Restaurant Reviews

Sexi Mexi

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As at MoQuila, guacamole is made at a cart by your table; it's delicious and two dollars cheaper at $7.95 (our waiter told us he'd been mashing guacamole by hand from the time he was in diapers). A ceviche of tilapia marinated in lime ($8.95) makes a sprightly appetizer, tossed with red onion, cilantro, a sprinkling of rare hot rocoto peppers, and a surprising, contrasting touch: diced sweet potatoes. Other appetizers we can't wait to try on our next visit include jumbo Maine sea scallops ($11.95) with pickled fennel salad, orange glaze, and chili morita essence; a chimichanga ($10.95) filled with shrimp, calamari, and scallops over a black bean purée (our neighboring table was so orgasmic over this dish that I wanted to beg for a bite); and soft-shelled crab ($9.95) served over red beet purée.

I ordered camarones Silvana ($18.95) for an entrée; it's a meal I won't forget soon. Grilled shrimp, gently charred, are arranged around a tlaocoyo (a light and buttery masa cake) stuffed with a paste made from black beans. Then it's drizzled with chipotle and a pitch-black calamari ink sauce that tastes like a heavily reduced red wine touched with the scent of oceans. The whole thing is just unbearably delicious, but the tlaocoyo is a revelation. My spouse's thick, double-cut roast pork chop ($17.95) was juicy and peppery, enlivened by a tart mango barbeque sauce and served over garlic mashed potatoes, a big portion of unique comfort food. It comes to the table wearing a little sombrero of a dumpling crammed full of spinach and a toasted pecan. So yummy.

And for a sweet ending: crepas de cajeta -- a flour and egg crepe draped in the traditional Mexican goat's milk caramel sauce and laced with brandy, then dotted with sugared pecans (a recipe Brodziak must have made often at Tamayo, which still serves it.)

Silvana's menu, for its great delicacy and creativity, is a few notches above MoQuila's more heavy-handed fare. But it's not exactly party central, and it's way out in some godforsaken strip mall on Powerline Road. Brodziak plans to obtain a liquor license at some point, and the wine list could use some work -- this tiny handful of midpriced Chilean and California wines doesn't meet the standards of the food. But what a lovely place this is: gentle, unassuming, and with a shining inner beauty. Which restaurant you eventually take up with depends on how you swing: MoQuila is Paris Hilton to Silvana's Penelope Cruz. If you're greedy for experience, you'll fall in love with both.

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Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd