As promised in my Chicago trip recap part 2, I will devote a whole post to my meal at Topolobampo, Rick Bayless’ fine-dining restaurant. S, his sister V, and I were really excited to visit, and yes, we still wanted Mexican food after eating a huge meal at Frontera Grill just a day before.
Unlike most other fine-dining establishments that we’ve visited, one thing that we loved about Topolobampo was its lively atmosphere. There was music, plenty of lighting (do I hear a collective “yay!” from my fellow food bloggers?), and a nice, steady stream of chatter. It wasn’t noisy by any means, but there wasn’t a stifling quietness that often accompanies nice restaurants.
Couldn’t resist starting off with some drinks! V had a cucumber-lime drink (non-alcoholic), and I got a Topolo margarita – both were really nice and refreshing.
Their course system is very similar to that of Gary Danko – instead of separating the dishes into appetizers, entrées, and desserts, the items are separated into categories such as “Vibrant”, “Fresh”, “Complex”, etc. You can choose from any of the categories to make a 3, 5, or 7-course dinner. There’s also a Chef’s suggested “Perfect 7″. The three of us decided to each get a 5-course dinner, which is priced at $90, and share everything.
We got an amuse bouche to start… I wish I could remember what this all entailed, but I believe these were spiced melons.
Shortly after, we were presented with our first courses:
I had to look up what “sikil pak” was – apparently it’s a Mexican pumpkin-seed dip, and I loved it! It had a lightly spicy kick and was really nice and creamy. The summer tomatoes were also really fresh and delicious.
The halibut was quite fresh, but I felt that the marinade was starting overpower the delicate fish. The crispy capers were amazing, though.
Again, I felt that the scallops were being overpowered a bit by the tart tomatillo salsa. However, I thought that the combo of the dried scallop with the fresh worked really well.
Moving on to course 2…
This dish pretty much summed up all of my favorite vegetables: mushrooms, corn, pumpkin seeds, serrano peppers. So my reaction to this was basically, YES. It did not disappoint.
Goat barbacoa was one of the things that S’s labmate, who is from Mexico, recommended us to try if we had a chance. We really liked this – the goat had its characteristic gamey taste but just enough of it, the broth and flavors were rich and hearty. I’d never been a big fan of garbanzo beans, but these were actually quite good.