Ten years ago this spring a San Miguel institution was born. Fleeing the commercial pressure of the U.S. restaurant industry, young chef Donnie Masterton sought refuge in this charming Mexican city. Turns out it was the right location and the perfect timing for Donnie to create one of San Miguel’s most beloved restaurants.
Named simply The Restaurant, this locale had little need for a fancy moniker to set it apart. Back in 2008 this corner of Mexico was not yet the foodie hub it is becoming today. The Restaurant shot onto the scene as the first fine dining, chef-driven restaurant in San Miguel de Allende.
Before Moxi, before Bovine, and before Cumpañio, Donnie had faith in the discerning palates of San Miguelenses. His vision of “global comfort food” transformed the city’s gastronomic scene with inspired dishes like roasted mushroom risotto with thyme and local parmesan and grilled pork chops with bacon braised cabbage, caramelized apples, and vanilla which both satisfy the belly and titillate the senses.
Influenced by the farm-to-table movement and growing global appreciation for local, sustainable ingredients, Masterton quickly realised the potential of central Mexico’s luscious, varied produce. His innovative seasonal menu showcases local cheese makers, organic farmers, and traditional cattle ranchers.
Like every other business in 2008 The Restaurant suffered through the global financial crisis and tourism slowdown in San Miguel. But necessity is the mother of invention. Those difficult times gave birth the restaurant’s wildly popular Thursday Burger Night where Masterton’s team serve up a dozen or so gourmet burgers in a more casual dining ambience.
Since founding the hugely popular The Restaurant, Masterton has gone on to create Taco Lab, Birdie’s Burgers and El Vergel in the city. His latest opening is Fatima 7, a Mediterranean restaurant at the top of San Miguel’s newest luxury hotel.
On a recent spring evening, one hundred diners, friends, and partners gathered together under the Moorish archways of The Restaurant’s stone patio to drink, eat and celebrate an incredible ten years leading the foodie set in San Miguel.
Chefs came from all over Mexico and the United States – Eduardo Garcia from Mexico City, Neal Fraser from Los Angelos, Tomas Becerra from Guadalajara just to name a few – to offer a personal homage to The Restaurant with a nine course meal accompanied by wine pairings. The coddled egg and caramelized cauliflower was divine, the grilled fillet with kale crouton, perfection. Each dish was accompanied by a personal playlist of music created by each individual chef. It was a night of pure sensory delight.
And while it may have seemed like just another grand event at The Restaurant, a closer look revealed a misty-eyed staff, many of whom have been with The Restaurant since 2008. Also present was a community of grateful eaters and friends brought together by their frequent encounters in that very dining room.
Over The Restaurant’s storied 10-year history there have been Top Chef competitions and Outstanding in the Field dinners, community benefits and art shows, DJs and dance parties. Yet still Masterton’s flagship restaurant continues to satisfy its most demanding of customers with food prepared with love and sense of place. On your next trip to Mexico, be sure to taste this delicious part of San Miguel’s culinary history.