Dec 31, 2009

Dang Ren Chinese Food - Merida, Yucatan

The Critic thinks he has found possibly the worst Chinese food in Merida. It's a little place called Dang Ren, located across from Costco on Calle 60 and the Critic was hungry while waiting for his vehicle to be serviced at nearby Radial Llantas and decided to get a little MSG fix.

There are plastic chairs and tables, of the Coca Cola variety in what used to be this house' garage. The sign says something about 'art in Chinese cuisine' or something equally ambitious and slanderously incorrect. The food, in steam table recipients on a couple of plastic tables where one notes a complete lack of any steam, looks Chinese enough.

A Chinese man pops out of the house and asks if you want one guiso or two and if it's to go or to eat here. The Critic says to eat here. The difference is that one gets a plastic fork. The styro container is the same. One guiso and rice today.

The Critic sits, sticks the fork in the rice and puts in his mouth. The undercooked ie hard rice is between lukewarm and cold. Ugh! The chicken? Same thing. If there is one thing the Critic hates it's buffets and their lukewarm food. That's where all the tourists in Cancun get sick.

A moment later, the entire 27 peso package was in the garbage at Costco, where the Critic picked up a turkey and cheese sandwich at their deli, which was much better.

This place is just gross.

Dec 10, 2009

Italian Coffee - Merida-Cancun Toll Highway

A new Italian Coffee kick the 'isla de servicio's offerings up a notch!


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Doña Tere, Merida-Cancun Toll Highway

Last night, on the way back from Cancun, the Critic and guests stopped at Doña Teres' eatery at the Isla de Servicios on the Cancun-Merida toll highway. If you haven't had a chance to try their Yucatecan food, you should definitely put this place on your to-do list.

The Critic and guests enjoyed tacos de cochinita, lechón, relleno negro and lomitos de Valladolid on hand-made corn tortillas. Everything was lip-smacking delicious.

The bill, including a café con leche and two cheese empanadas to go, came to a whopping 197 pesos.

This will be the high point of your trip on the toll highway which is otherwise mind-numbingly boring.

Thank you!

Thanks to those who took the time to write a note in response to my previous posts' request for feedback. It is much appreciated!

Dec 8, 2009

Feedback Please

The Casual Restaurant Critic needs some feedback here folks; it's evident that someone is reading the charming reviews posted - note the live feed on the right hand side of the page - here but the Critic is getting no feedback and since there is no monetary reward for spewing forth unsolicited criticisms of Meridas' culinary scene, such as it is, your feedback is what keeps the cantankerous Critic motivated.

Thank you.

Dec 6, 2009

Acitrón - Gourmet Mexican Cuisine, Merida, Yucatan

Last night, the Casual Restaurant Critic, Better Half and friends had dinner at one of Meridas' newer 'upscale' restaurants, Acitrón.

The Critic had heard of the place and the wonderful food that the two chefs were preparing, and was expecting to be amazed. Unfortunately, the experience was underwhelming.

No doubt, the much commented-on Chaya Frita appetizer was terrific, a giant serving of chaya (a local plant always describe as a kind of spinach for lack of a better comparison) leaves, crispy, lemony and served with toasted bread and a tasty dip. Rolls are not warm, but the butter is seasoned and quite tasty.

The main dishes included Tequila Shrimp on a bed of coconut rice; the rice was fantastic with real live chunks of coconut but the shrimp, while large, had an aftertaste of frozen-ness if that is a word. They just didn't seem that fresh. There was also the fusilli in squid ink with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese, which was very good. The Critic had the salmon which was slightly undercooked but not overly so. The sauce, possibly tamarind - but then the Critics' memory is failing him - was sweet enough and complemented the fish nicely, as did the green rice which was delicious. In the Critics' opinion, the food could have been hotter, as it seemed only luke warm.

The room itself is warm, minimalist and lit up in plenty of red, making it cozy and modern at the same time. There was a problem with the electricity perhaps, because the overhead halogen lighting was flickering on and off. Music was off when the party entered, but some tunes came on about 30 minutes into the dinner.

