Sometimes I wonder if I am crazy or my taste palate is just off. Cosme made me question my taste in food even more…..or question social media instead.
I had read multiple reviews about Cosme and they all raved about it. We booked a table the day reservations opened and even then, had a challenging time scoring a prime time. I tried at 6am London time (1am NY time or an hour after they were made available) and even then, was just able to get a 6pm slot. My friend Kama had emailed them and all she could score was an 8pm at the communal table so we went for it. Cosme NYC is also the younger sibling of its Mexican brother restaurant Pujol in Mexico City (http://www.pujol.com.mx/) which is on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants which made my expectations even higher.
We were delayed by NY traffic and roadwork and were so afraid we would lose our slot that we ran in heels to the restaurant to make sure they didn’t give our table away – the thought of not trying Cosme was unimaginable.
The space is a bit modern, a bit sparse and doesn’t really have a remarkable personality. Our communal table was actually good, and the seats were not too close to the other people seated there. We had our privacy but benefitted from seeing what our neighbours were eating and asking them for advice.
What we ate:
Stuffed avocado, seafood vuelve a la vida, horseradish: half an avocado served with mixed seafood in a ketchup/ horseradish sort of concoction sauce. The seafood was chunky and fresh and the avocado was perfectly ripe but I am not a ketchup fan and thought the dish was a little 60s.
Crispy octopus, hazelnut mole, pickled potatoes, watercress: best dish of the evening. The octopus was tender, well-cooked and beautifully presented.
Mushroom and squash barbacoa, chilpachole, hoja santa: reviewers raved about this and it was tasty but the mushroom dish we had at ABC Cocina for lunch was far superior.
Enfrijolada, ricotta, hoja santa, creme fraiche, onion: our table was split on ordering this dish – Kama thought it sounded like a waste while Dennis thought we needed to try. Stewart and I were game either way so we all went for it. Kama was right, it was plain and too expensive for what it offered. The dish was basically a tortilla swimming in a bean sauce that was ok but not unique or special. I was curious to try as we had the most amazing black bean soup during our honeymoon in Belize and I was hoping it would transport me back there. It didn’t.
Tostada with trout: crispy nice tostada with fresh and beautiful pink trout on top. It was ok, but we should probably have gone for the uni tostada people rave about. But it had bone marrow sauce and my friend doesn’t eat red meat.
Black garlic rubbed NY strip for tacos, fried shishitos, avocado-tarragon purée: I think the problem with fancy Mexican food is that it doesn’t need to be and there is something to be said about tradition. When you order beef tacos anywhere, your brain immediately brings memories of old school ones and not a few morsels of beautiful beef with avocado mousse on the plate. To be fair, the mousse was delicious and we mopped every last drop of it with the warm corn tortillas but the beef was a bit bland and lacked a nice sear around the edges.
Broiled Red Snapper, Thai hoja santa salsa, plantains, chayote, scallions: a nice looking piece of fish but once again a bit bland. The sauce was good but the fish lacked seasoning.
Nixtamalized Carrot, Cinnamon Cake, Cream Cheese Ice Cream: So, once again we didn’t order one of the things food critics had written about as none of us are meringue fans. We chose the molecular carrot cake and it was obviously not what you would expect of carrot cake but it was interesting and the cream cheese ice cream was the highlight of dinner. I like traditional desserts better but it was not bad.
Brioche, persimmon, ricotta: a Mexican version of French toast with peanut butter and some whipped ricotta. Stewart said the best part of the dessert was actually the flower decoration on it – a very telling comment.
In sum: maybe it is because we didn’t follow reviewers leads in terms of what to order and picked the wrong dishes wrong or maybe our palate is not refined enough for fancy Mexican but we didn’t care for Cosme. It was interesting and dishes were well presented but nothing we ate made me want to rush back or tell friends to go. I actually chatted with the people seated next to us, several from Mexico City and they were not impressed either. Hold tight for my review of the third Mexican food meal we ate in 20 hours in NY, and certainly the best one……
Cosme NYC http://www.cosmenyc.com/
35 E 21st St, New York, NY 10010, United States