Mar 13, 2009

A La Vibora de la Mar - Seafood

It was about bloody time the Critic tried something new, so when the opportunity came along to sample this new seafood restaurant, the Critic jumped at the chance. Almost literally, since actual jumping would involve exercise and that is anathema to the Critic's existence.

The Vibora restaurant is located in that little, out of the way shopping plaza where the Carls Jr. burger restaurant was relocated after Burger King (same owners) requisitioned their Montejo location. To get to this place, you might have to ask a local for directions. If you are asking, mention Planet Bol (as in Bowling Planet) and you will be in the right area; the mini-plaza is just a few steps from that treeless monstrosity of a building.

The food at Vibora is surprisingly different, in a good way. There are tacos, tostadas, ceviches, cocktails, pastas, empanadas and all kinds of main dishes featuring octopus, calamar aka squid, fish, shrimp and even oysters. What makes this place different is the way all these fishy items are prepared. There is, for example a tostada covered in marlin/chipotle fishy concoction that is quite tasty, as is the order of shrimp a la diabla; fresh shrimp cooked in a lightly spiced sauce and served in tacos.

The Critic tried several dishes, and the prices are reasonable. Service is friendly. After you are seated, the waiter brings each member of the party a small sherry glass filled with something hot. This is on the house and turns out to be very good shrimp/seafood broth. A hot appetizer in a glass! Nice touch.

There are a couple of things the Critic noticed that, corrected, would elevate the restaurant to top-notch status. The tortillas are machine made or store bought or whatever and their lackluster quality and brittle consistency severely detract from the delicious creations tucked inside. The salsa, to this Critic, is not as good as it could be. It is a pickled tomato salsa, and the pickling gave the Critic the impression of being stale and on a second visit, slightly 'off'. A fresh salsa would be better ITCHO (In The Critic's Humble Opinion). If you order a Bloody Mary, or a tomato or clamato juice preparado (all the makings of the Bloody Mary without the liquor) you will notice that the celery stick has been past it's prime for weeks and is a wrinkled, brown-edged and completely unappetizing intrusion in the drink.

This place is worth a visit just because it is new and they are trying hard to create a good impression.

Mar 5, 2009

El Principe Tutul Xiu - Mani, Yucatan

The other day the Critic had lunch at the Principe Tutul Xiu restaurant in Mani, previously reviewed favorably on several occasions and one of the Critics' favorites.

While the food on this occasion was very good, especially the Poc Chuc, there were a few details that hinted at a bit of complacency on the part of the Xius.

For example, when you arrive, no one greets you and should you ask, the girl behind the counter at the cash area will simply say 'sit wherever you want'. Not particularly welcoming. The tortillas, object of endless raves by this reviewer, are brought to your table in a basket uncovered and by the time you get to the last one, they are cold. If they want to keep their reputation, what with all the competition out there in the restaurant world, they are going to have to stay on their toes.

Other than that, the food is quite good. Service is just average. Prices? Cheap. There were four people in the Critic's party, four dishes were ordered and a pitcher of fresh squeezed OJ. The bill was $370 (pesos) before tip. At todays exchange rate, that's just over 20 USD for 4 people. Quite reasonable, no?

After stuffing yourself, you can then stroll over to the monastery and check out the renovations going on that will leave the building quite spectacular.