Adventures in Latino Dim Sum Brunch: Cafe Atlantico

16 Jun

Recently I went to a regular ol’ Sunday brunch with my mother and small brother. We had all the traditional fixins: foie gras soup, pork belly, a little eel. Ok. Maybe not so traditional. But all part of the Latino Dim Sum brunching experience at Cafe Atlantico. (Warning: picky eaters need not proceed).

Jose Andres’ dim sum experience is like traditional Chinese dim sum, a mishmash of  small plates and tastes, only his transports you to Mexico. Being new to the Atlantico version we went with the chefs tasting menu, fourteen mini courses of his choosing… and then if we were still hungry extra rounds of whatever we liked.

The first few dishes are mostly one bite dishes: tiny oysters that taste like the ocean, tuna tartar accented with coconut and mango-anchovy ravioli that is surprisingly tasty.Then came one of my favorite guilty pleasures to come out of a Jose Andres kitchen: fritters with a liquid conch center. You bite in and its creamy conchy goodness pours into your mouth with a tasty surprise, the fritters also harbor bacon. Yes, please.

Bitsy Brunch Bites

Next up: soup. We get two shooters, the first an extra thick potato vanilla mousse that I found to be overwhelmingly rich until I found the caviar at the bottom, which balanced it out nicely. Then came the dish that befuddled even this adventurous eater: hot and cold foie gras and corn soup? Simply too odd to be tasty.

Tasty on the right, Bizarre on the left

The next plates to emerge were portioned more like mini entrées. Highlights included a fried egg over black beans and pork that I would be happy to have after any boozy Saturday night, and the famed ‘egg 63’ where the egg is cooked low and slow so that when you break into it, it immediately dissolves into a creamy sauce over the mushrooms served below. My favorite was the carne asada, grilled skirt steak charred on the outside, juicy on the inside and all around delicious. To cap off the tasting we were served a sweet ending: pan dulce with cinnamon syrup, a french toast like concoction that even a family of trench toast haters dug into.

Among the hits of the menu there were a few misses, bites of pineapple unagi went untouched and pork belly was hard to manage in the morning, but these misses just left us with a little extra room to order more of our favorites at the end of the meal.

I’ll take the conch fritters.

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