Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rosa Mexicano: oh my golly!

After spending Tuesday in chilly conference rooms (even the most packed and popular sessions were freezing), I needed something to warm me up. Luckily, I had a dinner date with a former co-worker at Rosa Mexicano.

I have to admit to feeling spoiled forever by
Tu y Yo; every other Mexican restaurant has to reach--or at least stretch for--that gold standard, or else I'm not impressed. And as a quick glance at Rosa's menu online had revealed enchiladas and taquitos, I was prepared for an upscale version of Tex-Mex.

I arrived a little early, so had time to check out the decor. Dancing wooden figurines lined the windows, and the ceiling was thickly hung with bright, vivid paper banners, giving the place a sense of colorful claustrophobia. Both bar area and dining room were busy and buzzing; this was certainly a popular place.

I wasn't sure whether the guacamole cart was a point in my favor or not; there was a basket piled high with avocados and big bowls of tomatoes and onions, which were freshly scooped up and mixed together in a stone mortar and pestle to created tableside guac. Yes, fresh, and patently not from a packet, but authentic?

As it turned out, the food was great. My friend ordered her usual, which was the chicken-and-cheese enchiladas (without chicken). I went for the mixiote de cordero, in which a lamb shank is painted with chiles, wrapped in parchment paper and steamed.

At the table, the waiter unfastened the parchment from around the shank bone and peeled it back with a fork, tucking it neatly under to form a useful catch-basin for the deep, rich, spicy juices that surround the meat. The lamb came with rice and beans--pretty good, but not at Tu y Yo's black (bean) belt level--and a basket of warm corn tortillas.

The time flew as we caught up and talked business, and soon it was time for dessert. It turned out we both have a weakness for tres leches cake, which came wrapped in soft meringue with a mango salsa--a bright, sharp contrast against the creamy, rich cake.

Okay, so not Tu y Yo. But if I was forced to nominate a second choice, I may have a candidate.

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