Colibri - Page 2

A bistro that transcends the taqueria, expanding the Bay's definition of Mexican cuisine
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Photo by Rory McNamara

We probably tend not to think of the Distrito Federal as a region; it's the capital and center and a sprawling, smoggy megalopolis. But it's also the home of peneques ($16), batter-fried dough pockets stuffed here with beans, set on a bed of corn kernels and zucchini dice with meanderings of black-bean purée, and topped with a blood-red tomato-chipotle sauce, some chunks of queso fresco, and a large rivulet of crema. The dish simultaneously suggests the bounty of Mexico and the culinary legacy of the Indians (whose agricultural trinity consisted of corn, beans, and squash), while giving vegetarians something to enjoy without having to make do with small plates raked up from the fringes of the menu.

The desserts are more routine but do go beyond flan. Pastel de tres leches ($8) is a little too much like Mexican tiramisù for my comfort, but Colibrí's version manages not to overdouse the sponge cake while coating it with white meringue frosting and (a nice touch) shavings of white chocolate.

The nearest thing to a contemporary, postmodern dessert is probably negro y blanco ($8), a fine chocolate mousse served with whipped cream in a coffee cup beside what the menu calls a "white chocolate confection": basically a pointed cap of white chocolate filled with ice cream. The confection was tasty and visually striking, but the white chocolate seemed to have been child-proofed and was difficult to crack open and eat gracefully. There is always an element of theater to having dinner out, of course, and even the act of eating itself can offer moments of excitement and visual interest. But when theater becomes spectacle, with white-chocolate shrapnel skittering across the table and ice cream squirting onto neighboring lapels, you know it's time to make like a hummingbird and whiz gracefully away.

COLIBRÍ

Mon.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.; Fri., 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m.

Sat., 10 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

438 Geary, SF

(415) 440-2737

www.colibrimexicanbistro.com

Full bar

AE/MC/V

Moderately noisy

Wheelchair accessible

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