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El Catrin Launch = OMG

El Catrin 
18 Tank House Lane
Distillery District
Toronto, Ontario

Chain? Hell no!
Dress code? Hell no!
Reservations? Hell no!
Price? $$

So, DwF attended their first launch party! YAAAAY! We were so excited to share in the opening of a new Mexican spot in the Distillery District. In between dancing and talking to fellow bloggers, we managed to taste some amazing food and dangerous drinks. 

When you first walk in, you're immediately entertained. The decor is fantastic and the hand-painted mural is truly a work of art. From the floor to ceiling, this place is Mexican sheik. 

We were treated to 8 courses tapas style and an accompanying cocktail. We were seated at the bar, best seats in the house in my opinion, and were given the lessons in tequila and Mexican cuisine. The service made us feel like royalty. They were fun and very knowledgeable.  

The first course was guacamole en la mesa. You want fresh guacamole? They made it infront of us and it was AMAZING. Even the chips were made in house. They gave us nueces picante, nuts glazed in 3 Mexican spices. The traditional margarita tasted of fresh lime and tequila. 

Next up was ceviche de atun and vuelve a vida el catrin. Now, you wouldn't think tuna and watermelon would go well together with chives and lime juice, but wow. It was refreshing and flavourful. My man doesn't like seafood, but he loved it! As for the oyster with shrimp, octopus, scallops, olives in acapulco cocktail sauce was a little different. I'm not sure if the seafood itself was salty or it was the cocktail sauce, but I didn't enjoy it. This course came with pepino diablo. This was my favourite drink of the night. Lime, cucumber, tequila and agave nectar made this drink refreshing and tasty. Around the rim was a Mexican spicy 'candy'. Yum! 

This course was my man's favourite, tacos al pastor. Pork tacos in a fresh corn tortilla with pineapple made us want more. The marinated meat melted in your mouth. I could've eated many of these and my man agreed....well, as much as he could with a mouthful of food. The fuego sandia was my second favourite drink. Served with fresh watermelon chunks, it was a light elixir of fruit and tequila. Very/too easy to drink! 

Onto course number 4 with tostada de higado de pato AKA seared foie gras in a fresh tostada with mezcal mango syrup and red onion relish. Sounds like a mouthful, huh? If you've never had foie gras, the texture might distract you, but it was flavourful and tender, the mango and relish perfectly complimented it. The drink with this little treat was the hibisco rosa....it tasted like hibiscus, very floral, as they put it. I didn't enjoy it. All I could think of was air fresheners. 

This was definitely the most intriguing course of the night. Ensalada de nopal or cactus salad was served. It had onion, radish and tomato like a normal salad with chucks of cactus. The texture reminded me of a grape tomato, but a little bland on flavour. The flavour was all from the fresh cilantro and tequila lemon dressing. Too much cilantro for my liking, found it a bit overpowerin, but the dressing was lemony with an unexpected kick. This came with a mojito reposado, the BEST mojito I have ever had. The Cuban mojitos have nothing on this one! 

My man doesn't like shrimp, so I was pretty happy here with the camarones al ajillo. I got 2 jumbo shrimp the size of the palm of my hand!! The red rice/black bean puree/guacamole combo was euphoric. The garlic, white wine and lime juice really brought all of the flavours together. The zarzamora came with this dish. It was a blackberry cocktail that was just the right amount of tartness to compliment the sweetness of the rice. It's good, but it's a sipper. 

Holy crap, not done eating yet. Course number 7 has the costilla corta en mole negro. You didn't even need to chew or use a knife on the braised beef short rib. It was to die for. So savoury, so delicious. The black mole sauce and sweet potato puree went perfectly! The drink was mayahuel consisting of tequila(no way), lemonade and ginger beer. I wasn't a fan of this one. The ginger beer overpowered the whole drink like a punch in the face.  

Dessert time!!! At this point everyone complained how full they were. LIES! All of those people cleaned their dessert plate without blinking it was that good! Soft, warm churros with chocolate, strawberry and cajeta sauces. Need I say more? Oh wait, there IS more! Barra de chocolat had a little surprise. At first bite, the sweet smoked hazelnut flavours come out, then the caramel crunch(reminded me of Skor) and then....POW! Those hazelnuts were spiced! I've never had a spicy dessert, but I really enjoyed it. The drink was aqua de coco. It's an easy drink that's not too sweet to go with dessert; another winner. 

Thank you for inviting me! Kudos to the photographer for thebeautiful decor pictures. If you look closely, my boyfriend and I are sitting at the bar! :D

This was a great experience. Meeting the owners, chef and designer that poured their hearts and souls into this place was a real treat. Rarely, you get to meet these people and learn what all of this means to them.  

I'll definitely be going back! 

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