Living in the fancy-pants neighborhood of Polanco in Mexico City, we see loads of overpriced, trendy restaurants where the food tends to be sub-par. There are a few diamonds in the rough, but it is rare you can escape lunch (much less dinner) with a bill of <$200 pesos at any of the see-and-be-seen joints. These are the sorts of places where when I ask for bottled water to drink, they ask you what brand you would prefer (could anyone tell the difference??), and then bring out about 300ml of water for ~$3. *hate* Therefore, when a new chi-chi restaurant opens up in ‘Polancito’ (the area I call ‘downtown Polanco’, south of Masaryk between Anatole France & Alejandro Dumas), I am predisposed to just ignore it.
That said, when friend Heidi & I decided to have a girls’ dinner out last nite, we couldn’t be bothered to wander much farther than that very area. Heidi suggested a new restaurant called Brassi, and although I was slightly skeptical, the lure of its fun bistro decor was enough to lure us in.
We chose a table in the middle of the black-and-white checkerboard floor and sat down. After a waiter deposited our coats & purses onto one of the purse-trees that are de rigueur in Mexico City restaurants (bad luck -and foolish- to put your purse on the floor), I was shocked at what happened next. Another waiter arrived at our table holding what appeared to be an open, clear glass wine bottle filled with WATER & inquired if we would like some. He filled our glasses & left the big bottle of water on the table.
Now for any US folk reading this, this is not *remotely* novel. America is the land of free-flowing water, where any restaurant worth its salt will keep tasty tap water filling your glass as long as you keep slurping it down. Since drinking from the tap is not an option in Mexico, neither is chugging down as much water at dinner as your little dehydrated body might like– unless you want to pay more for bottles of water than for your entree.
Because of this, upon our water waiter’s departure from the table, I stared at Heidi with wide eyes & asked her, “Do you think this is free?? Do you think they will refill this if we drink it all???” We were both hopeful, but uncertain. I informed her that if the food was anything above ground squirrel meat, I would definitely be coming back SOLELY because of the option to drink as much water as I wanted.
As it turned out, the food was pretty good. She had tomato soup; I had the Brassi salad speckled with carmelized pecans & pears soaked in port in a honey mustard dressing. We shared an order of mac & cheese, which was slightly under-salted but well-presented in its own wee cast-iron skillet that had spent a few minutes under a broiler to crisp & brown the cheese on top. For dessert, we split the largest order of profiteroles I’ve seen for $58 pesos– 5 puffballs filled with vanilla ice cream & doused in melted chocolate. While I wouldn’t say the cuisine is breaking any new boundaries, I thought everything was tasty & well done; (we also saw sandwiches being whisked by accompanied by thin french fries that may merit a future try). Along with 3 glasses of pinot grigio & 3 rum/cokes, ourbill came to about $880 pesos– not exactly a fire sale, but quite reasonable for a tasty 3-course dinner for 2 plus that many drinks. Knock off the alcohol & you’re probably down to more like $400 pesos.
Anyway, the bill’s arrival most excited me because of what it lacked: a charge for WATER. We handily polished off 2 large bottles of the stuff and it was free! free! free!
John likes to refer to me as “the waterhorse” because of how much water I tend to drink when we go out to eat, so learning how to ration 330ml during a 2 hour meal as been a struggle for me here. But now, I am excited to report that there is at least ONE restaurant in Mexico City who seems to have figured out how to treat the water in order to dispense it liberally from a tap in the dining area. Rest assured that I will be back to visit Brassi, perhaps on a day where I have ingested no liquids whatsoever just so I can take full advantage of this perk.
Brassi: Virgilio 8 at the corner of Oscar Wilde in Polanco. http://brassi.com.mx/