Monday, September 16, 2013

Cuisine at Hecho en DUMBO

Somehow, it always surprises us when we end up eating Mexican cuisine. Maybe it's because the country seems stuffed full of Mexican restaurants that try to convince us that rice, beans, and tortilla can be combined in enough different ways to make up a couple of dozen items on the menu, but, when we find ourselves in a restaurant that uses carefully crafted, slow-cooked sauces to complement a menu of interesting dishes, it always leaves us happily surprised.

Hecho en DUMBO, which means "Made in DUMBO," is not actually located in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. The chef got his start there, with a small pop-up dinner in a cafĂ© there, but now he's managed to find a permanent space in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Using fresh, local ingredients, he is making small shared plates influenced by the cuisine of Mexico City.

Small plates and local ingredients. How could we resist? We found ourselves there for an early dinner, fighting our way past the happy hour crowd at the bar to a table in the back. Another benefit of Mexican Cuisine? The margarita menu. Instead of pages of the usual sugary, fruity slush concoctions one finds in most Mexican restaurants, here the cocktail was simple and focused on the tequila. Like a good whiskey, tequila can create some dark, complicated cocktails, which can be a great way to sit and ponder a dinner menu. After such a hearty drink to start the evening, we wanted a hearty dinner. So instead of sharing a few small plates, we decided to share one giant plate, piled high with meat. The Parridilla Yucateca is a house specialty: a plate of half a dozen different grilled meats, with a little bit of cheese. We ordered a salad of garbanzo beans to make it a healthy dinner, and a Malbec to drink, because what other choice is there for a pairing with a pile of meat? It was amazing. Hearty, smokey, meaty goodness filling the table in front of us, paired with a wine that always manages to hold its own against the strong flavor the grill, while bringing a balance of spice and fruit of its own.

Like finding a great wine from an unexpected region, it's wonderful to be reminded that good food isn't about some stereotypical interpretation. Good ingredients, careful preparation, and the deft hand of a skilled chef are universal to all cultures, and can give us amazing dishes in every corner of the world.

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