Having had, let’s say, more than a few problems getting along with one partner in my life, I can’t imagine having eight. But there’s a group of nine guys, equal partners, in San Miguel de Allende, who, working together, are building a very appealing restaurant.
The restaurant is called Mi Bistro 300 and the most important word in that name is the first one. For each of those nine guys seem extremely proud that this is my restaurant. Forget too, about that “too many cooks” line. The nine partners seem to be working seamlessly, moving from responsibilities in the kitchen to the dining room, to the bar, to the office, to the market, and back to the kitchen again.
The word I was most intrigued by in the name of the restaurant was the last one. “What’s the significance of the number 300”, I asked one of the partners, Miguel Torres.
“Well I think we’ve worked in at least 250, probably more restaurants in our lifetimes”, said Miguel. “This one is somewhere around the three hundredth. This one is different though. This one isn’t for someone else. This one is for the workers. This one is for us.”
Formerly someone’s home, the nine partners really built the restaurant from the ground up.
“We were the construction crew”, said Miguel Torres, as he spread his arms, to show the vast expanse of the terrace. “We built it all ourselves.”
The partners all met working in the restaurant biz in Mexico City. And they all still live there, all taking at least one day off each week to commute back and see their family (which is why there are only seven in the photo). I can’t name a single one of those 299 or so restaurants that the partners worked in but there was obviously considerable exposure to Asian cuisine and seafood, particularly the kind prepared raw or close to it.
The gentlemen who lunch ate at Mi Bistro 300 recently with a meal that focused on my favorite thing to eat at the restaurant, the tacos and tostados. Three of the five tacos and four of the five tostadas on the menu feature the bounties of the sea. Each order has three to a plate and they’re best shared with others so you can sample as many as possible.
It’s hard to pick a favorite tostada but, if I had to, it would be the tuna. It’s a dish that is particularly appealing to sushi fans (or fanatics, like me). A good size chunk of raw yellowfin is topped with a wedge of avocado, and crispy potato strips.
If I had to pick a second favorite tostada, I’d take the camaron. It’s very similar to a shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce, tomato, onion and coriander.
In third place among the tostadas would be the octopus. The almost melt in your mouth tentacles are lightly pickled and dressed with carrots, mild peppers and green onions.
Between the tostadas and the upcoming tacos at the gentlemen’s lunch was something to wash our palates.
“To me, the real highlight was the soup. That soup was fabulous,” said Peter Ross. “That soup” was actually fairly simple. And a flavor you don’t see much on menus anymore. Tomato. But not just tomato, oven roasted tomato that gave the soup a depth far beyond a traditional tomato soup. There was a slice of Manchego cheese on top but not a trace of cream in the broth. “That soup and just a grilled cheese sandwich would make me one happy man”, said Malcolm Nickerson.
Following the soup came the tacos.
Now I’ve never quite joined the legion of fish taco lovers in Mexico. Because I’ve never quite understood why people want their fish wrapped in batter and wrapped again in a tortilla. Which is one of the reasons I like Mi Bistro 300’s fish taco. There’s no batter on the charred on the outside, moist on the inside pescado sierra, a fish in the mackerel family. Plus there’s one of my favorite sauces on top, a sauce that’s hard to find in San Miguel. It’s called talla and combines guajillo, morita and ancho chiles. Plus there’s a crowning touch, a few rings of lightly pickled onions.
The prime rib taco is a move from sea to land. The beef has been chopped then browned, offering a nice contrast with the freshness of the diced raw tomatoes, green bell peppers and onions.
It seems that no matter what the topping or filling, every tostado, every taco has something a little out of the ordinary, a little different. As Walter Lewis said, “They’re so imaginative with all of their ingredients.”
Still to come at the gentlemen’s lunch was dessert. Now some of the best desserts are the most simple desserts. But a simple sponge cake isn’t exactly something I get excited about. Mi Bistro 300’s sponge cake is so light, so fluffy, so flavorful though that it brought the words, “This is extraordinary” to Gary Cook’s lips.
The second dessert was also a refreshing change. I’ve had a few too many overly sweet key lime pies lately so the tart, citric bite of Mi Bistro 300’s version was especially welcomed.
I’ve been to Mi Bistro 300 four times already this year. Which is more times than any other restaurant in San Miguel. Which obviously tells you how much I like it. The extensive sampling we did at the gentlemen’s lunch was just a small taste of the entire menu, plus there’s a totally separate breakfast offering. I have plans to further explore it again next week. I’ll leave you with the last words of one of the guys who joined me there last week.
“I think this is the best lunch you’ve ever organized,” said Cliff Avant. “I can’t wait to bring Sally.”
The next night Cliff and Sally Avant ate dinner at Mi Bistro 300.
Mi Bistro 300 is located at Quebrada #18D in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.