By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Roma Bistrot is a small, unassuming boutique eatery situated off the Río de Janeiro Plaza in Mexico City’s fashionable Colonia Roma.
Opened last October, its objective is to offer quality French cuisine with a Caribbean twist, and, for the most part, it accomplishes that goal, although there are a couple of dishes on the menu that seem to miss the mark.
Décor-wise, Roma Bistro is extremely attractive, with a relaxed Rive Gauche appeal crammed into a very small space, surprisingly, without a cluttered feel.
The menu consists of mostly seafood items, although there are a few beef dishes (notably, a grilled ribeye steak with roasted potatoes in rosemary and béarnaise sauce) and a scrumptious but heavy pork shank smothered in red pepper vinaigrette and a blanket of melted Mimolette cheese (one of the house specials).
Both of these dishes are exceptional, but if you want to savor Caribbean influence, your best bet is to stick to the fish and seafood items.
The Accras de morue fish fritters – a traditional French-Caribbean favorite from the Guadalupe Archipelago – come with spicy curry and red pepper sauces and are a great appetizer.
They may, in fact, be the tastiest items on the menu, definitely worth asking for seconds since only six croquets come in the order and if you are sharing them in the center of the table, they may disappear before you get your fill.
The braised blue tuna tostado with avocado and habanero tatemado is both visually striking and extremely savory.
The same cannot be said, however, for Roma Bistro’s buffalo mozzarella and fried tomato and leek paste, which is an attempt to create a twist on the classic caprice salad that falls flat due to its blandness.
The Caribbean-style moros con cristianos bean-and-rice dish comes with a crispy soft crab on top and is delightfully delicious.
Desserts at Roma Bistro stand out because they are not overly sweet.
Chef Joaquín Cardoso, who designed the menu, decided to avoid using sugar altogether and instead let the natural sweetness of fresh fruit flavor his creations.
The coconut milk arroz con leche rice pudding is spectacular, and so are the guava and ice cream boats sailing in a sea of guava gelatin.
On the down side, the wait staff at Roma Bistro are not the friendliest, and service is definitely not the restaurant’s forte.
But the prices are very reasonable and there is a decent selection of wines by the glass.
Roma Bistrot is located at Plaza Río de Janeiro 52 in Colonia Roma Norte (tel: 7822-9800).
It is open for breakfast Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m. and for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday from 12 midnight, and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.