Frankly, I will eat Mexican anytime,
anywhere, and that includes the gloppy, salty, Tacos and Enchiladas, Tex-Mex so evident here in Toronto. I have always bemoaned the fact that we have no real Mexican food here in this city so was delighted when my Wednesday group of 5 agreed to my dinner request at Los Colibris and Chef Elia Herrea's fresh take on some fairly classic Mexican fare. I am not talking Empanadas or even Molé here. Small bites of Carnitas, Octopus, fresh Salsa Verde, and the highlight, her Cerviche, all draw the longing Mexican foodie in me.
I had been hearing the buzz about Chef Herrera's food for some weeks now, and my husband only confirmed the hype after having a business meal here. The joint was hopping when we arrived: corporate types having a mixer of some sort, jostling for time with the boss. We were ushered to our comfy booth by the open kitchen, flanked by elegant gilt-framed portraits of sophisticated Mexicans of note and dug into the conversation, wine, and our menus. Our server was extremely attentive and after listening to our vegetarian and shellfish concerns, we decided to put ourselves in his hands and let the food flow with the wine and conversation.
We started with a fresh guacamole with bright, crunchy bits of pomegranate and house made chips, the Tostada de Atun, (Tuna Ceviche..fantastic) and a lovely Kale salad with ginger, pecans, and panela cheese in a light but tangy mango/pineapple dressing. We moved (well, not me) to the Pulpo a la Parrilla (Grilled Octopus), the Torta de Elote and a side of the picanté Papas Bravas (spiced roasted potatoes, pepita romesco), again wonderful. All washed down with several bottles of a Spanish Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo ‘Basa', Telmo Rodriguez.
Chef Herrera, who spent a year at Canoe, was open to my questions and queries about her food, history, and the local machismo harassment issues which made the rounds two years ago in Toronto's restaurant scene. Lovely, warm, intelligent and with a killer smile: and all during dinner service!
Our guests were overwhelmed with the quality and presentation of the food. They obviously had 'lowered expectations' of the typical Mexican food scene in Toronto. But no longer after tasting Chef Herrera's food.
We will be back.