Of course we could not resist stopping by the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia when we heard that bottomless brunch was being served at Aqimero. Recently we have returned to explore some favorites from the dinner menu. This Latin-American restaurant is the debut restaurant in Philadelphia for world-renowned celebrity chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval. Who has been called the “Father of Modern Mexican”, for combining Latin ingredients with international flavors and inventive techniques to create new and unexpected concepts.
“Partnering with Richard gives us the opportunity to offer a flavorful, entertaining and exciting new dining experience at our hotel,” said Darryll Adams, general manager. “His passion for fresh, sustainable and authentic cuisine is evident in the Aqimero menu, and we look forward to welcoming guests and locals to the first Sandoval restaurant in Philadelphia.”
The menu at Aqimero reflects Sandoval’s “made from scratch” throughout the menu which focuses on Mexican coastal cuisine with Asian fusion created from sustainable seafood, steaks, ribs and poultry. Walking in from the main entrance on Broad Street, the 206-seat restaurant is located in the landmark property’s marble lobby, which is modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. The building’s plentiful history is incorporated into the design palette of Aqimero, pulling through the sophisticated, rich colors of precious metals and currency into the fluid space.
Take a seat at the Ceviche Bar to enjoy a variety of unique sushi rolls and fresh selections from the raw bar including oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster tail, and ceviche of course. Guests can also stop by Monday-Friday 4:00 – 6:30 pm to enjoy happy hour at the bar only, featuring $1.50 oysters, $6 cocktails like Sake Sangria, Mojito, Caprianiha, Paloma or Margarita. Select wines are offered for $6 and beers for $5.
From the Ceviche Bar we sampled the Hamachi Tiradito with toasted pine-nuts, fennel, green olives, preserved lemon, and pickled fresnos. Our favorite, however was most certainly the Acapulco Shrimp Ceviche was divine balanced with fresh shrimp, habanero tomato sauce, pickled red onion, and avocado. We could have finished 2 orders.
We really began to kick off the evening with some of their signature cocktails featuring mezcal. We sipped on the Oaxaca Slowdance with el silencio mezcal, luxardo cherry liquer, lime, raspberry, and rosemary, as well as the Mexican Mule with el silencio espadin mexcal, sauza blue silver tequila, rosemary-pineapple shrub, lime and ginger beer.
For dinner we began with some sharing plates, we tried the Smoked Swordfish Dip with aioli, pickled jalapenos, tomato, and crispy tortillas. Next time we’d definitely like to try the Spicy Crab Guacamole. For appetizers we sampled the Spicy Shrimp Quesadilla with smoked bacon, tomatillo chipotle salsa, and avocado espuma. Although we wish the spice was kicked up a notch, this was one of our favorite dishes of the night. Next time we’d order the Lobster Tacos with chile de arbol salsa, black bean puree, and avocado or Grilled Spanish Octopus with arugula, black olive caramel, and lemon-oregano vinaigrette, don’t they both sound tantalizing?!
With the winter cold chilling our bones, we decided to sample the Butternut Squash Soup made with golden beets, baby carrots, apricots, and topped with a drizzle of chili oil and 18 year old apple balsamic. This is a great health conscious option for diners along with the Solterito Salad, Seared Ahi Tuna, and Wood Grilled Avocado. We love avocado, have you guessed that yet?
As for the Chef’s Specialties we tried the Seafood Cazuela with charred pepper, herb grilled bread, and baby heirloom tomato salad. This delightful dish came served in an individual cast iron pot. The Guajillo Braised Short Ribs may have stolen the show with the tableside pouring of the salsa de rancho au-jus while the dish was garnished with crispy corn masa croutos, chaote, and shishito salsa verde.
We had no room for dessert, but since our brunch review we can easily recommend the Funnel Cake “Churros” with cinnamon-sugar sweet with tart pickled berries for something sweet and the Black Rice Donuts were surprisingly savory and dense dessert option seasoned with Chinese 5 spice and served with a dollop of tangerine sorbet.
Reservations can be made via OpenTable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Aqimero. Breakfast is served daily 6:00 – 11:00 am, brunch is served Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am- 3:00 pm, lunch is Monday-Friday 11:30 am- 3:00 pm, and dinner is 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm. If you act quickly you may even be able to snag a spot for Center City District Restaurant Week which begins January 22nd- February 3rd.