The owner, Mike Karns, whose Firebird Restaurant Group includes El Fenix and Meso Maya, has said Tulum is his favorite vacation spot and that he wanted to bring a bit of it back to the city.
But the region’s most glorious dish — cochinita pibil, pork marinated in earthy achiote and sour orange and cooked to spoon-tenderness in a banana leaf — isn’t even on the menu. Neither are the region’s seafood ceviches, save for a vegetarian version made with mushrooms. There is hardly a tortilla in sight.
Instead, chef Nico Sanchez has assembled a menu that ranges from middle-of-the-road steaks and scallops to creative Mexican dishes to what might even be called spa food. It is mostly good, if disjointed, as if he were cooking for a demanding private client.
Take a dish called avocado and French radish chips, a name that has you thinking of chips and guacamole. But what arrives is an airy mound of avocado mousse, piped onto the plate and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, surrounded by thinly sliced French breakfast radishes and triangles of crisp jicama bathed in citrus and serrano chile. Dip the vegetables into the avocado, and it’s addictive — more like a finger-food salad than the usual guac appetizer, both clever and delicious.