This review of a Yucatan restaurant is a break from The Picky Glutton’s usual London-based coverage
Rosas & Xocolate is an odd name for a restaurant and an even odder name for a hotel. Even if it didn’t have a distinctive name, the pink yet graceful mansion-esque premises is hard to miss.
The dining room at Rosas & Xocolate isn’t as big or as grand as the series of rooms at the nearby Kuuk, but it’s arguably more cosy – especially with the picturesque courtyard (sadly not photographed). This may well have helped with the service too – it was far more friendly and efficient. The tasting menu was relatively short, consisting of only seven courses, leaving less room for the occasional dud to hide.
The bread was nothing to write home about, but the choice of roasted garlic oil as an accompaniment was genius – why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?
Bruschetta topped with salmon pate won’t win any awards for originality, but it was creamy and distinctly flavoured.
More complex and less successful was the rocket salad with the peppery leaves cancelling out the sweetness of the roasted figs and strawberries. Crunchy and nutty cocoa nibs added a nice bit of texture, but the alleged presence of coffee was hard to detect.
Tender octopus served at room temperature was joined by a thin, yet sharp and citrusy sauce. All of this contrasted neatly with the habanero sorbet which provided spicy heat, but in a cool, smooth and supple form. It sounds weird, but it all came together beautifully well, with the spice playing off the sweetness while the trickling meltiness of the sorbet complimenting the tenderness of the octopus.
Tender, squishy and fresh little scallops contrasted well with nutty, chewy little pieces of corn. The XO-ish sauce bound the two together, which is just as well as the avocado smear brought little to the proceedings.
The seafood trio ended with seared tuna, but the thin tuna slices were disappointingly texture-less. The soy glaze on the underside of the fish was little consolation and sat uneasily on the tongue next to the vinegary sharpness of the finely chopped peppers and baby spinach.
Although small, slices of duck were nonetheless meaty, fatty and mildly earthy too with a hint of crisp skin. Although the vegetable accompaniments failed to make much of an impression, crisp and meaty black pudding-esque sausage crumbs proved to be an enjoyable garnish for the duck.
The only dessert was a deconstructed chocolate tart. The bittersweetness of the chocolate was balanced out neatly by squidgy cream. The tart wasn’t just dependent on the dark chocolate for taste though – light yet lip-smacking caramel and fluffy coconut sponge were complimented by the chocolate rather than overwhelmed by it, while the nuttiness of the smooth corn-flavoured ice cream cut through all the richness. Pleasing and well-crafted.
Given the relative brevity of Rosas & Xocolate’s tasting menu, I’d normally reserve judgment until after a few return visits. But since it’s sadly unlikely I’ll be returning to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula anytime soon and the tasting menu was still enjoyable, I think it’s safe to say that, while a little hit and miss, the cooking is more than good enough to lure you away from its grander but ultimately far less satisfying competition.
Name: Rosas & Xocolate
Address: Paseo de Montejo 480×41, Colonia Centro, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
Phone: 0052 999 924 29 92
Web: http://www.rosasandxocolate.com/restaurante-bar-dup/restaurante.htm (Spanish and English, although the Spanish version of the site has more information)
Opening Hours: seven days a week noon-midnight.
Reservations: highly recommended
Total cost for one person excluding soft drinks and tip: MXN700 (£28 approx. at time of writing)