Guest Review by Marina Wilhelmsson.
Peyote is the name of a cactus that has no thorns, has a wonderful pink flower and has been known to be used as a drug. Maybe that is what made me choose it? 😉
Let me start off with the location. For me it was a bit of a surprise to learn that a financial district (DIFC) has both great views, fabulous art galleries and great restaurants. Just passing by, it looks like any dull corporate centre with tall office buildings and a sleek facade. But then you get inside and experience the wow-effect. Stairways, bridges between buildings, fountains, art galleries and palm trees. I had decided to go to Peyote but once I got there I could have picked any number of great sounding restaurants.
Peyote is a cool place and the interior matches the vibe. The staff is nice and there was even time for some chitchat with them on a slow Saturday afternoon. Suave is a word that comes to mind. Sophisticated, smooth, elegant and with an air of urban attitude. The sign above the bar says ”Tequila is cheaper than therapy”, so with this in mind I let the waiter seat me and bring the menu.
If you pair the right wine with the right kind of food, it is like a symphony in your mouth and will make your taste buds swirl. When it comes to Mexican food, the right kind of alcohol is of course tequila and the signature drink is a margarita. Peyote has a range of different margaritas and I chose the ”Mothers day Margarita”, which is a standard margarita with a shot of red wine. Ay caramba! There was a whole mariachi band playing La Cucaracha in my mouth! The drink was just as good as it looks and paired perfectly with the food. Bear in mind, nothing cools down the heat from a habanero as well as tequila. Or is it the lime? Anyway….for those who do not drink alcohol i can say only this – eat more chips. Don’t drink water 😉
First plate of food is a complimentary cuatro of sauces with home made tortilla chips. There was a sweet and smoky sauce, an aioli, a tart green sauce and of course the hot as hell habanero sauce. The waiter was kind enough to warn me about it and he did so with a gentle smile. I thanked him and luckily came through the experience with only a mild burn! Trust me, the habanero is NOT to be played with. It has a kick that is awesome. It burns and stings but it also makes you want to eat more. Loco!
Next dish was the green Ceviche with lime, cilantro, cucumber, halibut and radish. It came in at exactly the right moment to cool down the burn from the habanero. You get quite a small bowl of it, but it is just enough. The lime and cilantro make the fish stand out and the tiny pieces of cucumber and radish just add that extra dimension of crunch. If you are going to have just one dish, it must be a ceviche!
Third dish was sweet jalapeno fritters with an aioli dip. I just love fried peppers and pimientos padron and this is a take on that but with a twist. The jalapenos were just mildly hot and they were sweet, crunchy and warm. It was impossible to stop eating and especially when you have a margarita to go with it. It was so good that the dipping aioli was quite unnecessary, but it was good in it self. It had a hint of smoke which was really nice. I think it would have been perfect with ordinary fries.
Fourth dish was of course TACOS! There are different types of tacos on the menu and you can mix and match your plate. I chose one with meat and one with fish. The fish taco was a grilled sea bass with salsa verde, pickled red onions and a big heap of cilantro. Perfectly grilled fish with salsa verde is of course one of the best things you can eat and if you stuff it in a soft warm tortilla it’s even better. There was absolutely nothing that you could add to that taco to make it better. The meat taco was a slow braised beef short rib with salsa verde and cilantro. The meat was so tender that it fell apart just by looking at it and the flavour was just soft and sweet. I think it lacked a pinch of salt or maybe a drop (just one!) of the habanero sauce, but otherwise it was a bit of perfection.
Fifth dish came in as a complimentary one. I was surprised and already full, but I think the waiter told the kitchen about the crazy woman eating, taking photos, writing stuff down and smiling all to herself and they decided to give me more. In came a huge plate with quesadillas! The filling was a nice heap of mushrooms and cheese and salad. I was already stuffed and had no appetite for more but I had to try it. Maybe all the other dishes spoiled my taste buds already or maybe the mariachi band had taken a nap, but I felt like the quesadilla was quite bland. Mushrooms don’t taste much and the cheese was not salty enough. This is probably a dish that you should eat before any of the others or maybe as a single main course with a cold beer or a glass of white wine, it didn’t pair well with the last drops of my margarita. Just too bad that it came in last.
The dessert menu was very tempting, like who can say no to churros, but the five courses had me down and I needed another walk. I said no to dessert, although my sweet waiter tried to sweet talk me into some sweets (sweet I know), and I felt proud of mysef. You should leave when you are on top! So maybe next time I will try the churros because I am going back for more soon!