I’ve already written about the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues, and now their main restaurant, Crossroads, has another feather in the cap. I refer to Aaron Sanchez, a young Mexican-American chef whose New York City restaurant, Centrico, turned several heads.
Sanchez, along with Doug Rodriguez and, if we are allowed to count him, Rick Bayless, is one of the best Latino chefs in America (Border Grill’s Too Hot Tomales, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, also are members of that exclusive club, along with Miami’s Michelle Bernstein, who is Jewish/Cuban).
Now the El Paso, Texas, native has added his imprimature to the menu at Crossroads at House of Blues, having developed several new dishes there. Sanchez recently published a new cookbook, “Simple Food, Big Flavor”, filled with recipes based around a number of salsas and spice pastes, and it’s a real treat. He’s been consulting with Chef/GM Andrew Economon here, and several new dishes on this menu are terrific.
So at a recent afternoon tasting, I sampled ahi tuna salad alongside a newly added shrimp po’boy, and had seconds on a prosciutto flatbread and an amazing achiote marinated roast chicken, which enlivened the flavors of Mexico’s Caribbean province of Yucatan.
House of Blues already has several good things on the menu, such as their justly celebrated Voodoo Shrimp, shrimp tossed in a spicy cream sauce. The flatbread had chunks of sun dried tomato and sliced crispy prosciutto, and the dough came out wafer thin and flavorful.
That salad is sort of a chopped salad, with pieces of sashimi quality ahi layed out against the sides of the mound, laced with a light, fresh style vinaigrette. I suppose the meatball sliders will sell a lot, but they don’t really show what Sanchez is capable of.
For that, try the achiote marinated roast chicken, made with a spice popular in the Yucatan, annatto seed, which will turn your fingers an outrageous orange color. This is one delicious roast chicken, so grab an order when you can.
I’m already using the first recipe in Sanchez’ book, entitled “Garlic Chipotle Love”, to advantage. I love chipotle, essentially jalapenos that have been smoked and dried, and combining them with garlic to form a paste using oil, salt and a touch of cilantro is magical. Smear it on fish, or spoon it into a homemade soup, and you’ve got game, bro.
Crossroads at House of Blues is Inside Mandalay Bay. Call 632-7777 for reservations and information.
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