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Opening a new location of an already successful, packed restaurant to a new neighborhood is not easy. And even though New York’s Móle had experience with this—there are two locations in the LES (205 Allen St.) and the West Village (57 Jane St.)—moving to Williamsburg (178 Kent Ave.) has not been without challenges.
The wife-and-husband team of Lupe Elizalde and Nick Cervera opened the BK location in spring. The successful enterprise, which has been co-signed by the likes of Lady Gaga and Scarlett Johansson, found a spot near the water, at the intersection of N. 4th Street and Kent, in an area that’s about half apartment high-rises and half graffiti covered warehouses.
First Móle had to do battle with the City’s outdoor seating permit process. Then there was the problem of building a clientele in a new location, one that’s known for gimmicks and one-upmanship masquerading as taste. Taste—keep that in mind. Because that should be the reason why a restaurant succeeds. How’s that shit taste?
Good, very good, and at times great, that’s a short answer.
Over five courses my tasting partner and I went through a number of menu offerings, each paired to a different tequila, handpicked by co-owner Nick Cervera.
For the first course, we ate ceviche with shrimp, crab, and octopus, all in a bright red Mexican-style cocktail sauce; the tequila was the 7 Leguas Blanco, served chilled. The ceviche was solid, the texture of the crab rightly stringy and the octopus like thick pieces of muscle. The blanco tequila was what really impressed; it was smoother than tap water. If someone had introduced this to me my freshman year of college, I’d be dead.
The second course arrived, corn soup with a Don Julio reposado. Because reposados are aged longer, they have a sharper, more complex flavor than a young blanco. The menthol cigarette sensation when you exhaled after a swallow of the reposado complemented the deceptively creamy—it sat thinly in the spoon—soup.
To cut the acidity of the flat red tomato sauce our chile relleno stewed in, a 1921 Anejo was paired to our third course. An anejo arrives to the drinker after an aging process of no less than a year, giving it a color and character closer to a smoky whiskey. The 1921 had a watery varnish color, but remained smooth. At this point in the meal I was beginning to wonder if I was going to consume any alcohol. When I got up to use the bathroom, I realized I’d consumed more than I’d thought.
The fourth course, the most anticipated course: At a restaurant called Móle, you’re automatically anticipating the arrival of anything coated in mole sauce, the chocolate based sweet and savory concoction that has thousands of permutations; no mole is the same. This mole is made regularly by Lupe’s mother, who still lives in Mexico; it is then shipped to the three restaurants. Lupe’s mother’s mole smells strongly of nuts and tastes more than a little of chocolate almond butter, but with a heavy meat stock as a base, something like a gravy. Over the chicken enchiladas, it positively destroyed. Bag me and tag me, I was done. All credit due to the glass of Herradura Blanco (with a squeeze of lime) for zipping me up as well.
But there was still one more course, dessert. From the kitchen emerged a tall and wide cut of chocolate cake, erected on the plate next to a heap of freshly whipped cream that ran up the cake’s side like a firewood pile next to a cabin. The cake must’ve just emerged from the fridge; the hard chocolate roof was sweating. A bright drizzle of orange sauce stretched across the plate. We drank a Riazul Anejo, and we felt content.
Here’s a reason to go into Williamsburg. Here’s a(nother) reason to agree with Lady Gaga. Here’s to Lupe’s mother. Here’s to Móle.