By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Call it haute cuisine mexicaine au désinvolte or Abuelita’s home-style cooking with a contemporary artisan twist, but regardless of how you define the gastronomy at the new Aida’s Café, it is a happy marriage between comfort food and fine dining.
The latest addition to Mexico’s Grupo Hunan restaurant group (think Hunan Nobu, Guadiana, Nueve Nueve, Penny Lane, Negroni and Sylvestre), Aida Café is casual dining for the well-heeled.
Located in the middle of the exclusive non-plebe Vía Santa Fe section of the Centro Comercial Santa Fe, right in front of Casa Palacio, this is a place where the capital’s elite can go and let their hair down.
The décor of Aida Café is informal and understated, with Ikea-style furnishings and plenty of greenery to give it the feel of an open terraza, even though it is inside a shopping mall.
As for the menu, the recipes are composed of old Mexican favorite ingredients prepared in unexpected ways.
A traditional chile relleno is stuffed not with manchego cheese, but with a blend of fideo seco pasta, avocado and refried beans.
A classic grilled bass fillet is jazzed up with a splash of lemon and a tangy ginger sauce.
And a sliced beef carpaccio is given a gourmet touch by adding beet slivers and arugula.
All of the recipes were created by Mexican chef Ana Martorell of Aromas fame, and there is no denying their Mexican pedigree, although there are definitely items with European and Asian influences on the menu, such as foie gras ravioli in a saffron and parmesan sauce, and beef filet with morilla and shitake mushrooms.
Open only for breakfast and lunch, Aida Café has dispensed with the formalities of elaborate presentations and over-the-top garnishes.
Most main dishes are served with a simple portion of grilled baby carrots and Brussel sprouts.
Reflecting Martorell’s renowned fetish for chocolate, the star of the dessert menu is homemade cocoa ice cream shaved at the table from a giant frozen cone and topped with a sumptuous chocolate and praline sauce.
Despite its exclusive location, the prices at Aida are not excessive, although they are certainly higher than those at a traditional Mexican posada.
The restaurant tends to fill up pretty fast, both for breakfast and lunch, so reservations are highly advised.
Aida Café is located inside Vía Santa Fe at Vasco de Quiroga 3800 in Santa Fe (tel: 2167 -8614 and 2167-8615)
It is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All major credit cards are accepted.