose intensity was medium+ with aromas of red and green apple, anjou pear, and buttered biscuits. On the palate, the wine was a medium+ body with matching intensity. The primary fruit elements of this wine really popped and blended well with the malolactic notes while persisting through the medium finish.
The first course was the bread course: Pan De Suero. We had two different toppings for the little rolls. The first was a Huitlacoche and Applewood Smoked Cultured Butter. Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn and provides a strong earthiness, similar to that of a truffle. The buttery notes in the wine did a good job matching the savory while allowing the acid to elevate the honey. The umami of the Huitlacoche did a really cool balancing act when paired with the primary elements of the wine.
Let’s not forget about the Nasturtium oil though. Holy crap! It was a very different experience but I had a very hard time picking which one I preferred. The wine really let the green elements of the oil shine while giving a bit of body and finish to the dish with its malolactic notes.
The next dish to pair with the champagne was a Ceviche De Calabacita. Besides having a beautiful presentation, the flavors in this dish were very fresh and vibrant. Here the wine gave a bit of savory interaction with the dish by pulling down some of the fruity elements in the food and allowing everything to become a little more balanced.
One wine and two dishes down, let’s get ready for the next round.
The second wine to be poured for dinner was the Bernard Defaix Les Hauts De Milly 2019 Chablis. The next two courses were seafood dishes so they did exactly as I would have done in picking a Chablis to pair with them. The wine has medium nose intensity with aromas of green apple, lemon, and a touch of grapefruit. The palate matches the nose and introduces an element of a strong, quartz-like minerality. It is a dry wine with a medium+ finish and palate intensity.
The third dish was called Tichinda. For lack of a better description, it looked like a fancy topped cracker. However, this dish was far more complex than that. The “cracker” was a squid ink masa topped with cold water mussels, and Chintestle (Oaxacan chile and garlic paste). This has to have been one of the earthiest seafood dishes I have ever had. In my opinion, pairing this dish with the Chablis was a bold move. The deep flavors of this dish could have overpowered a Chablis but the chefs did a great job in allowing the intensities to match.
The fourth course was called Chileajo. Scallops, coastal chiles (Chile Costeño), and coconut were the backbone of this dish. The bowl received some liquid nitrogen to give us a bit of a show as we enjoyed the scallops to top off the presentation. I could have eaten my weight in this dish. Especially when paired with the wine. This course just did everything right.
The third wine in our tasting was the La Sanglière Signature Rosé from Provence France. In my opinion, it’s very hard to find a bad wine from the
Côtes de Provence so this was another good choice to appeal to multiple palates. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the vintage of the wine but I did notice that it was pretty balanced between strawberry, pear, cantaloupe, a touch of lemon. Medium finish, body, alcohol, and acid. Overall, balance and non-intrusive.
The fifth dish in this culinary adventure was the Mole De Cacahuate, which consisted of Iberico pork and a peanut mole. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had Iberico but it was as juicy, salty, and luscious I could recall. The peanut mole was the first mole that I’ve had in a long time that I’ve actually enjoyed. I typically do not like the spices used in traditional mole but the peanuts added a different twist on the palate. The rosé was a perfect middle ground between the salty pork and savory peanut mole.
The sixth course was the Barbacoa De Mariscos: seafood barbacoa with seafood salsa and freshly made tortillas. Some folks think that barbacoa is a cut of meat (beef cheek for example), but its traditional derivation is a method of cooking in which the meat is steamed in an underground “oven” until extremely tender. The seafood on this plate was perfect. The broth was spicy and did well in preserving the moisture in the seafood. The green olives added a nice briny note and the seaweed salsa infused a strong umami element. The wine gave a fruitiness that was missed in the dish but rounded everything out.
On a side note, my wife and I fought over who was going to finish more of the broth. She won…
Wine four was a biggun’! We have the Château Petit-Freylon 2018 Cuvée Michael Bordeaux. Château Petit-Freylon is located about 25 miles (~40km) southeast of Bordeaux. Knowing what the next two dishes were, I thought it was a weird choice for the next dish but I kept an open mind. The wine was full body, medium alcohol, medium acid, medium+ finish, and possessed notes of cherry, plum, chocolate, black cherry, cedar, and a touch of clove.
The seventh course was Hongos. It was a dish of pickled mushrooms, greens, refried black beans, cheese strings, and a homemade chip. Essentially, this was a really fancy micro-tostada but it totally worked. The creamy beans, crisp tortilla, bitter greens, and salty cheese worked together with the fruitiness of the wine.
The final dish for this wine pairing is Mole Amarillo. It was a dish of grass-fed ribeye, charred onion, and a Chilhuacle Amarillo paste. Chilhuacle Amarillo is one of the rarest chili’s in Mexico and has a weird mix of citrus and smoke on the palate. However, it really works when you mix all the salty, citrus, and charred elements together. The Bordeaux did a good job as a supporting actor in this by providing the fruit and acid needed to bring the dish into balance.
Let’s talk about desserts and the wine chosen to go with them. First, the Intermezzo (Intermission) was a smoked yogurt with whey ice. This was totally out of the blue and I never would have imagined that I would have this combination of flavors but it was so creamy, sharp, and refreshing that I was ready for the last wine of the night.
Then came the Manzanilla..? I was not expecting this at all. Manzanilla is a dry fortified white wine made from the Palomino grape and must be made in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Southwest Spain). This is a more oxidized version of Fino Sherry and is not something I would have ever considered for a dessert wine. I would have probably aligned more towards a Pale Cream, Cream Sherry, or Port. Those are safe bets though and this was not a meal made to be safe.
The first dessert course was the Study of Oaxaca. Without hiding anything from you, this is where my notes fall apart (I blame the Sherry). The dish consisted of a crumble, quenelle, broken popcorn, and chocolate ribbon. The salt in the Manzanilla really did well with keeping up with the quenelle, crumble, and added an extra level of depth to the chocolate.
We ended with Mignardises. They were served inside of a cocoa pod on top of the beans and it was one of the coolest presentations that I have seen for such a dish. It really brought you back to the origin of the dish and still somehow worked with the Manzanilla. But… but… I will say that this was stretching the Sherry. The chocolates were more on the dark/bitter side so it would have been nice to have a bit of sweetness to brighten their flavors. It wasn’t that big of a deal though.
In the end, I would highly recommend Mixtli as a place to bring your friends, family, wife, side-piece, or anyone else who is interested in experiencing a truly unique culinary adventure.