By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
What do you get when you cross the peppery-citrusy flavors of regional Yucatan cuisine with the smoky tastes of Argentine gaucho cookery?
If you’re lucky, the answer is Sylvestre Artz, an unpretentiously elegant meat house in Mexico City’s southern Colonia Pedregal where spicy Yucatan achiote and habanero chillies are fused with the vaporous earthiness of a Pampas asado.
Sylvestre Artz, which opened inside the stately Artz Pedregal shopping mall at the start of April, is the third in line of restaurant giant Grupo Hunan’s ventures into Yucatan-Argentine fusion cuisine.
The first Sylvestre was opened back in 2015 in Mexico City’s upscale Colonia Polanco, and, after it proved to be a raving success, its first spinoff was launched in Colonia Santa Fe. (Rumor has it a fourth Sylvestre will open in Interlomas later this year.)
But the new 300-seat-capacity Sylvestre Artz (about five times larger than the originalSylvestre) is definitely the result of a careful tweaking of what was in 2015 a daring venture into unchartered culinary territory.
Designed by Mexican architect Santiago Cuaik, the open-air, plant-laden interior and exterior terraza of Sylvestre Artz have a definite outdoorsy feel, imparting an instant atmosphere of relaxed casualness despite the gracefully linened tables and sophisticated library décor.
In each of the two dining areas, there is a stunning, wall-to-wall, mango-truck bar made from Veracruz driftwood that is believed to be over 150 years old.
(And with bars like that, it is no surprise that the restaurant also has an impressive mixology menu, the house special being a cinnamon-smoked bourbon and Angostura bitters cocktail that is tasty but packs a wallop.)
Sylvestre Artz’ menu is ample, with plenty of soups, salads and other appetizers to choose from (I highly recommend the chipotle shrimp tacos with grilled banana slices), but it is unquestionably the meat that is the main attraction at Sylvestre Artz.
Slow-cooked over a giant stainless steel Argentine-style asado pit fed by fresh-burning wood and then sealed to keep in the juices over a charcoal grill, the cuts – all prime beef imported from the United States – run the gamut from a dainty ojo de bife (ribeye center) to a massive tomahawk steak that can easily feed three.
Those with an adventurous palate will want to try the wild boar tacos, marinated for three days and then grilled at least four hours over the Argentine asado pit.
The garnishes carte has something for everyone, from soufflé puffed potatoes and grilled vegetables to oven-baked broccoli and creamed spinach.
And if you have a hankering for something that is quintessentially Argentine or prototypically Yucatan, there are four types of empanadas (including humita empanadas, filled with melted cheese and corn kernels) and cochinito pipil tacos.
Although meat may be king at Sylvestre Artz, those who prefer seafood will not be disappointed.
The salted seabass and braised octopus are both guaranteed winners, and the fresh tuna steak in a pistachio crust is sure to please.
Sylvestre Artz has a respectable wine cellar (albeit not very extensive), with a good selection of both Argentine and Mexican vintages, with token bottles of Spanish, French, Italian and California wines thrown in for good measure.
Should you still have room for dessert, Sylvestre Artz offers a selection of both Argentine (think alfajores) and Mexican favorites (like home-style corn cakes), as well as a few unexpected items, such as red fruit yogurt ice cream.
Sylvestre Artz is located on the ground floor of the Artz Pedregal shopping center at Periférico Sur 3720 om Jardines del Pedregal (telephone: 5929-3384 and 5929-3363).
It is open Monday through Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 1.30 a.m., and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Reservations are highly recommended.