Mexican food done right is one of my favorite things. I love the flavors, the nuisances of the heat, and of the intensity of dishes. We went to Claro for dinner a week or so ago where the chef, TJ Steele has taken his love of Oaxacan food (years of traveling and living there) and brought his take on it to Brooklyn. Even the plates that the dishes are served on are from local artisans from Oaxaca.
Everything can be shared and we did. The list of Mezcals is long but they also have wines, cocktails, and tequila. We began with Aquachile de Sepia. Strawberries, charred habanero and thin slices of sepia served in a bowl alongside warm tortilla chips. The juice of those strawberries just had a hint of sweet and then the heat hits your mouth from the habanero. Not only is this a beautiful presentation, the dish is delicious and we were still talking about it over the next couple of days.
A spring salad of farm vegetables, pea shoots, quesillo cheese and chapulines (grasshoppers). A mixture of summer tossed with a roasted vegetable dressing. Love the grasshoppers as they are everywhere in every dish in Oaxaca.
Asparagus and avocado tostada. I love the layering he has done on top of each tostada. It keeps the flavors separate until you break into it.
Yellowfin Tostada. Blood orange, chicharron, crispy pork rinds and a spicy chili sauce. It is as good as it looks.
Chipotle shrimp tacos. They have a serious tortilla program here.
Duck liver pate is hidden underneath these thinly sliced fermented vegetables and then topped with cojita cheese. I just loved this dish. The pate is so rich and intense and the crisp fermented vegetables cut right through it.
Wild mushrooms, goat cheese crema, spicy chili and black beans is another winner. This is one of his memela dishes that are fried cakes made of masa and topped with different flavors. A street snack in Oaxaca.
Tostada with octopus and pickled chilis was my least favorite of the bunch.
Mole shortribs is a must. The meat pulls away and the mole is rich, layered and nuanced. Served alongside with tortillas, rice, and beans you can not go wrong here.
We sat out in the backyard to end the night drinking a Mexican aperitif to calm the stomach. All and all, an amazing evening that needs to be done again.