Mr. Pollo chef now doing a pop-up [SF]
Manny Torres Giminez, the chef/proprietor of Mr. Pollo, is now doing pop-ups a couple doors down at Roxy's Cafe. Mr. Pollo is still open and running but Manny himself is over at Roxy's doing a pop-up there. Noticed it as I was walking back from grabbing a soda at the Fizzary.
After several failed attempts to get into Mr. Pollo the past couple years, decided to take advantage of the opportunity and stopped in. Had a $20 four course meal with butternut squash soup, salad, bolognese pasta, and pumpkin ravioli in brown butter sauce. Everything was pretty good. Seems that he's using the pop-up to experiment with doing new things, given the Italian slant of the dishes.
He says he'll be there Mon-Sat for lunch and dinner doing what he's doing.
Had the four course a couple of days ago with my wife. It included carrot soup with coconut milk, baby kale and arugla salad with a creamy dressing and fruits, a ravioli-like pasta stuffed with squash finished with brown butter, and house made fettucine bolognese. Everything was good.
We added the $10 dessert. When asked what the dessert was, the server's nondescript answer of "chef's special" amused or frustrated the diners next to our table. It consisted of ice cream, sorbet, a small cheese arepa, and some strawberries with a cream like sauce. I believe the ice cream was guanabana, and the sorbet was another fruit more common in Latin America, somewhat similar to a raspberry flavor. Happy to have shared one.
Portions are not big, but with the last pasta dish, I think the meal is a little more substantial than the one we had at Mr. Pollo in the past. Of course, we still walked over to have a couple of al pastor tacos at Tacqueria San Jose afterwards. A table nearby seeminly had the 10 course; for the dishes that we got, it looks like they had the same portion size, and they finished with everyone getting one of those dessert specials.
The head chef didn't seem to be in that day, but we recognized one of the cooks from the Mr. Pollo days. When one of the three cooks presented the dishes, they would give a more complete description; when the female hostess/server did, the description was usually shorter. The space is bigger and slightly more comfortable than Mr. Pollo. I'm not sure the kitchen has a vent system, so the smell of food cooking is prevalant in the restaurant. We will probably be back for the 10 course. BYOB, no corkage.
The 4-course at Roxy's is $25. He also offers two ala carte items--- $10 for two arepas and $10 for pasta bolognese. He also has a 10 course menu for $75.
The 4 courses we had tonight were fantastic. It included an creamy arugula soup, mizuna and citrus, pasta bolognese, and yuca gnocchi with mushrooms. The yuca gnocchi were the best gnocchi I've ever eaten--- light and airy, but with a firm structure. I think the pasta for the bolognese was hand rolled. In any case, it was fresh and had a nice chew.
Great arepas too. One was filled with cheese and the other with some sort of ham.
One cool new feature of the restaurant is that he's taking reservations via text message.
re: Ruth Lafler
Glad to see they're a permanent fixture of Destino's menu-- I was impressed by them during Dine About Town a few years back. I never order restaurant gnocchi since they so often disappoint, so I was glad a friend had the foresight to get them!
Gnocchi can get leaden from too much flour or overworking. Glueyness, provided the dough isn't overworked, might actually benefit gnocchi by requiring less flour to be added to the mix. The NYTimes has a gnocchi recipe that I really like that mixes potato and taro (we're talking glue city...). Pushing the roots through a spaetzle press gives an awesome gnocchi dough, through a drum sieve a gluey mess. Next person in should ask about his technique.