The big problem here, like the Critic mentions in the previous Sensei Sushi post, is the service. If you have creative chefs in the kitchen working wonders with exotic ingredients and creating delicious food, why in the hell can you not have someone out front handling the service so it is up to par with the food? The waiters are in the "just alright" category; however, they lack confidence when presenting themselves and describing the food, and in the case of the Critics' table, the waiter could have benefited from a course in diction. His mumbling combined with the hesitant manner in which he described the food made it hard to understand what he was saying.

And while on the subject of Front of House, to serve a glass of Merlot ice cold was not to the Critic's liking at all. This is to be expected in some Yucatecan homes where wine is still a novelty but in a restaurant like this? Almost a sin. As well, maybe it's old fashioned but the Critic thinks it is a good idea to serve the ladies first. The mens' drinks arrived at the table several minutes before the ladies' drinks appeared. And when done, and the ladies are still eating, leave the men their plates so the women don't feel pressured. Just a few humble suggestions from the cantankerous Critic.

The chefs are doing their thing in the kitchen and doing it well. With a few tweaks here and there, they could eventually give Nectar a run for their money. But whoever is looking after their front of house needs to find work elsewhere to make room for a professional who knows what service is about and can bring that part of the experience up to the level the chefs are trying to reach with their imaginative culinary creations.

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Check out photos of the restaurant on FaceBook

Sensei Sushi, Merida

The CRC, on a neverending quest for decent sushi in the formerly white Merida, had a go at Sensei Sushi, yet another Japanese restaurant to recently open its' doors to Meridas' undemanding sushi fans. If it's got cream cheese in it, it must be good, seems to be the motto.

The cantankerous Critic, along with the Better Half, had a quick lunch there two days ago.

The room is much nicer than what the Critic had come to expect after putting up with the faltering Campay, tolerating Shaolin and surviving the ghastly Konsushi. Quality furnishings in an airy, bright, well put together design that evokes a sense of purpose; as opposed to the amateurish and the frankly chaotic of the other restaurants mentioned above.

The Better Half had ordered 3 rolls off the table card and so the Critic is not sure what their names were, but all three were better than expected. A salmon nigiri ordered for dessert (a Casual Restaurant Critic sushi tradition) was perfect; the salmon cut thick and ice cold, served on a perfect portion of rice with a light brush of wasabi.

Sensei made a good first impression, with of course the usual exception typical of all Merida restaurants:* the service sucked. Slow, inattentive and sloppy, it was embarassing.

It is decent enough as a sushi option in Merida if you aren't particular about the service end of eating out.

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*Two Merida restaurants come to mind if good service is important to you: La Recova and La Susana. The rest, and I'm sorry my dear Yucas, all suck to some degree.








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Dec 1, 2009

Crunchy, Crappy, Crisps

As we all know, crisps are potato chips in the land of Ali G. In Merida, they are 'papitas'.

This brand, 'Caseras by industry giant Sabritas, are crunchy but unfortunately devoid of any flavor and salt and only have a hint of 'picante' and vinegar-y aftertaste. Horrid. Do not buy.

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There was a photo of the bag of chips in its' clear polyprop plasticicity, but somewhere during the upload, it desintegrated. Sorry 'bout that.



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Nov 9, 2009

Mision Fray Diego - Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Two nights ago the Critic found himself with his Better Half, waiting for some out of town people who were staying at the Fray Diego hotel on 61 street in Meridas' occasionally charming downtown. While waiting, the Critic thought: here's a chance to review a new restaurant for his avid readership!

Yucatecan food was on the menu and that what was ordered.

A crunchy longaniza sausage appetizer, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, served on some lettuce leaves with pickled red onions and some roasted tomato sauce. Quite tasty. Then two orders of the Critics' favorite: Queso Relleno. The presentation was plain, but the dish itself was good, although not as good as at La Tradición which is in a class apart and has been reviewed to death by the Critic on this site.

A pity about the tortillas, which, although warm, were not hand made. But the Critic supposes the clientele here is not that demanding in the tortilla department.

The service was quite adequate and the bill, with two Cokes, came to 350 pesos. Reasonable. The garden setting on this cool Merida night was beautiful, with a fountain bubbling happy among a quartet of chacá trees. A nice place to relax with a good drink and a smoke.

Nov 7, 2009

Pappadeaux Revisited - Houston Airport, TX, USA

The Critics' favorite airport restaurant is still in Houston but their buffet is not a gastronomical experience the Critic would recommend or repeat.

