Topolo – Restaurant Week Review

On Tuesday, I went to Topolobampo (Rick Bayless’s upscale Mexican restaurant on Clark and Illinois) for lunch and had the restaurant week menu.

To start, I had the Sopa Azteca, a sort of tortilla soup.  The soup was tomato-pepper with avocado, chicken, jack cheese, topped with tortilla strips and served with a wedge of lime.

Even though I tend to avoid soups when dining out (mostly because I find them tiring), the Sopa Azteca at Topolo was a pleasant surprise.  I particularly enjoyed it because I found the course to be very three-dimensional.  When I say I find soups to be tiring, I mean that many of them are sort of one-note.  I really liked this soup because it allowed me to incorporate different components into each spoonful.  It was well balanced, thoughtful, and fun to eat.  The bowl should have been heated, given how shallow it was.  But overall, a good beginning to the meal.

For my main, I had the Puerco con Mole.  I had high expectations for this dish, as Rick Bayless won season one of Top Chef Masters with his mole (a traditional Mexican sauce with over 20 ingredients.  Bayless supposedly spent several years perfecting his rendition).  I’ve had mole before, from Mexican restaurants in California.  I was actually unimpressed with most of the components of this course.  The mole I found to be thin and a bland.  The pork was well roasted, but I question the choice of protein – this course was served with several corn tortillas, but the pork loin was not so tender that it could be elegantly bitten through when folded into a taco.  The black beans and the green beans didn’t do much to round out the dish, and the whole plate tasted a little dull.

Dessert was a crepe with plantains (sort of in a bananas-foster style), served with sour cream sorbet, cajeta (a sort of caramel like sauce), crushed peanuts, and some chocolate sauce.  I liked this course, but I didn’t love it.  It was a nice end to the meal, but I think more crepe and less sorbet would have helped the sweet-tangy balance.

For $22, a decent restaurant week deal, but one which left me with no desire to return and sample the menu further.

Lunch at Topolobampo – $28

Three stars:

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