Apr 01, 2014 08:50AM
● By Anonymous
Pollo la Brasa
By James Reid
If you have dined at Mi Cocina or Taco Diner, you have experienced the culinary skills of Mico Rodriguez. From humble beginnings, he built a restaurant empire that featured elegant, modern locations with top-notch service across the Metroplex. But at the top of his game, he left the company he helped build behind and took a three-year break to get sober and regain his legendary focus.
He began his comeback to the Dallas dining scene in winter 2011 by opening a cozy Tex-Mex-American restaurant on McKinney Ave. in Uptown. It had all the key “Mico” hallmarks: excellent service from the staff, elegant décor and simple yet satisfying dishes. Yet it was only the beginning.
With the opening of Mesero Miguel in the space formerly occupied by Cuba Libre, the short-lived Alma and the even shorter-lived Lemon Bar, the full force of Rodriguez’s personality is on display. The space has been reborn as a glossy, elegant and sleek destination for well-crafted drinks and carefully prepared food served up by sharp, enthusiastic wait staff. On the first floor, sliding glass doors open the entire dining area onto a small outdoor seating area perfect for cool spring and fall nights in Dallas. Upstairs, a lively bar scene makes waiting for your table an enjoyable experience. With five versions available, the margarita is king here as the wine selection is lacking in depth. Go for the “b.” margarita, featuring lime, peach and fresh basil.
Rather than overloading the menu with overly ambitious dishes, it features easy-to-discern sections highlighting carefully selected combinations of high-quality ingredients. Our group began by supplementing the complimentary chips, salsa, tomatillo dip and spicy cheese dip (not the queso you might be imagining) with a platter of fresh guacamole. The waiter served the first portion onto a thick corn chip to each diner. We could have easily eaten a second platter of it. The avocados were just the right texture, plus it was well salted and had a perfect mix of garlic, onions and cilantro.
We also sampled the lump crab fritters that arrived at the table perfectly hot and fried. They weren’t greasy, and when cut in half with a fork, they split open, revealing actual chunks of crabmeat. When dipped in the sweet corn and herb aioli, they were tangy, crunchy and flavorful. If you love seafood, you must try this dish.
For the main course, two of our guests shared a brisket taco and several tacos de asada on corn tortillas with a side of white rice. These reminded them of dining at Taco Diner, but the portions were larger. While a solid choice, they were not spectacular. I ordered off-menu and asked for their braised chicken covered in a rich, smooth, decadent mole sauce and a side of rice. By itself, the braised chicken would have been fairly average, but the addition of the mole sauce made the dish come alive. My other dining companion chose the cheese enchiladas. They were not smothered in chili con carne; instead, they had just the right amount, so it didn’t overwhelm the actual enchilada itself. The kitchen executed all the dishes very well.
Finishing off, our waiter highly recommended the cinco leches cake, describing it as smoother, creamier and sweeter than tres leches cake. He was spot-on with his description. All four of us had to stop eating it only because it was so rich and also because we ordered the s’more ice cream sandwich as well. Both desserts were a fine finish to the meal.
Mico Rodriguez has done it again by showcasing his excellent taste in elegant décor, attention to detail in the finely crafted menu and his expectation for excellent service from his staff. Welcome back, Mico.
2822 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas