Open late Fri.-Sat.
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THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED Mundo Restaurant Review: Like so many of his national culinary cohorts, Norman Van Aken has been branching out from his flagship Norman's. This is a big, gorgeous brasserie boasting chef Van Aken's usual New World cuisine. Amber lighting, wood floors, an outdoor terrace, a market on the side and an open kitchen make the space warm, casual and visually interesting. The menu, too, is informal and intriguing, a number of small plates filled with brash flavors from all over the map. Wood oven pizzas are large enough to share, and come with innovative toppings such as duck confit, green garlic aïoli and mushroom ragoût. Sandwiches are stuffed with the unexpected, like grilled beef short rib with horseradish foam and tomato marmalade. Sushi, tapas, it's all here under one roof, but this is no haphazard food court of flavors---Norman's deft balance of contrasting textures is the unifying thread that ties it all together. There are misses to be sure, but let's concentrate on some high points, like a dramatically presented cochinita pibil, slowly braised pork on banana leaf with perfect guacamole and hot, homemade corn tortillas; and wakame-stuffed Alaskan salmon with tart tamarind glaze. Mundo does a nice job of simply grilling steaks over charcoal, too. Service isn't always up to the task, and desserts are more fussy than fulfilling, but Mundo succeeds in giving us more casual access to Norman's bold cuisine.