Upon being seated, the Critic and his Better Half were informed that ordering was possible off the menu or that the buffet was available until 3 pm for only $10.95. A deal! The Critic and the BH ordered the buffet, which, upon closer inspection, consisted of the following:

  • Mixed Green Salad (pretty plain, but alright)
  • Penne Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese (bland, not much going on here flavor-wise)
  • Breaded, Deep-Fried Chicken (just OK)
  • Breaded, Deep-Fried Fish (ditto)
  • Catfish Filet (this actually looks good, but is pretty bland)
  • Cooked unpeeled Shrimp (yummy, too bad there were only 5 of them)
  • Gumbo-like Soup with Rice and Shrimp (hot, peppery and delicious)

There is the hilarious moment when you unwrap your napkin to find your fork and spoon, in authentic silverware. Then the waiter appears with a plastic knife, since having a real metal knife would pose a deadly temptation for those would-be seafood-loving terrorists. The Critic imagines that stabbing someone with one of those metal forks would be more effective than any damage one could cause with dull silverware knife.

In general the buffet food is bland, but this seems to be a constant in the U.S. With so many concerns about salt content, and appealing to the masses, kitchens in many restaurants eschew flavor. The Critic recommends skipping the buffet and ordering from the menu, which has many a delicious, plentiful and well-presented dish.

Nov 1, 2009

Miyako Tokio Sushi - Vancouver, BC Canada

The Critic is going to get mercury poisoning from eating all this sushi!

The typical Vancouver cold October rain outside made the place probably seem cozier than it was. Huge portions, good service, very neighborhood-y feel. Try the Crunch and Munch, their version of the BC Roll with crunchy salmon skin inside.

Nothing too fancy, just good sushi at good prices!






Oct 27, 2009

Real Food - Houston airport, TX, USA

Real Food is a new restaurant featuring different kinds of food prepared or served at stations; like sandwiches, bakery, salads, barbeque, burrito and more.

Located near Gate 42, the place looks great. Unfortunately, the food is lackluster in the taste department.

The Critics' recommendation? Skip it and go eat "real food" at Pappadeaux.


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Bubba Gump, Cancun airport



















Bubba Gump. In a sentence? Don't bother; the food is fattening, bland and expensive. Service from Sofia was very good. But the eats? Naah. Bring a sandwich from elsewhere. Forrest would have hated it.



Oct 24, 2009

La(s) Mestiza(s) Restaurant, Piste (Chichen Itzá) Yucatan, Mexico



















The other day the Casual Restaurant Critic found himself in the charming hamlet of Pisté, adjacent to the majestic Mayan ruins of Chichen Itzá, where Sarah Brightman will sing at the end of this month.

Having heard of this restaurant, the Critic stopped for a quick breakfast of huevos con longaniza which seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to arrive. This was, as the Critic later discovered, because the kitchen was taking the trouble to accompany the plate with fresh, thick, hand-made tortillas! A real treat in this age where Maseca cardboard tortillas are the accepted (by some) norm.

Food was good, the tortillas excellent, service fine and the coffee awful.


Oct 19, 2009

Campay Sushi - Merida Japanese

The Critic is not sure what is happening at Campay but things are not as happy in this sushi place as they once were.

The room feels smaller than usual, perhaps because it has been given a new coat of paint. The Critic feels that there used to be something on the walls that made it feel a little more spacious, but that could be an optical illusion.

The sushi is still quite acceptable but there is no effort made anymore to decorate the plates in any fashion. Rolls are put on a plate and that's it. Edamame is a tiny portion worthy of derision; a few soy bean pods dumped on a side plate. The waiter, who has 'served' the Critic on the last few occasions he has been there, always has something negative to say or there is some problem with something that has been ordered. The customer is asked if he or she wants ginger and wasabi. The ginger tastes nothing like the pickled ginger once offered - it seems like they have decided that buying real pickled ginger is too expensive and have decided to make it themselves with decidedly unfortunate results.

While it is not as bad as the sushi place by the gas station, Campay is definitely off the list of places you should try, at least until they get their act together.

Not good.

Oct 18, 2009

Mosaic Restaurant and Wine Lounge, Forestville, CA, USA























If you want the Critic's recommendation for a truly great little restaurant in a non-descript little town on the way to the California coast, the Mosaic Restaurant and Wine Lounge in Forestville is that place. Located on the main drag of this tiny little pueblito on the way to Highway One, it looks like nothing special from the outside. Once inside however, one is struck by the attention to detail in the decor of the room and the beautiful back yard terrace, which is where the Critic, the Better Half and guests sat on a late sunny California morning for brunch.

There was a fresh mimosa, strong freshly made coffee and an attractively simple menu for breakfast and brunch that belied the deliciously imaginative food offered.

The Critic and Co ordered a few items off this menu: sauteed mushrooms with a softened chunk of fresh brie; crispy shoestring french fries with 7 herbs and spices; home-made lamb sausage and eggs and an order of eggs and potatoes.

All of these items were away and beyond normal breakfast food - highly recommended. A look at the pictures below gives you an idea of the care taken in the preparation.

Service was excellent.

It may seem unlikely that you find yourself in Forestville California, but you never know! And if you do, you must have breakfast here, in the Critics' humble opinion!


Mosaic Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Oct 16, 2009

Fishy Finger Food on Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA, USA

There is nothing the Critic can critique about the great seafood delights you can eat at Fishermans' Wharf in sunny (and chilly now) San Francisco!

From the whole crab to the cocktails to the fried offerings, it's all fantastic! Highly recommended!







Oct 14, 2009

Cheesecake Factory, Galleria, Houston, TX, USA

Not much one can write about the enormously popular Cheesecake Factory is there? Most of my readers are probably familiar with the concept, very close if not identical to the Chili's /Fridays idea.

The Cheesecake Factory is consistently decent. And always crowded. And they do have a great selection of totally over-the-top decadent cheesecakes. Which the Critic did not sample on this occasion.

As our Houstonian CookieMan puts it: "huge portions of overpriced mediocre food".

The Critic wouldn't be that harsh on the poor Cheesecake Factory. Maybe it's not the "gourmet" experience, but it is a reliable place to have lunch or dinner. Many so-called upscale dining spots in Merida strive - with little or no success - to attain this level of consistency. Maybe that's what makes them interesting...

In the photos: fried cheese balls (if memory serves the Critic right); some adventurous (for this kind of restaurant) dates wrapped in bacon - very good; a taco salad; a greek salad; and a nacho close-up.






Oct 8, 2009

What Merida Restaurant Would You Like To See Here?

In between all these Houston restaurants, what Merida restaurant would you like to see reviewed here, to keep things local and focused?

The Critic would love to hear your suggestions!

From Luby's to Pappas Steakhouse, Houston, TX, USA

The Critic went from popular Texas favorite Luby's to Pappas Steakhouse in one day, driving around in Houston.




















First, lunch at Luby's. The Critic had always heard of Luby's but never actually been. Thinking it was one giant all-you-can-eat buffet featuring deep fried southern food, the Critic was surprised to find all kinds of real food, healthy and attractive and definitely not all-you-can-eat! The grilled salmon was excellent as were the accompanying veggies and the Better Halfs' salad was fine. The Critic will re-visit Luby's, definitely!



















Later that day, in a fit of steak craving, the Critic and the always acquiescent Better Half visited Pappas' Steakhouse on Westheimer near the Galleria area. Having been there before, they knew what to expect and boy, was it good!

The Critic had a daily special for an appetizer; a delectable partially de-boned quail while the Better Half had the soup of the day, leek and potato. As a main course, a perfectly grilled Rib Eye and a special Texan Venison steak with a Huckleberry sauce and sauteed chanterelle mushrooms. Perfect! There was barely room for a dessert but the Gooey Pecan Pie had to be tried. As a friend in Vancouver would say: to die for.

Oct 4, 2009

Tampico - Mexican Seafood Restaurant, Houston, Texas, USA

Since Houston is really in Mexico, it should come to no ones surprise that there are a gazillion Mexican restaurants in Bush-ville, catering to every possible permutation of Mexican food lover, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The Critic, the BetterHalf and a local (let's call him CookieMan) had the opportunity to sample such a Mexican restaurant; the Tampico Seafood Restaurant down on Main Street in Houston. After passing by other Mexican places with names like Flores Mexicanas and Teotihuacan, the trio arrived at Tampico.

This restaurant, lit up by neon so bright that the half-blind Critic was unable to capture the actual name of the restaurant with a new camera, is huge! It seems like the original room was added to a number of times leading to a jumble of rooms all interconnected somehow. The Critic and Co sat on the deck outside, where smoking is still permitted in a civilized gesture that the authorities in Vancouver could learn from.

For appetizers, there was queso fundido (melted cheese) with chunks of shrimp and tostones (fried platano macho aka banana chips) with a guacamol-y mayo dip.

The main course is whatever you want it to be and so the Critic ordered Red Snapper, shrimp and scallops. Everything was dusted with what seemed like fine red pepper dust and was extremely tasty. Served with rice, the food was too much and some was left over at the end.

CookieMan ordered a flan, just to try it, and seemed very pleased with it.

Along with some real and truly refreshing Micheladas to start, this was a taste of Mexican seafood in Houston, served by very friendly latino personnel.

Recommended.

Last is First* - Uptown Sushi, Houston

In the Galleria area, where so many Yucatecans love to come and shop, the Critic found this great sushi restaurant in an upscale outdoor shopping center just off the 610 which is much like what City Center strives to become in Merida. Alas, it's probably not to be, but that is the subject of another post, at another time.

Let's call this shopping center Uptown Center for lack of a better name - it might actually be it's name, actually. There's all kinds of upscale boutique and eatery action going on: from Crave, the extremely fashionable cupcake bakery to the Potbelly Sandwich Works restaurant. And Uptown Sushi, the subject of this review.

The place itself evokes a Jayne Mansfield vibe, as the Critics' Better Half pointed out. Discreet lighting, comfortable booths, draped lamps and wall treatments are everywhere in creamy white and salmon colors. The music is 70's and the wait staff is Japanese, while the sushi chef is, of course (this is Houston) a Latino. The Critic and his BH sat at the sushi bar, which is set up in such a way that one can't really see what the chef is doing, which is unfortunate in the Critic's sometimes humble opinion.

Two rolls were ordered, along with an absolutely amazing Key Lime Pie martini. You have to order this delicious and refreshing martini should you find yourself here! The rolls were house specialties: the Lickety Split roll and the Don's Roll. Exceptional and imaginative, the flavors appeared on the tongue like actors on stage, one after the other, perfectly choreographed. If that sounds pretentious, it probably is, but if you slowly savor each piece of these creations, you will understand where the Critic is coming from!

Then the Better Half ordered some specialty sushi, which is in the next photo - at the front is sushi with smoked salmon, strips of mango, topped with masago which has been prepared with wasabi. In the back, scallops with avocado and the wasabi masago.

Fantastic sushi!

Highly recommended should you be in the area and are looking for great sushi. And not as expensive as the Critic had feared: the bill, with the martini and a couple of hot teas, came to $60 USD.

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*last is first refers to the fact that this restaurant was one of the last restaurants on this trip, but since the Critic has camera issues at the moment, the photos available were these ones.

Test Post w/ New App

While on this latest foray into the wilds of the United States gastronomical landscape, the Critics' biggest frustration was not being able to share his findings, ridiculous as they may be, with his loyal readers.

Fussy and inconsistent (or outrageously overcharged) hotel WiFi, a practically nonexistent public option (much like health care) and a finicky browser running Safari on a tiny iPhone screen with no photo upload capability made posting difficult if not impossible.

Until now, when the Critic finds himself back in Mérida with new 'app' to play with. If this works, there will be more updates from the road as the Critic travels here and there.

UPDATE: blog posted edited 'cuz it was ugly.

The Critic is Back! Reviews Pending - Stay Tuned!

Sep 21, 2009

Nectar - Merida, Yucatan

A quick note to my loyal readers... yesterday afternoon went for a late lunch/early dinner at Nectar, which has recently been 'reinaugurated' as they say in these parts.

The Casual Restaurant Critic is happy to report that the food is still excellent. Duck chimichangas, tzic de venado on a toston of fried bananas, tender sirloin steak with a roasted cranberry sauce, fettucine in a chipotle cream, and other goodies were had.

My only critique would be that they change their welcoming script. As the party was being seated and menus were presented, the head waiter informed the table that they were showing off their new, revamped menu. "Yes" he continued, "we took off the more expensive items and left the ones that are not so pricey." Well the Critic knows enough not to go to Nectar to save money and so this comment was just dumb. It would have been better (ITCHO) to mention the new items on the menu and emphasize that a lot of the old favorites are still there.

