First Bite / Le Chique

Posted on 31. Oct, 2014 in Chew On This

Le Chique RestaurantWe’ve had the luxury of eating at many restaurants but there really, truly is something special about Le Chique. Located at Karisma Hotel’s Azul Sensatori Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, Le Chique, delivers one surprise after another, a real unexpected cutting-edge food experience.

Chef Jonatán Gómez Luna is the wizard behind the curtain; and a humble one at that. He hates the word molecular and instead describes his dishes as “modern, avant-garde rooted in Mexican cuisine.” Throughout our 27 course culinary extravaganza, we took turns asking him questions. We clearly wanted to know more.

Mezcal Express / Smoked Worm

Our welcome cocktail – a carbonated mezcal concoction in an inflatable pouch that gets activated when slapped that’s poured in champagne glass w/ smoked worm rim.

Chef is originally from Mexico City but has never been back. He spent 25 years of his life there but compares it to the hecticness of NYC. Before working at Le Chique, he held positions at El Celler de Can Roca, elBulli, and Noma and actually sent his Head Chef Alejandro Villagrana Pérez to Alinea one summer. With this pedigree, it’s clear to see how Jonatán triumphs, takes risks and presents each dish with his own mark.

The first couple of courses went like this. And what you think you’re eating, is not what it turns out to be.

Le Chique Margarita Nitro

A Margarita Nitro comes as a snowball, made with a molecular infusion of frozen margarita wrapped in white cotton candy.

Chef tries to change the menu seasonally and explained how he uses the best ingredients in Mexico, citing the spider crab they received that very morning. He goes on to describe how the machines he uses are almost possible to attain and that freedom and his wonderful partnership with Karisma are what keeps him there. If he could have a place of his own, it would be a tapas style restaurant that’s more casual and laid back with authentic cuisine. “Like Tickets in Spain but Mexican,” he said.

The procession of savory dishes continued…

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Panucho, a Yucatán specialty gets a reinvention. Normally fried tortilla stuffed w/ refried black beans and other toppings here becomes an egg filled with black beans to one’s surprise when cut.

When asked how long it takes to create each dish, Jonatán said it depends. The team spends about three hours a day prepping and brainstorming. Some dishes take a week, some take a few months. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, 70% of the utensils are custom made by his cousin in Mexico who’s an industrial engineer (props for keeping it in the family).

Foie Gras / Pecan Nut

Bowl of pecan nuts with a hand painted chocolate and foie gras for each guest. You find the one by poking around for the soft ones with their custom made silverware.

It was time for dessert. But before those courses came out, we asked Jonatán if he had a pastry chef. His reply, “I create the desserts.” Chef went on to explain that he started in pastry but now tends to enjoy savory dishes. In fact, he incorporates a lot of techniques from the pastry world into his regular dishes. “Pastry is very precise. General chefs hate desserts but I think all chefs should start with pastry.”

Our three desserts courses follows.

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Lemon Pie – faux lemon which is actually a lemon candy shell housing
lemon curd inside.

Bottom line, Le Chique is a must visit while in Mexico. The establishment is half restaurant, half magic show. We are thrilled to have experienced it all and quite frankly, can’t stop talking about it. We want to thank Chef Jonatán and his entire crew and staff. You lead us on a true adventure that we will continue to savor.

Le Chique / Carretera Cancun-Puerto Morelos km 27.5 / Manz 37, Super Manz 12 / Riviera Maya, Mexico / +52 998 872 8450

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