Let me tell you a secret about Hencho’s Chef’s Menu / Tasting Menu: Its the perfect place for someone to go who is gluten free, wants to experience authentic Mexican food, and enjoys interacting with Chef. In other words – its one of the few places in NYC that you can actually speak to the cooks while you are eating.
You are seated at a counter that surrounds the cooks who are actively preparing everyone’s meal. Its you, face to face with her asking for a gluten free meal. The lead in the kitchen that night was affable beyond belief when I gently reminded her that something came out that I could not eat (this only happened for me with desert). She easily glided to another selection.
This personal connection really made the meal for me. I didn’t feel uncomfortable like I do at times when something comes out from the kitchen “wrong.” SURE – The menu from the start is about 95% perfect most nights. The amount of modifications during my dinner were precisely 2 small changes (removing a crisp cookie on top of the desert and not breading one piece of fish) out of 6 courses. But, it was great to have this connection and be in the flow of the food as it came to me.
The first course was amazing cold salad with perserved peppers, thinly sliced fresh mozerella, avocado, and finished with a delicate and very light cream sauce. I enjoyed this course and most others with the Txakolina which is a basque wine that worked will with all of the dishes for the most part. At the end I should have steered to something heavier.
The second course was a combination of shrimp, roasted red peppers, octopus, and beans. The sauce was very light and the whole thing came together in an exceptional way. It felt like there was tomatillos in the sauce and perhaps a slight addition of beans.
The fourth course was the first sign of a change – my husband eats gluten so his came out crispy while my fish was simply broiled. It didn’t matter. The black bass with set in a sauce of lentils with intense flavors of cumin and other spices. Carmelized onions and mushrooms also served as a base.
Final course was a treat - I do not like anything MUSHY. So instead of the flan dish they brought out a flourless chocolate cake. :–) I will return to enjoy the carmel, hazelnuts and fudge they added to the dish. It was amazing.
Make your reservation here: http://www.hechoendumbo.com/
Neighborhood: East Village
Address: 354 Bowery