Oh, and always, serve the ladies first. And fix the coffee machine.

3 appetizers, 4 main courses, a glass of red wine and 3 Perrier waters - $1400.

Sep 17, 2009

Buda Wok
























The Casual Restaurant Critic had been yearning for the opportunity to visit this imposing new restaurant on the Prolongación de Paseo de Montejo for some time. With it's sleek, modern look, valet parking and a giant Buddha out front, it definitely looks promising!

So the Critic, Better Half and MiniCritic went for lunch last week. The restaurant is indeed beautiful: the decor, the finishes, the details are all absolutely fantastic. The personnel seemed a little casual and distracted but nevertheless, they were friendly enough upon arrival.

The Critic decided that a table in the regular section would be alright; opting not to sit in the Teppan Yaki show grill area.

From the menu, the appetizers:
Edamame - described as steamed Japanese peas. It should be noted that edamame is not a Japanese pea, but a soy bean. Oh well, no big deal.
Caesar Salad - a selection of different kinds of salad greens, with a Caesar dressing etc.
Scallops breaded with Parmesan Cheese

When the appetizers arrived, the Critic and Co. realized why they called the edamame 'peas'. These were indeed peas, of the Chinese 'snow pea' variety. Not only were they not soy beans, they were not steamed either! Rather, they were stir fried with pork that tasted a lot like bacon! A vegetarian would have had a heart attack. Thinking there was a mixup, the Better Half asked the waitress if these were the edamame. She assured the table that they indeed were. The Caesar salad did not really have a selection of different greens and the scallops, while crispy did not have a hint of Parmesan cheese. They were served on a white sauce with some cooked greens which looked interesting enough but was nothing to write home about (or even on this blog about) in terms of taste. The MiniCritic asked the Critic what the sauce tasted like and the Critic replied "white", which about sums it up.

For a main course, there was a Rib Eye for the Critic, a stuffed quail for the Better Half and a pasta for the MC. The pasta was fine, the stuffed quail featured a very tasty sour-y sauce but the Rib Eye was not a real Rib Eye, in the Critics' Humble Opinion. It's texture and taste was much more along the lines of a thick yet bland arrachera, in that rubbery, marinated, ham-tasting kind of way. Not good. And the accompanying Thai rice was... cold. Ugh.

Desserts were not had.

The Critic would not could not (in a box) recommend this restaurant in good faith, unless perhaps someone could put in a good word for their Teppan Yaki area or just to have drinks. The actual room, as mentioned above, is over-the-top beautiful, the service is just so-so and the food is really quite bad, considering the investment in the actual building. What are the investors thinking? Maybe it's a money laundering operation; that would make sense.

Happy eating!




Aug 24, 2009

Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda - Riviera Maya All Inclusive


















View from the lobby towards the rooms


The Critic got the chance to escape Merida's insufferable heat with a weekend at the so-called Riviera Maya; the hotel was the Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda, which is advertising heavily in Merida and offered a reasonably priced all-inclusive package.

The cantankerous Critic hates all-inclusive hotels because generally speaking, the food sucks. On one occasion, at a Best Day 'Resort', whose advertising slogan was 'exceeding your expectations', the food was all fried, boiled and tasteless.

Well, surprise, the Blue Bay DID exceed the Critic's meager expectations, after the initial shock of being in yet another huge resort with 1000 people.

The Critic had tried to make reservations beforehand via email for one of their specialty, reservation only restaurants, but was informed that this was not possible. So, as expected, upon arrival the Critic was told that there were no spaces available in any of the specialty restaurants except the Carnes (Meats) and only at 6:00 pm.

There was a very limited salad bar and so the Critic ordered his Rib Eye without much hope. But, the steak was very good, without of course delving into La Recova territory, and served with a small potato and a half corn on the cob. A promising start!

Breakfast the next day was buffet style and everything you would expect was there, in quantity and also of good quality. Fresh eggs to order, all manner of ingredients for your favorite omelet and even smoked salmon/lox and cream cheese.

Throughout the day, drinks are available everywhere and you are not limited to cheap 'well' brands; all the good stuff is there from Red Label JW scotch to Herradura Reposado Tequila.

