El Catrin Destileria http://www.elcatrin.ca/home 416.203.2121 open daily breakfast, lunch & dinner
What was once the Boiler House is now no more. The space has done a complete 180 and has turned into one of the most jaw dropping rooms in the city. A floor-to-ceiling mural hand-painted by artists from Mexico and Toronto, adorn an entire wall of the room, taking 6 weeks to complete. Oversized soft lamps hang off the 25 foot ceilings giving one the feeling you’re in for a trip to Mexico. Top Chef Olivier Le Calvez’s idea: create a menu inspired by the way Mexicans celebrate life with traditional, authentic and modern cuisine. He chose a tapas style menu, allowing patrons to taste more of the menu and to spark conversations between friends and family. With live music played on a nightly basis and one of the largest Tequila and Mescal selections in Toronto, El Catrin is a journey for the senses.
An eight course cocktail paired menu awaits the packed room – the kitchen really outdid themselves. I scanned the menu (so you can see the extravagance) and narrowed down my favorites the share with you. A fresh and limey traditional margarita accompanies Guacamole en La Mesa and fresh tortilla chips – all made in house. Ceviche de Atun; diced tuna sweetened from watermelon is lavish, and the leftover liquid that’s so excellent it could be eaten by the spoonful.
Smoky with a hint of pineapple sweetness, Tacos el Pastor is paired quite nicely with a watermelon-rich Fuego Sandia that’s so smooth you can’t even taste the alcohol. I absolutely loved Ensalada de Nopal (cactus salad) tasting similar to earthy green peppers finishing with a hint of heat from the tequila lemon vinaigrette.
Camarones al Ajillo, sautés jumbo shrimp with guajillo chili peppers, white wine and zesty lime served atop over almost creamy red rice. Loaded with tart blackberries the “Zamamora” cocktail is one of the best from the bunch.
Chunks of cinnamon dusted churro suspended in frozen Agua de Coco is liquid dessert dialed up to 11. And nothing tastes better than a churro right out of the fryer and the cajeta dip next to it is wonderful. Double smoked and spiced hazelnut crunch Barra de Chocolat provides a happy conclusion.