Jonathan Waxman, Top Chef Master and pioneer of California Cuisine, has teamed with the upscale Mexican restaurant chain Rosa Mexicano to create a unique supplemental menu that will soon be available to diners at its downtown Minneapolis outpost.
The Hot Dish was invited to preview the menu and nosh the tasty bits not so commonly served in most restaurants today. From the corn smut to the thalamus gland, we're giving you the offal truth on this deal.
It was explained that while growing up in California Waxman ate a lot of Mexican food and was eager to explore some of the authentic flavors in this type of setting. Working with the corporate executive chef, Waxman helped create the menu that is now rolling out to all Rosa Mexicano locations. These dishes will be available from February 22 through March 11.
Our first dish was the Tacos de Lengua, veal tongue tacos seared with a sweet, crispy glaze and tucked inside their freshly made tortillas. With a bit of spicy tomatillo salsa, they were entirely satisfying and delicious.
Sadly the following dish, the crispy sweetbreads, were a disappointment. The sweetbreads were served in fat, chewy hunks underneath a too-heavy, ultra-crisp crust. The chef assured us the breading would be much lighter when the menu goes into full effect. It was served alongside huitlacoche, affectionately known as corn smut, a fungus that grows on corn, mixed with woodsy portebello mushrooms.
The braised pork cheeks arrived in a sea of rich tomato sauce, succulent and fall-apart tender. Combined with a wavy, kelp-like branch of carefully arranged kale shreds, cooked perfectly tender-crisp with a snow-drift-sized pile of organic grits, they were the essence of winter comfort food. Many at the table agreed this was their favorite dish.
The tri-tip steak required an exhaustive chewing effort, and the winter-root mash served with it was unfortunately dominated by an aggressive rutabaga, drowning out all the flavors with its turnipy need to be the center of attention.
The braised lamb neck enchilada was full of slow-roasted meat but was a bit gelatinous for even our adventurous palates.
Dessert was a frozen Meyer lemon souffle served with crispy sopapillas, like little roly-poly doughnut holes. Topped with a singed meringue and accompanied by a warm sweet, slightly acidic raspberry-pomegranate compote, it was zingy and creamy.
While not all dishes were successes, the menu is a fun way to explore the other end of the animal.