On the last Thursday of every month the four of my closest girlfriends in Mexico City make a point of meeting up for dinner. We found that with all our work commitments, various social commitments and of course boyfriend/husband commitments it was very easy for months to have gone by without seeing each other.
I really look forward to these Thursdays. Not only is it a chance to hang out with 4 lovely ladies and talk about everything of importance and of non-importance going on in our lives, but it also gives me a chance to try restaurants that I may not have found on my own.
Having said that, last month we were unable to meet as we all shot off in different directions due to the Easter holidays, so we all met up last night instead – and I have to say, I have not laughed so much in a long time. It feels good to be able to relax like that!
Selfishly I usually choose restaurants in the Polanco area – as it means all I have to do is walk home and not have to struggle with the beast that is Mexican traffic, but last night we all agreed to meet in Condesa, a far more bohemian and chic part of town only 10 minutes away (without traffic). Of course yesterday the heavens decided to open which caused D.F more or less grind to a stand-still, so my usual 10-15minute car journey took me an hour door to door!
However, we ended up in a restaurant called Litoral, which is on Tamaulipas. As it was quite a cold and wet night yesterday, we were all attracted towards Litoral as it looked very cosy and inviting from the outside, and we spotted a perfect round table for the 5 of us, next to a heater. To be honest, I didn’t pay too much attention to the décor, but the vibe I got was bistro meets tratoria; lots of wood, white table linen, candles and a very relaxed atmosphere.
From the moment we entered we were received with impeccable service both from the maitre de and the wait staff. The kitchen staff also seemed to be very adaptable and accommodating as a few of us wanted to share our starters – and unlike the usual ‘plonk the plate in the middle and share’ technique of most places, the kitchen actually had divided everything on to separate plates and presented the food with care. Everyone really seemed to enjoy their starters, K and I shared a fried tortilla with crab, which I really enjoyed and they had a lovely warm garlic bread in the middle of the table. Very good.
Unfortunately my main course left a lot to be desired – and is the sole reason why I probably would not return to Litoral. Three of us chose to have mussels in white wine sauce. I KNOW what were we thinking?! Ordering any type of seafood in this city is a terrible idea – C and I have come to the conclusion that generally ‘Chilangos’ gdon’t know how to cook seafood! But this is one of my favourite dishes to order when I’m at a bistro, especially when it’s cold and dark – I find it incredibly comforting. It’s light and delicious and you get to sop up all that lovely white wine broth with crusty bread – unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The mussels were over cooked, dry, rubbery and falling apart. The broth, had a very tepid taste and had the appearance of dish water. All in all, very disappointing. I believe that they had used frozen mussels on the half-shell and threw them in straight into the boiling broth, which caused their rubbery texture and murky grey broth. Mussels should be cooked in their full shell, and should almost steam themselves before the shells pop open.
Two of my friends complained about their meal – and the waiter was very gracious and took it away immediately and actually came back a few minutes later with a fresh bowl of mussels, as he really wanted her to try how ‘delicious they should be’. Unfortunately by this point, we had all lost the appetite for the mussels and were diving into the French Fries. I must admit I was eyeing my friend’s dish with envy, as she had ordered pasta with duck Bolognese.
Because those mussels were quite frankly so off-putting, I really don’t think I would choose to go back to Litoral. However, if for some reason I find myself in Condesa again and enough time has passed (just the thought of them now, makes my tummy turn) I think I will choose to stick with the meat and pasta dishes – as they seem to be really good at that.
This place seemed to be very popular, and by the way the clientel spoke to the waiters I got the feeling there was a lot of repeat patronage – and no matter how popular or trendy a place is if, if the food doesn’t measure up it can’t stay around for long.
If any of you have been to Litoral – I would love to hear what you thought of it? Did we just have a bad night in regards to the food?
Litoral Restaurante & Bar
Tamaulipas #55, Loc. B, Mexico City 06140, Mexico