MXDC is the new offering to Washington DC from Todd English. It is a sleek sharp looking downtown restaurant, the real question is that what the future for this stylish Mexican restaurant?
When you look at the menu, you are instantly drawn to the guacamole MXDC offers quite a few different styles a crab, Azul (blue cheese and bacon), last a corn and lobster. I was instantly let down when the first one I ordered hit the table. The corn and lobster was just scooped on top of the guacamole. Overall it does add a new flavor to the guacamole, I wish it was folded or blended in with the guacamole. The other thing that was consistent issue, the time it took for the specialty drinks to reach the table. Every time I dined at MXDC appetizers were able to arrive before the specialty drinks. My final issue was the lighting it is a little dark at dinner time, in MXDC it seems a little uninviting. In the right light the wood and bronze chandlers have a charm and pop to them that invites you in! Even if it is sharp and edgy it is a styling that say modern.
Once the Cocktails did arrive you will have your spirits lifted. The Baja Breeze is the shining star a gin cocktail none the less. It gives you a refreshing taste with the cucumber water and lime juice. The Cocoa Picante was impressive the Tanteo cocoa Tequila (a chocolate tequila) enhanced by a jalapeño water, sweetened by Cointreau and agave with a touch of lime. I appreciate this cocktail for the art embodies the citrus, spice and then smoothness of the cocoa. The cocktail menu as a whole is great example of what MXDC could off the busy downtown area at happy hour.
The brightest star on the food side are the tacos. No we are not talking beef and chicken drowned in lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Instead It was pork belly, Pulpo (octopus), duck, Hongos (a veggie style), Mahi Mahi and so on. The great part was the simplicity allowing for the fresh ingredients to stand out. The Pulpo (octopus) is grilled placed on a warm corn tortilla with cilantro jalapeño pesto, pickled onion and avocado. It was my personal favorite. The pork belly was enticing, the Mahi Mahi was a fish taco to be proud of with it sweet and spicy balance. The only let down on out of the whole group was the duck a tad too much salt I thought both times I had it. After that all tacos shined exceptionally well!!!
The MX Paella is absolutely great and if you are less than four will be taking some home. Generous amounts of shrimp lobster and chicken I did not find much of the pork belly in my share plate, I will chalk that up to good/bad luck. Ample amount of rice the saffron aioli was great and it was a wonderful dish to share. The Pollo Rostizado was also a star among this group. I was did not find the time to try the Seven Chile Lamb Shank, but I have confidence in the kitchens ability and look forward to find a reason to give it a try.
I was never tempted by the dessert menu and not one of my guest suggested we share one or two after looking at the menu. This is an area that the server has to be excited about the menu or you may skip it all together. I did have two of the desserts to get an idea of what they were like. First is the churros came out nice and warm and with a dulce sauce that was a great complement. The Tres Leches was amazing with a rosemary ascent in this delightful milk cake you will find yourself in full enjoyment. The best part is both of the desserts were not overly rich or sweet very well balenaced.
Service is a hard pressed issue for MXDC, because of the lack of other guest I felt under attended and found myself questioning their motive for being there. As a group they lacked the basic interaction you would like and by my 3rd visit I found myself not willing to give the server an opportunity to guide me through the menu as the other times server only responded when ask a direct question.
The bartenders were a little more forthcoming with information. They helped me pick out a drink and lead to me trying different tacos everytime I came in. At the table it was a little different I would hear how much they enjoyed my selection after making a selection. I would have much enjoyed hearing about the new food item before making a decision. The other complete fail on the server's side of the ball is when we order Mezcal and got no information on the accouterments the mezcals came with. The person I was dinning with enjoyed mezcals over tequilas and was as equally in the dark as I was. This was a chance to explain and give us a chance to experience something new and different at MXDC and it was lost.
The overall time spent at MXDC was enjoyable but not exceptional. I know the management team cares they went out of the way to make sure ever need was met. The server need to follow the lead and do the same. Food on the other hand was a more inviting experience at MXDC and was the reason not to just say I am done with this place. Chef Juan Carlos "JC" Pavlovich is more than able to carry the menu without the need for Todd English's name attached. The menu choices were all impressive and over the time of the visits you saw the kitchen getting more comfortable with the recipes. The service side needs to catch up with the kitchen, once it does MXDC could become a hot spot in the downtown market. Overall it was a slight let down from original expectations.