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MEDIAnoche – We hardly knew thee

July 28, 2012

When Sauce Magazine announced two weeks ago that MEDIAnoche, the Mexican restaurant that appears nightly at brunch spot Half & Half, would be disappearing soon, I hastily made reservations.  How glad I am that I did, and how sad I am to see this place go.

 I often lament the lack of Mexican restaurants in St. Louis that hit justtt the righttt spot.  And, robust, spicy, savory salsa is almost always the first noticeable weakness for STL mexican joints.  MEDIAnoche hits that nail directly on the head.  Le sigh – naturally, I’d only find an exemplar of stellar salsa three weeks before a place is set to close.

The salsa though was just one of many successes for the meal.  The two entrees we split – beef cheek tacos and an altar of pork delights – were spot on.  The tacos are just some straight up solid tacos: flavorful beef cheeks with all the onion/cilantro/lime fixin’s.  Actually, it seems that the quality of the tacos are partially to blame for the upcoming disappearance of MEDIAnoche, since the general popularity of the dish has made the owner weary of tacos.  Unsurprisingly, they distract diners from the other, more dramatic/chef-pleasing entrée offerings.  For example….

…the Puerco con Panza, or as we took to calling it, the pork altar.   This dish was composed of cold smoked pork tenderloin (apple or something fruity laced throughout), crispy pork belly, roasted banana, pickled radish, avocado puree, and powder-ized pork fat (that’s right, they went all molecular gastronomy on us) and all this was served on a long white, high set plate – hence, pork altar.   I thought it was fantastic.  The banana and radish were wonderful with the tenderloin, and the crispy belly sang all by its lonesome.  PB loved it so much he suggested it surpassed our meal at Frontera in Chicago (of Rick Bayless fame).  Hmmm.  I’m not sure I can jump on that train, but it was pretty darn good all the same.  For our remaining third taco we sprinkled a bit of the powder-ized pork fat (aka – sweet, wonderful essence of pork) on top – major step up from queso fresco.

So, my recommendation, have dinner at MEDIAnoche before about mid-August when it will turn into ‘Little Country Gentleman’ (midwestern-fare). And don’t just order tacos.

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