A Whole Lot More Of The Same Old Thing: Aqimero Reviewed

Photo by Emily Teel

Photo by Emily Teel

Look, I’m not pissed off about my meals at Aqimero. To be pissed—for my experiences to rise to the level of actually making me angry beyond a kind of vacant, low-boil frustration—would presume that I was at all surprised by my experiences.

I’m sad, a little bit. It’s depressing to see what could have been a great restaurant space (what should have been a great restaurant space) so terribly misused, and the liveried staff lingering expectantly around the host’s station, waiting for customers who are never going to arrive. To look at those soaring ceilings and sky-reaching pillars, the marble, the vastness of it all, and to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Aqimero will be (or, again, should be) experienced solely by visitors staying at the Ritz who are afraid to leave the shelter of its luxurious walls, incapable of walking a couple blocks, or just so careless about the price of things that $17 for a (small) plate of fried shrimp seems perfectly reasonable, is just dismal. I didn’t love 10 Arts, which lived here before big-time international restaurateur Richard Sandoval brought Aqimero to the Ritz-Carlton a few months back. I had great meals there, and ones that were merely so-so. A bit of its luster rubbed off after it lost Eric Ripert’s oversight and Jennifer Carroll in the kitchen. But 10 Arts still undeniably fit into the vaulted lobby of the Ritz. It belonged there in a way that Aqimero just … can’t.

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A First Look at Aqimero in the Ritz Carlton

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As part of the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton, the hotel has a new Richard Sandoval restaurant, Aqimero, opens today in the lobby of the historic building. Sandoval, who is originally from Denver, has opened almost 40 restaurants globally, but this is his first Philadelphia-based project. The restaurant will feature Latin American cuisine and the menu and dishes described as “Mexican beach campfire style.”

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Ritz Carlton Is Adding Latin Restaurant from Richard Sandoval

Richard Sandoval is coming to the Ritz Carlton

Richard Sandoval is coming to the Ritz Carlton

The Ritz Carlton on Broad Street in the midst of a $24 million redesign. As part of that upgrade, the 10 Arts restaurant is giving way to Aqimero, a Latin seafood and small plates restaurant from chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval. Sandoval’s restaurant group is based out of Colorado and has more than 40 restaurants around the globe.

The 206-seat Aqimero is aiming to open in May, 2016 with a wood-burning grill as the centerpiece of the restaurant and concept. Like 10 Arts when it was run by Eric Ripert and executed by chef Jennifer Carroll, seafood will be a big part of the menu. There will be a grilled fish of the day that will take advantage of the wood-burning grill. Whole roasted snapper will be served “Mexican beach campfire style” with tomato and chili adobo, avocado, tortillas, chayote slaw and limes.

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Blue Cat Provides More Latin Flare for Fairmount

Brian Freedman claims that the Latin Blue Cat is a worthy addition to the suddenly red-hot Fairmount neighborhood.

Salmon filet, beneath a gorgeous crust from the cast-iron skillet, was a simple, delicate dish, topped with a mango salsa that was as straightforward as it was bright. Stuffed cubanelle pepper could have been a problem, but ended up succeeding brilliantly. The composition was simple, yet each flavor spoke with clarity; this was a high-wire act. But as with so many vegetarian and vegan dishes in the city these days, this one managed to pull it all off with real grace and flavor. The smoked mushrooms, quinoa and almonds lurking inside were given an appealing sense of personality, and all tied together by the smoke-kissed tomato mole the pepper was braised in.

Fairmount Just Got a Lot More Exciting With the Latin-Inspired Blue Cat [Philadelphia Weekly]
Blue Cat [Official Site]

BlueCat Opens on Fairmount

BlueCat, which we first told you about in December has opened at 1921 Fairmount Avenue. The airy Latin BYOB is by the husband and wife team of Guy Shapiro and his wife Luli Canuso. Shapiro has worked for the Toscana Restaurant Group and with Wildflower in New Jersey. Canuso was a pastry chef at Le Bec-Fin.

Michael Klein tells us that the restaurant name and wall-sized mural pictured above are inspired by the couple’s pet Russian blue cat.

BlueCat will be joined later this year by Mugshots, which is moving to the new mixed-use building from its location at 21st and Fairmount.

Latin Flavors from BlueCat [The Insider]
BlueCat [Facebook]

Cafe Chismosa Coming to Northern Liberties

The former Almanac Market at 900 N 4th Street is very close to opening as Chismosa Cafe. The Latin inspired cafe and coffee shop will offer ceviches, tortas and tostadas. As for an exact date, a post on the cafe’s Facebook wall says they’re at the Health Department today, and we all know how that can go.

Chismosa Cafe [Facebook]

Latin Farmer Hits Love Park Today

Latin Farmer is the latest addition to Philadelphia’s food truck scene. The truck made its debut last week at the Mt. Airy Night Market where the shiny truck served up several dishes:

Avocado-Lime Hummus
with Sazón baked plantain chips

Choripan
Spicy chorizo, sugarcane stewed onions, queso de papa, pineapple-cilantro mustard and banana kethup

Collard Wrap
Malta-braised skirt steak, chayote-apple slaw, queso fresco, heirloom tomato chimichurri

Vegan Collard Wrap
Garlic mofongo, sugarcane-stewed onions, heirloom tomato chimichurri

Cucumber Mojito (Non-alcoholic)

We thoroughly enjoyed the collard wrap and the cucumber mojito. Today the truck will be at Love Park with a fuller menu beginning at 11 a.m. and it will be back every Wednesday and Friday.

Latin Farmer [Official Site]
Latin Farmer [Twitter]

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