Feelings of Beetle Juice consumed my body upon entering the River Oaks location of Américas. Delightfully decadent décor oozes past the entrance, making its way around the corner to the bar. Before soaking in the mysteriously uncertain situation, the décor story quickly emerged.
Chicago architect, Jordon Mozer… is not messing around. I asked executive chef David Cordúa if this guy is somewhat naturally nuts, but it appears he’s simply stellar with naturally creative talent.
Ingredients of the Américas help bring together the Latin theme. Placed perfectly throughout the restaurant are replicas of beans & squash. The designer recently returned to complete the new addition to the dining room… popcorn. An endless row of fluffiness line the back walls with a purpose. As well as beans & things, one of the menu’s main ingredients is… corn.
As executive chef Cordúa attempted to enlighten AVH of the agricultural technique slash correlation between many of the ingredients, I suddenly slipped into radical rookie status, hence… not understanding. My bewildered brain exited this establishment right around, um, corn being grown with bean vines which wrap around corn stalk.
Eleven thousand & three apologies, chef.
Ideally, Cordúa explained, the goal of this particular location is to feature small plates. The ceviches and taquitos help make Américas more neighborhood friendly. Being that the neighborhood we are in is… River Oaks, averaging 84 socialites per 0.2 mile radius, we may need to change that to… out-of-the-neighborhood-friendly.
The small plate philosophy means people don’t have to feel like they are going into Americas for a $60 experience. They can actually come in and have a glass of wine with a couple of small plates for around $20. Commoners living life without a tiara kindly thank you, sir.
More Américas Enlightenment…
“Américas is a progressive Pan-Latin dining experience highlighting the gifts of the new world. What would history’s kitchens be without the tomato, the potato, vanilla, corn or avocado – Michael Cordúa’s Américas uses contemporary cooking technique and discipline to pay homage to the mystery and treasures of the Americas. Take a trip with a Flight of Ceviches, Potato crusted calamari, Grilled Chicken Ahuacatl, or the signature Pargo Americas. With eye popping architecture, edgy and artisan mixed cocktails, and North and South American wines, Américas is a whole night of dynamic entertainment.”
The flight arrived with four different kinds of ceviche. We started with ahi tuna, then moved on to the salmon with pineapple and toasted sesame. Next, we devoured the crab, shrimp, tomato, and avocado ceviche. Ending our ceviche rendezvous is the mixto tilapia & calamari combo.
Two taquitos of non carnivore consistency await! Plantain crusted shrimp with cilantro slaw, pico de gallo, and avocado will not leave you feeling fluffed up and fully fried. The soft shell crawfish taquito with hoision, sesame, and avocado is a winner.
For the always at the table humans possessing carcassness, the menu offers bacon wrapped quail with mushroom, panela cheese, red pepper, and béarnaise. Before scampering off into the wild with a bone placed all comfy in your mouth, Américas also has a beef short rib taquito with black bean, queso fresco, pickled onion, and tempura mushroom. There is the always handy dandy taquito tray available for those wanting to sample all four.
Okay, let’s just go ahead, right now, without wasting a shred of sunlight, and get over the fact that the lighting, in all pictures, is particularly painful from this very moment on. I am at odds with the sun daily. We have an ongoing battle in which I limit speaking of only with my therapist.
The grilled Atlantic Salmon Caliente is grilled with shrimp, ceviche beurre blanc, and pico de gallo. There are lots of items in the entrée section with pork, lamb, chicken, and beef. I’ve tried the crusted snapper with achiote grilled shrimp, and lemon scented crème fraiche, and it is delicious. There is also a grilled market catch available, as well as grilled swordfish.
Our server arrived prepared to create fire at any cost. Though somewhat riveting to average consumers, we calmly watched our server set veggies… ablaze. A few other accompaniments causing excitement are… grilled lobster tail al ajillo, jumbo lump crab, shrimp al ajillo, and plantain crusted shrimp.
Cordúa explained that although a vegetarian item is not offered on the menu, Américas does have a few veggie items off the menu. This dish is very risottoish, which puts a powerful pip in my step. Those dreaming of risotto glory have a dish in which to wish… Rice corn pablano in a Peruvian sauce with sautéed mushrooms.
The spectacle of miniature “melt-in-your mouth” dulce de leche cookie sandwiches are well above average fabulous. A monumental moment of melting happens on the spot. The menu description is… fact.
Other desserts are the bananas foster prepared with a bit of a twist. Also, Delirio de Chocolate… chocolate truffle cake, chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache, as well as the Crema Catalana… vanilla crème brulée, shortbread, berries. The cocoa tart is another tasty dessert, with the gianduja fudge, chocolate ganache, and coconut ice cream tasting toe curling delish.
Tres leches cake fire duty was upon the… manager. It was as though his body had been taken over as he danced around, performing at a magic producing level comparable to that of… David Copperfield. This manager also delivered an original tres leches cake having not been burned. By the by, give Américas a 24 hour notice and you can possess an entire tres leches cake.
While sipping on my sassy gin & cucumber drink, I could feel David Cordúa taking our BFF status to the next level. All that was left was for him to go ahead, without wasting another son of a legendary chef moment, and add me as a… facebook friend.
A favorite of David’s is the pan roasted sea bass served over polenta spoon bread, sautéed spinach, and habanero beurre blanc . This chef almost caused a tear to squeak out of my left duct during this moment of endearing childhood reminiscing.
He explained, the spoon bread is his Dad’s recipe from about 12 years ago. Cordúa remembers the first time he tasted it as a child. Served in a martini glass with jumbo lump crab meat and habanero beurre blanc, the rich & buttery flavors left a lasting impression.
Always on the prowl for bread pudding peaking perfectness, Américas did not disappoint. The tequila bread pudding is up there with the rest of the best. Delivered warm with toffee, tequila, caramel, and a scoop of cinnamon ice cream, you will most certainly experience dessert deliciousness.
Executive chef David Cordúa is certainly following his father’s footsteps in establishing himself as a credible chef. Having never met David prior, I was curious as to whether his chefness was handed over on the always exciting silver platter… or earned. Before my glass of Malbec became a memory, our conversation diminished all dubious doubt. Américas in River Oaks is the place to relish quality South American cuisine.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch