Dmercao Restaurante – Fine Dining in Sevilla, Spain
On a recent trip to the southern Spain food Mecca of Sevilla, my companions and I, all foodies, had the good fortune to sample some great dishes and try out a few top restaurants between tapas tastings. Dinner at Dmercao Restaurante, (http://dmercao.com/) a restaurant offering a modern slant (often Asian) on traditional Sevillan dishes, was definitely one of the better dining experiences of the trip. Here’s the menu and a breakdown of each course just to give you an idea what I’m talking about. (Sections in italics are from the degustation menu kindly provided by Dmercao.)
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Orange Salmorejo with cod fish pipirrana served with a homemade vermouth. (In my excitement getting seated and comfortable, my photos of the first two courses were out-of-focus and are not included here. Trust me. They were as beautiful as they were tasty.) Salmorejo is classic Andalusian soup, a cousin to gazpacho, but traditionally made with tomatoes as the main ingredient, with bread giving it a creamy texture without the cream. This was plated, if one could use that word, in a stemmed aperitif glass, and looked very inviting. This was made with oranges instead of tomatoes, but it was almost too sweet, as if the dessert were served first, and the accompanying vermouth-based sweet cocktail confirmed it. With so many riffs on gazpacho, do we really need an orange one? All that said (and it was) this beautiful and very tasty appetizer was a harbinger of the innovative dishes to come.
Foie ingot with goat cheese and hazelnut praline on top of cappuccino sand. All right! I love foie gras. This was arguably the best I’ve tasted, although a tad sweeter than I like, and definitely called the best by a companion, while others found it too rich or cruel for their taste. My description of a foie gras farm where the ducks came running to be force fed did nothing to dissuade the PETA sympathizers. The wine, Gongora, an Amontillado from Sevilla (All the wines were from Sevilla. Talk about local!) was an aged sherry, amber in color and very dry. It cut the richness of the foie gras, or what richness was left after the goat cheese and praline – yum!
Tenzuyu toasted noodles with pear alioli and king prawn tail. The toasted flavor of the fideo noodles (short thin pasta of Spain) coated in the Japanese dipping sauce, was excellent. The aioli only added richness and depth (Did I just say only?) to the prawns Andalusia is famous for. It was served with Viento en La Cara 80% Sauvignon Blanc 20% Palomino, from Sevilla. Viento is Spanish for wind. The wine lived up to the stunning graphics of the label’s windswept, long-haired beauty. For an inexpensive dry white with notes of citrus, it was perfect with the noodles and prawns.
Scallops with pancetta on top of citric carrot purée and sautéed green beans. I’ve always loved scallops, especially when they are not overcooked, which is often the case. These were perfect – almost not cooked – and with the pancetta, correctly moist. Topped with the black sesame seeds and the citrusy puree, they had a slightly Asian slant, fitting after the tenzuyu noodles. It was served with a Sevillan red called Borboleta, 90% Tempranillo, 4% Syrah. And if labels matter to you, the stylized butterfly on the label references the fact that Borboleta means butterfly in Portuguese. (It is too long a story why a Spanish wine has a Portuguese name, but Queen Isabella figures into it.) With a classic Spanish grape and a rich bouquet, but a decidedly young taste, this red was the one pairing miss of the evening.
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There was a moment between courses when some of my companions retreated to the exterior for a smoke. That gave me a chance to look around and think about the décor and how the food paired with it. You know, I talked about plating before. Now it is time to talk about plates. The rippled glass beauty under the next course is almost as stunning, but in a classier way, as the tight Moroccan pattern of the shallow bowl holding the prawn. The room was pretty, too, with the colorful Moorish and Spanish design elements as mixed as the city itself to give a real sense of place.
My only complaint was that the seating was so tight it was impossible to provide impeccable service. While that may sound small, the attention to detail in every other aspect of the restaurant, including the dinnerware, glasses, décor, food combinations, wines, and those already mentioned plates, made what could be normal service anywhere else, look . . . unpolished. Necessarily so – if my companions and I didn’t pass plates back and forth to the waitress, we could not have been served.
Fortunately, the smokers returned before any more negative ruminations and the Suckling pig confit cube, mango chutney and inflated wild rice was served. They had me with confit of suckling pig. Slow cooked, moist pork is my favorite. I know the hoops one jumps through for it to also have a crisp skin, so kudos to the chef for getting both right. The plate was beautiful and the food was beautifully plated on it, each component a design element perfectly placed. The roasted taste and texture of the puffed rice was the perfect yang to the crispy pork skin’s yin, and the fruit smoothed the richness of the meat. Served with Overo, also from Sevilla from the same vineyard as Viento En La Cara. This mature and complex red was the perfect foil for the pork. I love when pairings are so well done.
Rum and sugar cannelloni stuffed with pineapple yogurt ice cream and passion fruit cream. Spanish dinners with friends, especially very good Spanish dinners like this one, should be slowly savored. Alas, our schedule was so tight we were hurrying here. Tickets for the Flamenco Bienal are scarce and ours were most difficult to get. The theater was more than a half hour away, we had to hurry. Cabs were called and I tasted the rich fruity goodness of my dessert standing up. I swilled my cava like a peasant . . . and we were off. Goodbyes and accolades settled in the dust we left behind as we raced to the cabs . . . and our next Andalusian adventure.
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Address: Calle Conde de Barajas, 23, 41002 Sevilla, Spain
Phone: +34 954 38 91 25
NOTES about spelling: I used the Spanish spelling wherever possible. Sevilla, not Seville; Andalusia not Andalucia; like that.