Móle opened on the Upper East Side in March and on each of my three visits it has been packed. It’s easy to see why. The fourth in a chain of Móle eateries, it is owned by a husband-and-wife duo, offers regional Mexican dishes, many from original family recipes. Executive Chef Guadalupe Elizalde is known for her red and green mole, while her mother is famous for supplying vats of dark delicious brown mole from her home kitchen in Mexico City. Husband Nick Cervera presides over the business, designed the hand built dining room, including its Mexican-tiled 17-foot bar and Guacamole Station. He is also in charge of its extensive selection of 100-plus tequilas and mescals, and when the joint is jumping – as it does most nights — is a very active presence in the kitchen and dining room. This Móle is their largest location (and across the street from the now defunct Taco Taco, which they owned and ran for over 20 years) and they’ve poured their years of experience into its setting and menu to create a lovely looking restaurant that caters both to the casual as well as the more sophisticated Mexican food aficionado.
Everyone loves Móle’s chili-salt rimmed Margarita and the super fresh Guacamole hand made to your degree of spiciness at the Guacamole station in a beautiful Mexican mortar, a molcajete made from volcanic rock.
Our Tasting Menu, courtesy of Móle, featured some outstanding dishes, beginning with their Ceviche de Robalo. If you love ceviche, as I do, this was an excellent version, with a nice lime and cilantro zing tempered with the mellowness of avocado. A teaspoon of the ceviche on a crisp Mole chip created a perfect ying-yang experience.
Next came one of my favorite dishes of the evening, Sopa de Elote, a creamy (though no cream is used), complex corn and fire roasted poblano soup with strips of Tortilla on top. The poblano chili gives it a bit of spice. I could lap this soup up all day. Vegetarians could start their meal with the soup and then follow it up with Móle’s crunchy Crepas Con Huitlacoche, two homemade crepes with black corn mushrooms (huitlacoche is a kind of corn fungus) in Guadalupe’s creamy green poblano sauce. Beautiful to behold, it’s also delicious.
Meat eaters, on the other hand, will love the Mixiote de Cordero, lamb shank wrapped in parchment and baked for hours, with guajillo sauce, a type of dried chili, a specialty of the Hidalgo region. And then there is the fabulous Enchilada de Móle Poblano. I was looking forward to mother Emilia’s home-made mole all evening – a true test of any serious Mexican restaurant — and it did not disappoint. It’s a dense, chocolaty mole with a wonderful chili afterglow. Combined with grilled pork chops marinated in fresh lime and ancho chili, it can also be ordered in the more traditional manner, over chicken. I would come back just for the Móle Poblano.
For those who wouldn’t think of ordering dessert in a Mexican restaurant – like me — think again. The deserts are exceptional. Guadalupe’s sister is the pastry chef and each of her three creations — Flan, Belgian Chocolate Cake and Tres Leches cake – was outstanding. Some preferred the Flan, others the Chocolate Cake, but my favorite was the moist, light, Tres Leches, a sponge cake soaked in three types of milk, redolent of vanilla and topped with whipped cream. It melts in your mouth.
As a very special treat we finished off the meal with a unique after dinner drink, Riazul Anejo, agave tequila aged for two years in French cognac barrels. In fact, it tasted more like a fine, smooth cognac than a tequila. I thought it was remarkable. A totally new product, which received a 96.00 rating in Wine Enthusiast, it is just being introduced into the market. Go to www.riazul.com to find out where it can be purchased or, better yet, come to Móle and try it out for yourself. The restaurant is open almost round the clock.
Happy Hour reigns from 4PM to 7PM, seven days a week. Lunch is served from Noon to 4PM Monday through Friday, and Brunch from 11 AM to 4 PM Saturday and Sunday. Dinner runs from 4 to 11 PM Sunday through Thursday, and to Midnight, Friday and Saturday. And if the music gets too loud, which occasionally it does, tell them to turn it down, and they actually will.
Photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag
MÓLE Cantina Mexicana
1735 2nd Avenue (Between 89th and 90th)