Tapas with a Mexican Twist at EL Catrin

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Watermelon Margarita

Anyone up for Mexican food? If so,  you are in for a treat.  I took my sister-law who is visiting from India to my favorite restaurant in Toronto: El Catrin, which is located at the Distillery District. This place isn’t your typical ooey gooey cheesy Mexican food fare. This place serves straight-up authentic flavors with a modern twist.

When we first arrived, there was a long line out the door. But luckily, it moved pretty quickly.

As we made it to the hostess podium, we opted to sit out-doors  since it was a summery day. Their patio décor had a rustic and charming-look which would transport you to another country. And the music would have you thinking you are in a Mexican villa.

They had some interesting drinks to start with. I ordered the Watermelon Fire ($10) which consisted of fresh chunks of watermelon, lime, and pureed watermelon. The rim of the glass was rolled in a mild Mexican spice which had a salted Cajun flavor. This drink had a sweet and salty taste which made my taste buds tingle. I thought I loved this, until I tried my sister in-law’s Watermelon Margarita ($11) which had Tromba Blanco blended with fresh watermelon and crushed ice. Very refreshing and a great thirst quencher. They have quite a wide selection of drinks.

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Next came the Crab fritters ($10) cooked in a silky mole red sauce drizzled with cool crema fresca and chopped papaya. The crab meat was moist and savory and nicely seasoned. However,  I didn’t get too much of the crab flavor. The mole sauce had a dark chocolate under note flavor with a little bit of heat, since it is after all made from peppers, but don’t let that scare you. The Crema Fresca mellows it out beautifully. This was a table favorite.

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Mexican style pork meatballs($15) came next. The presentation was elegant with 3 meatballs served on a white plate. The meat balls were cooked in chipotle and tomato sauce, toasted amaranth (a type of grain) and black bean puree. This dish had a little heat, but not too spicy. The thickness of the deep-fried tortilla helped balanced everything with it’s mild sweetness and cornmeal flavor, which had a crispy exterior and a dense chewy center. This had a hearty taco taste. This was mm-mm delicious. If  pork isn’t your thing,  they also have other options. Give this a try!

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Next was the Scallop Ceviches ($13). This dish was light and bright in flavor. The  habanero hot sauce gives it a little heat but not too much and the ginger, tarragon and  purple onion lends a refreshing, summery, taste.  And the scallops tasted like it came right out the sea. It is soft and buttery smooth on the palate.

At the end we were so full that we passed on dessert. There’s always a next time.

I must say everything that came out was top-notch. Yes, the prices are pretty steep, and the servings are a little small, but with the tapa-style food fare makes it a great place for a group gathering.

And the staff is very friendly.

Reservations: YES

Price: Expensive

Recommend: YES

http://www.elcatrin.ca/dinner

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