9 E 18th St
(between 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10003
Thanks to M.B., I was lucky enough to be invited to sample Rosa Mexicano’s new brunch and late night menu to be offered from February 23rd to March 10th (starts tomorrow!). I stepped out of work for about an hour and a half on a Tuesday morning and started off the day with a shot of tequila. Rosa Mexicano skips coffee.
I was then offered a chaser, a Chilled Horchata de Coco, which is a classic Mexican beverage made from pressed rice milk infused with coconut. The smooth and creamy flavor of coconut soothed my stomach from the tequila and prepared me for the rest of my meal. The aftertaste was subtly of sweet rice. Mr. Howard Greenstone, president and CEO of Rosa Mexicano, explained to us that they chose to add more sugar than typically added in traditional horchatas to better suit the palate of Americans. I appreciated his honesty. Truly. One of my pet peeves is when Chinese restaurants that clearly know they are not making Chinese food, market their food as “authentic.” There’s nothing wrong with a good regional twist.
Oh wait, before we got to the food, we were offered another tequila shot. This time with a Bloody Mary chaser. Alright Rosa, I see what you’re trying to do here…
First up, we sampled the Nopales con Huevo, or Soft Scrambled Eggs and Cactus Paddle served with fried pasilla chile and roasted peppers and a soft roll on the side with refried black beans. The eggs were good; soft and creamy, not the least bit overcooked. Though, there also wasn’t anything terribly unique about them. The pasilla chile should be a mild to medium hot, richly flavored chile, however, I could barely taste it.
Next, we had the Machacado con Huevo, or Shredded Beef with Eggs served with scrambled eggs, jalapeños, tomatoes, and onions, served with tortillas. Slightly more flavorful than the scrambled eggs with the cactus but still not tremendously interesting.
Our next course was the Mexico City Chilaquiles. Seared ham steak topped with scramble eggs, corn tortillas, and a creamy smokey chile sauce. This was probably my favorite dish from the meal. The sauce was smokey and limey at the same time, giving the creamy scrambled eggs that kick I had been looking for all morning.
This is the Huevos Fritos y Carnitas, or Fried eggs and Carnitas Hash, which featured traditional pork carnitas and ancho chile-potato hash topped with fried eggs and pineapple-habanero mustard jam. Carnitas could have been a little fattier, but otherwise this is a well-balanced dish with sweet and spicy flavors from the chile and pineapple-habanero.
Mezcal Bloody Maria. Think Bloody Mary but it’s evil twin sister. This was so strong and smokey that it could only be taken in small sips. I almost felt like I was drinking that Chipotle Tabasco sauce…
Torrejas de Miel Rellenas, or Stuffed French Toast. Cinnamon-Cascabel chile-crusted brioche bread filled with Mascarpone cheese, topped with caramelized plantains. Wow, what a mouthful with the description there. I was really excited for this because I love love love french toast. The brioche was soft and fluffy and peeled apart in beautiful layers. The caramelized plantains were chewy and sweet. Though, I didn’t taste any chile … which was disappointing. Nonetheless, still a great french toast.
Desayuno Tamal, or Creamy Breakfast Tamale topped with chile-poached eggs, fried Panela cheese and chorizo crumble. Looks more interesting than it tasted. I do love poached eggs though so I was a sucker for the perfectly cooked yolk.
Horchata Especial, which was a bit of Anejo tequila, coffee liquor, and horchata topped with espresso. This was my absolute favorite of the day. I could see myself coming to Rosa one day and asking if I could buy a cup to-go. It’s just like the creamy chilled horchata I had had earlier, but way… sexier. The especial’s shot of espresso tasted perfectly roasted and fragrant. The tequila gave the drink just a bit more of a kick to get your blood warmed up. Coffee liquor added a tinge of sweetness. Yum yum yum. I definitely want to come back for this.
The Huevos al Sarten, or Egg White Skillet Taco came last. It is a plate of scrambled egg whites with chile-infused tofu, jalapeño tomato, and cheese, served with soft corn tortillas. Probably the most disappointing dish on the menu. Chile-infused tofu?! I guess I’m biased because I’m from Sichuan, where Mapo Tofu comes from, but these little white cubes were as bland as tofu from the salad bar.
It looks like Mr. Howard Greenstone’s shpiel about catering to American tastes really guided their entire menu. Breakfast items tasted more American than Mexican; rather than serving a Mexican breakfast with American undertones, the menu is more of a classic American brunch with a Mexican twist. I personally prefer more flavor than the “typical American” palate, which is probably why I didn’t particularly love all the dishes as much as most New Yorkers would. Not to say that there isn’t enough on the menu for everyone. Next time I come for brunch, I will get the following:
- Mexico City Chilaquiles – smokey and flavorful
- Torrejas de Miel Rellenas (Stuffed French Toast) – incredibly fluffy brioche
- Coconut Horchata and/or Horchata Especial – yum.
I guarantee you’ll have a great balanced brunch with those items. A little heat and protein from the chilaquiles, obligatory sweet brunch item from the french toast, and a little kick for a fun start to a weekend from the Horchata especial. Gilt Groupe is currently offering a Sangria Brunch deal at Rosa that you should definitely check out if you want to sample some of these new items.