Oyamel: Fine Dining-Mexican in DC

For the past four years, I had not really been to a good Mexican restaurant as I was mostly spending time in India and for some inexplicable reason finding a good Mexican food in any of the Indian cities is impossible. One mostly gets very insipid food – spicy but not without any subtlety and real authenticity. So, I was quite looking forward to visiting this relatively new Mexican restaurant in Washington DC, USA.
The experience was a mixed one. THe first time I visited with a friend from Delhi on a visit to USA. We went there for a lunch on weekend, yet, the place was packed. Started out with a Bloody Mary – i asked them to make it extra spicy and was not disappointed with what we goo_exteriorentryt. The first course was getting Guacamole. They make it right next to your table and it is a bit of production. The taste was excellent, although, I would say that chips and salsa that accompanied them were so-so, not the best I have had in Mexico or in California.

The lunch menu had couple of authentic dishes not generally offered in USA is for ones with stout heart. For instance,   the legendary Oaxacan specialty, Chapulines, is sautéed grasshoppers, shallots, tequila and guacamole. Unlikely that I can persuade my guest from India to go for that, we settled for dishes that were recommended by our server. Both the ones we ordered turned out to be great. Shrimp with shallots, árbol chile, poblano pepper, line and sweet aged black garlic was fabulous. The quesadilla with cheese and corn truffle was pretty good as well. Overall, I would give 5* out of 5 to the lunch experience I had.

Alas! the next outing to the restaurant was an entirely different experience. I would rate the experience as 2* on the scale of 5. I went there with my wife for a dinner on weekday – middle of the week. Although we had a reservation, the server tried to seat us at a bar stool in one corner of the restaurant. On my protest, she re-seated us to a table claiming she did not realize we had a reservation. We ordered any two margritas and gucamole and for main dishes queso de fandido and chicken mole poblano. The taste of Guacamole was on par with what I had before, although this time it took a long time for any server to show up to make the dish. The drinks that we had ordered came after we had almost finished eating the first main dish. Both main dishes were not served simultaneously, either. Mole sauce was rather inspid and chicken had not been adequately marinated so tasted rather bland. Queso Fandido had a good taste and would have been great if it was not served so cold. It looked like server left it on the counter for 5-10 minutes after being prepared. The noise level was so high, we could hardly communicate with each other. Overall, it was a big disappointment. Would I go there again? Perhaps, I will give it one more shot after the memory of my last dinner has faded. Perhaps in 3-4 months time.


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