Monday, September 23, 2013

Searching for Auténtica Cocina Mexicana, Vol. 2

Last weekend, my wife and I took a trip to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary.  We started the trip by stopping at the amazing New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, New York.  I'll detail this stop later in the week.  After this great visit, we were hungry!

Earlier in the week, I had solicited suggestions for lunch spots in Canandaigua from my Buffalo/Niagara Foodie friends on Facebook.  First to respond to my inquiry, as he's been in the past, was the Buffalo News Food Editor, Andrew Galarneau.  You may recall that Andrew gave me a great tip on an amazing, authentic taqueria in Medina.  Consequently, we had an amazing meal at Taqueria Monte Alban!!

This time around, Mr. Galarneau suggested that we try a great Mexican restaurant and tequila bar in Canadaigua:  Rio Tomatlán. What a great suggestion it proved to be!

Rio Tomatlán uses local ingredients whenever possible to use in its authentic Mexican cuisine.  The food is described as "Pacific Coast Cuisine" and that description was true to form given the extensive variety of seafood on the menu.  There are many options with shrimp and fish that would please any seafood lover.  There were also plenty of authentic options for meat lovers and vegetarians.

If the menu were large, the tequila list was enormous!  Billed as a tequila bar, they have an amazing selection of 170+ bottles of 100% blue agave tequila.

The restaurant also features what they call a "Fine Art Gallery".  There are murals, paintings, and all sorts of great local art from Finger Lakes artists.

We arrived at Rio Tomatlán shortly after 1:00 p.m. on a Saturday.  The place was about 1/3 full when we arrived and probably 2/3 full when we left.  It was a busy Saturday lunch.  Unfortunately, there was only one server for the entire room.  She did the best she could, but getting things from the bar or kitchen to the table took quite a while.  I would think they would have planned better for a Saturday lunch.  While that was disappointing, it certainly didn't ruin our lunch.

Since it was already into the 1:00 p.m. hour, we didn't want to have a huge lunch.  We decided it was better to order several interesting things off the menu and share.  This is part of the front side of the menu:

We ultimately chose three dishes from the Bocadillos and one dish from the Comida Linguera list.  The thing that immediately jumped out at me was the Ceviche Del Dia.  I hadn't had it in ages,  and in Western New York, it can be hard to find good ceviche.  We also tried the Pico De Gallo to start.  After those, we selected Quesadilla de Harina con Chorizo and Flautas de Pollo.

While we were waiting, my wife enjoyed a red sangria and I ordered one of the best beers from Mexico:

Cerveza Bohemia.  

As we were enjoying our drinks, we overheard the next table ordering guacamole.  It wasn't on the menu, but we both love good, authentic guacamole.  I stopped the waitress as she passed us and asked to change from the Pico de Gallo  to the guacamole.  She said that wouldn't be a problem.

Also while enjoying our drinks, we listened to some Mariachi music and enjoyed all the art.  Here's a look at the mural on the back wall of the dining room:

After a considerable wait, our server arrived with the ceviche and Pico de Gallo.  She said the guacamole would follow shortly.  The food looked so good we couldn't wait!

I immediately dove into the ceviche.  This is what it looked like when it arrived on the plate in front of me:

The Ceviche Del Dia, which that day featured shrimp, was incredible!  I could have had just two of those and been happy.  The shrimp were "cooked" or cured perfectly in the mixture of lime and what seemed to be pineapple juice.  There were gorgeous yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced red onion, thinly sliced jalapeños, and cilantro.  The ceviche was bathed in salsa huitchol from Nayarit, Mexico and perched atop a fried corn tortilla.  The dish was exquisite.

While we enjoyed the ceviche, the guacamole arrived.  It was presented to us in the most artful way I've seen guacamole presented:

This is by far the best guacamole that I've had in a restaurant   It was clearly made to order and was incredibly fresh.  The avocados were mixed with diced red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime juice.  Atop the finished guacamole was more cilantro and delicious cotija cheese.  The freshly made guacamole was served with the pit of the avocado in it so that it wouldn't oxidize too quickly.  Delicious, fresh, and authentic!  So good!

After we'd finished the bocadillos, we awaited the rest of the meal.  After a much shorter wait, the remaining dishes arrived.  This is the plate put down in front of my wife:

As you can see, this is the Flautas de Pollo.  The Flautas are chicken tacos with corn tortillas.  The tacos are deep fried and served with salsa verde, crema mexicana, romaine, purple cabbage, and cotija cheese.  This, unfortunately, was the least successful dish of the afternoon   That didn't stop us from nearly eating every bit of it!  The chicken was a bit dry and lacked flavor.  That downplayed just how good the salsa verde and crema were.

Here's the plate set down in front of me:

Quesadilla de Harina con Chorizo.  The flour tortilla was stuffed with melted Oaxaca cheese, oregano tomato sauce, pico de gallo, crema mexicana and chorizo.  The quesadilla was strikingly good!  The chorizo and Oaxaca were delicious and the tart yet sweet tomato sauce was the perfect pairing.  I'd order these again too!

All in all, it was an outstanding, authentic meal.  I'll go back to Canadaigua again just for Rio Tomatlán.

Stay tuned for more detail about the New York Wine & Culinary Center and the other great experiences and meals we had on our trip later this week!


© The Nittany Epicurean, 2013.  All Rights Reserved.

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