A trend that’s been brewing for a few years on the West Coast is making its way to Newburyport this month, as Metzy’s Cantina mixes Asian and Mexican food for a four-course tasting menu on Tuesday, January 28.
It’s the brainchild of Operations Partner/Executive Chef Chris Lee, who has always been fascinated by the way cultures share cooking methods as they travel the world.
“Chef Chris has truly amped up the Mex/Asian concept at Metzy’s in this last year, since taking over as our executive chef and partner,” says owner Erik Metzdorf. “We see fusion as a natural progression,” he adds, noting that Metzy’s got its start as a food truck and remains rooted in street food.
Accompanying the four-course menu, served family style, will be spirits samples and education from Herradura Tequila. The well-respected brand, started in 1870, is credited with inventing reposado-style tequila, in which the spirit is rested in oak barrels for a minimum of 60 days, as well as the extra añejo style, which requires the tequila to be aged for at least three years.
While pairing a flavorful and high-proof spirit like tequila with food seems challenging, Lee says it’s really just a matter of understanding how the spirit is made then bringing a similar style to the dishes.
“You want your pairings to help you tell the story,” the chef says. “The smoky taste of the reposado tequila balances the [flavors] of the flame from your grill. You can almost hear the sizzle as you eat and all the flavors dance around your palate.”
To that end, look for some grilled items on the menu—Korean BBQ, Asian Spare Ribs, and Gochujang Teriyaki Skewers, among other plates, alongside Metzy’s favorites like Mexican Street Corn.
Metzdorf says that the tasting dinner is in some ways a formal introduction to a new menu rolling out later this month. “Our new and improved/expanded menu will include a full section of “fusion” menu items that [Lee] has been testing,” Metzdorf says, noting that nearly everything from the current menu will remain as well.
“Hitching our wagon to the ‘fusion’ idea will allow us to keep tweaking our offerings seasonally and year after year.… Tortillas are kind of a magical ‘chassis’ from our perspective—we look forward to continuing to explore combinations that will elicit that eye-popping moment when we see a customer take the first bite of one of Chef Chris’ specialties.”
The event, “Metzy’s Keepin’ It Street Tequila Dinner,” begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour and light bites, followed by the sit-down family-style prix fixe menu and tequila tasting. To reserve for the dinner, which costs $60 per person, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call the Cantina at 978-255-7347, or visit https://tinyurl.com/metzystequila.