That evening the Critic and Co had reservations for the Italian specialty restaurant and this really was excellent. The highlight, apart from the actual room itself, was the extensive selection of antipasto, olives, cheeses (Pecorino!) and quality cold cuts. The main dishes, pastas all, were excellent as well. The Tiramisu dessert was a let-down; basically a three layer sponge cake.

Service throughout the resort was friendly.

The Critic would recommend this place for a quick 2 day getaway.

Real Feta, green and black olives & other goodies to snack on...


















Aug 16, 2009

Cafe Lucia - Downtown

In the baroque Hotel Santa Lucia, located near (you guessed it) Santa Lucia park, there is a little cafe that the Critic found quite good in previous visits.

On this occasion, the Critic was dismayed to find the Cafe just a tad run down. The service, by a somewhat disheveled but still friendly waiter was good - no complaints there - as was the food which was not only tasty but also fresh and hot. Even the rolls were warm! The Greek salad ordered by the Better Half looked delicious, as did the fettucine with shrimp ordered by a Belgian Waffler.

The run down part was the actual place itself. There were stains on the walls, the air conditioners were visibly filthy, signage was haphazardly hanging behind the bar and all the desserts in the dessert fridge were from Costco. None of this would be particularly upsetting except for the fact that when the hotel and restaurant opened, they were both exquisitely presented with an eye to every last detail. There is no way that waiter would have been sporting that bed-head and definitely Dianne Krall singing jazz standards would not have been competing with the TV over the bar showing the archetypal Mexican western complete with gesturing priests, scurrying nuns, self-esteem challenged little boys, pistol waving facial haired cowboys and the crowning moment; the macho vaquero singing atop his horse in the wilderness.

The Critic wonders if there has been a change of ownership at this hotel? The original owners were/are much too finicky to accept this, one would think. Enjoy the photos!
  • Sopa de Lima
  • Greek Salad
  • Shrimp Pasta

















Aug 13, 2009

El Postrecito - Desserts n Coffees

In the Colonia Mexico, there is a relatively new dessert place called El Postrecito (the little dessert) run by a talented Yuca who lived in Quebec. Their coffee is great, their desserts are really delicious.

Short verdict: Go.

Have their melt in your mouth truffles or their signature Canadian dessert; a bread pudding baked with maple syrup or something to that effect.

A great option after eating fishy things at nearby Campay Sushi.

Aug 6, 2009

Wok To Walk Altabrisa Almost Open



















Tonight the Better Half and the Casual Restaurant Critic visited Wok to Walk, mentioned in the last post as coming into an already crowded placita called Fontana, across from the IMSS mega-hospital.

The restaurant is in the throes of opening, so there is still plenty of empty space behind the counter, there is no glass separating the flaming wok area from the public and the general feeling is that of a soft opening.

The cash register, however, is working!

The Critic and his BH had visited Wok to Walk before - the Montejo location - so knew the drill: you pick your rice or noodle, your toppings or goodies to be stir fried and your favorite sauce. They are then cooked up for you on the spot in giant woks with occasional bursts of flame flashing out to make it more showy.























Kind of like a teppan yaki restaurant except without the Japanese accent or the jokes or the knife acrobatics. OK, maybe not like a teppan yaki restaurant.

On this occasion the Critic ordered rice noodles with tofu, thai chicken, green pepper while the Better Half ordered arroz de trigo which prompted a reaction from the Critic who was surprised that there even was such an animal. Arroz de trigo means wheat rice, which is of course, not any rice that the Critic has seen in Superama lately. The Spanish menu says Arroz Integral which means brown rice, but apparently in the translation this became wheat rice. As in whole wheat perhaps? Also the green pepper mentioned above was off the English menu; the Spanish menu says pimiento, which is a red bell pepper and which is what was actually tucked in amongst the rice noodles. The noodles were ordered with the curry n coconut sauce; the rice with the Saigon sauce. Both dishes were excellent, piping hot, tasty and served in the little orange Chinese take-out boxes that have come to characterize Wok to Walk. Chopsticks were available too. And not the cheap kind either.

The decor and seating is of the minimalist style and there are similar seating options outside as well. Service was friendly enough from the young man who took the order; there were a lot of other people hanging around both outside and in: the Critic assumes these are trainees.

Would the Critic return? Probably.