Photo: Cachava

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

When it comes to steakhouses, there’s only one issue that really matters, and that’s the beef.

Sure, a nice setting, good service and tasty accompaniments can be great, but if the meat isn’t exceptional, the whole dining experience just isn’t going to cut the mustard.

Photo: Cachava

And with that in mind, the smart folks at the Cachava steakhouse in Colonia Bosques de las Lomas put their meat front and center, offering the very best of USDA prime angus beef cuts, dry-aged and cooked to perfection on a sizzling grill along with an entire unhusked garlic, rosemary sprigs and freshly ground black pepper. The three-page menu — two pages of which are dedicated exclusively to meat options — also offers four cuts of Australian wagyu: picaña (sirloin rump steak), ribeye, New York steak and hamburger (if hamburger meat can be called a cut).

But I am a Texas girl, and in my books, you can’t do much better than dry-aged USDA prime angus beef, so I was happy to settle for the angus rump steak.

As I said, the meat at Cachava is the star attraction, and it certainly did not disappoint when I went last week.

In fact, the meat was sublime.

Photo: Cachava

The menu — made to accommodate those foreigners who may not be familiar with Mexican cuts as opposed to their U.S or European equivalents, as well as those of us who are carnivorously ignorant when it comes to coupes de viande — has full pictures of cows with arrows pointing to what part of the animal the cut comes from, making it easy to order exactly what you want.

You can take your pick of a picaña, chateaubriand, porterhouse, cowboy or New York strip (or an angus burger).

There are also pictures of a suckling pig (pointing to its side and offering smoked baby back ribs smothering in habanero barbecue sauce) and a sheep offering a rack of lamb.

Photo: Cachava

But going back to the matter of décor and accompaniments.

The meat at Cachava definitely steals that show, but while it may be the main event, the restaurant certainly doesn’t loose brownie points on interior design or side dishes and starters. Cachava — named after a thoroughbred mare of pure native American descent that won the Triple Crown in the 1960s — is both inviting and elegant, with a selection of dining rooms to choose from, including a the-gang’s-all-here, party-hardy, semi-open-air terraza with a metallic fired strip in the middle to a sedate, inside salon with long, linen table clothes to a spacious private dining hall upstairs for events.

The decoration is bold, but not overwhelming, with plenty of natural greenery, subtle touches of rustic ornamentation (like bull’s skulls and tanned lambskins) and plush leather seats that are as comfortable as they are beautiful.

In keeping with its wide-open-spaces-of-a-cattle-ranch theme, the tables are all well spaced so that even in the midst of a full house attendance, there is a sense of privacy.

As for the service at Cachava, it was impeccable.

Photo: Cachava

When it comes to accompaniments, Cachava doesn’t hold back on excellence. There are only 29 non-meat items on the menu, but even with this pared-down selection, it was hard to choose what to order.

For starters, we had slivers of raw kampachi filet in a chillie oil and ponzu marinade that was superb, and an even more delicious octopus carpaccio with a habanero pepper and smoky, burnt tatemada sauce. Sheer culinary ecstasy! Alas, the stone crab in clarified butter, the kumamoto oysters on the half-shell and the Rockefeller oysters with aged brie cheese had to wait for another visit, not to mention the shaved abalone in chipotle sauce.

Next up was the shared dish, a wood-grilled whole cauliflower with eggplant slices, crumbled feta cheese and crispy onion sprinklings, which was devoured in a matter of minutes by the three of us at the table. (Frankly, I was more inclined to order the grilled artichoke with parmesan cheese and carbonara sauce, but got out-voted. Another item to try next time.)

Photo: Cachava

If you are hard-pushed to not order meat at Cachava (and hey, if you are, you came to the wrong place), there are four fish options on the menu: the catch of the day, grilled to taste; a Norwegian salmon filet basted in maple syrup; garlic shrimp; and red snapper, also prepared to taste. Granted, they all sounded enticing, but Cachava is, after all, a steakhouse, so picaña it was! To accompany our meat course, we had a crispy fried kale salad (I am no fan of kale, but this was very good) and a super-creamy, super-cheesy baked mashed potatoes dish that was pure gooey deliciousness.

As hard as it may seem to believe after all that, we still managed to have room for dessert, which ended up being a slice of corn pound cake topped with caramel ice cream and chopped peanuts, shared by the three of us.

The cake and caramel ice cream were unexpectedly light and not saccharine-sweet (as is commonly the case with Mexican desserts), so we all enjoyed it immensely.

Photo: Cachava

And as an added treat, the chef sent us a tiny portion of lime and tequila sorbet crowned with maguey worm salt to clean our palates — the perfect finalé to a totally scrumptious meal at what might just be Mexico’s premiere steakhouse.

MORE INFORMATION

Cachava is located inside the Pantalones shopping mall, at Calle Paseo de los Tamarindos 90, in Mexico City’s Paseo Arcos Bosques (telephone: 55-6843-3373). It is open daily for lunch and dinner from 1:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., except on Sundays, when it closes at 6 p.m. Parking is available inside the shopping mall and all major credit cards are accepted. Reservations are highly advised since the restaurant is almost always at full capacity.

 

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