Today Besha Rodell takes the big shoes she has to fill straight into Jonathan Gold's turf, grabbing a couple of pre-Hispanic Mexican meals at Juan's Restaurante in Varrio Bolen Parque. Shortly after crediting an empanada de flor de calabaza (no, not an "empenada," guy), she writes, "Then came the weirdness." This includes a "unwieldy, kinda slimy gray-green" stuffed cactus, chiles en nogada with a "candied" poblano, Stevia-sweet walnut sauce, "leaden" tortillas, and "fruit cake filling," along with a disaster of a dessert.
Returning, she finds redemption in the various moles, calling the negro "the oil slick of the gods," and one with pineapple and pine nut that even distracts her from her cold shrimp. Like many local mole devotees, Rodell would love to see the sublime sauces draped over some better proteins and concludes that Juan's ambitions are admirable but could only benefit from putting "its efforts on the strong suits:...[and] pare back and focus.
Holy Mole [LAW]