Friday, December 18, 2009

El Contramar For Lunch - Mexico City Journal

My friend Jeff has been telling me about this restaurant for ages so I was very excited to be able to finally get a chance to eat here. Contramar is all a buzz with sophisticated, fashionable, wealthy Mexican business people.

Interestingly all the four places I've eaten at that are: "must-eat-at-fancy-restaurants" none of them where in the least bit touristy (as far as I could see).

None of them: Primos, El Cardenal, La Tecla and El Contramar had a soul working for them who could spoke a lick of English. In the case of the last three they had marginally English menus, which in reality are a mix of some English and then a blurb or some specials that are in Spanish. I also noticed (as I insisted on looking at both English and Spanish menu's) that there always seemed to be things on the Spanish menu not on the English. The names of the dishes are always in Spanish, the description is English, so you end up either badly pronouncing what you want in Spanish or pointing.

This is frustrating for me because I just want to be able to speak better Spanish, motivation for me to go home and sign up for a class, but more so it's a testament to how even though American pop and corporate culture infiltrates every second of Mexican life, they remain aloof and steadfastly dedicated to their cultural heritage. It certainly isn't easy, especially given corporate American's insistence on homoganizing all cultures in order to increase their market share and make sure their products has a place. Coke, a GMO corn syrup product is insanely popular here, never in my life have I seen so many people at a fancy restaurant order Coke as their drink of choice.

Hand in hand with Coke is the upsetting case of Monsanto (again) who have basically invaded Mexico and ruined it's traditional corn cultural (see my Museo Nacional de Anthropolgia corn rant).

El Contramar was the first place I ate at that whose menu was not so predominately Mexican, for example they had pasta with tomato and basil (I thought of you Neil) and simple cold seafood platters on ice. Promos also had steak frite and other international items, in a way Primos is the least Mexican of any of the four restaurants.

I do find the preponderance of tuna and to a lesser extent salmon on the menus here a little upsetting from an enviornmental point of view. The salmon is all farmed and I wonder why it is in a country that has two coasts they feel the need to import farmed salmon (duh, it's cheap). Tuna is just over fished and certainly unless a miracle happens Blue Fin Tuna will be extinct within the next few years. I assume the tuna being used at Contramar is yellow fin or other less precious tuna, running a seafood restaurant at this point in history isn't easy, given the desperate state of the world's seas.


My meal at El Contramar an appetizer, main course, beer, coffee was 305 pesos plus a 50 peso tip so 355 which is $27.64 a fraction of the cost at a similar restaurant in NYC.

The other thing to know about Contramar, other then it's fabulous and you should go if you are ever in Mexico City, is that they aren't open for dinner. Yes, you read that correctly they stop serving around 5:30 or 6. It's the ulitmate slap in the face to the Spanish invaders whose restaurants don't even open for dinner until 8:30 that Mexico is a culture of early eaters. The main meal of the day is in the afternoon.


Kurt Brown said...

I had no idea about the "closing at 6" thing! Neato.

Oh, can you make your camera linger just a wee bit longer in places like this were the wait staff look quite, er... hot? Thanks :)

CB&SW in AVL said...

What is interesting, Mexican cokes are still made with cane sugar, unless things have changed in their domestic production. Here, north of the border, folks go to local tiendas to buy coke imported from Mexico, insisting the cane sugar makes a big difference.

Urban Food Guy said...

hey thanks for the heads up about the sugar in Coke I checked it out and yeah it's the real deal here. Which is good cuz it ain't gmo high fructose corn syrup, but still not so good cuz they drink it instead of water!

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