Sunday, June 26, 2016

What we ate in Guadalajara: Anita-Li

Some go to restaurants for the food, some go for the decor and ambience, or the view from the revolving dining room; others go for for fun and entertainment. Anita-Li clearly falls into the last category. One meal does not prove much, but our tentative conclusion is that Anita-Li is a great place for drinks in a festive and kitsch ambience, but serious, well prepared food may be elusive.

It is obligatory to note that the name, "Anita-Li", is a palindrome for "I Latina", an earlier and closeby mother restaurant from which sprang the naughty young Anita.

Where the decor of Allium is spare and lending itself to appreciation of the highly nuanced food, the hyper-kitsch decor at Anita-Li sets the tone for a meal of over-the-top drinks and an unrestrained hand with the seasoning.

Anita-Li Dining Room and bar
Blackboard menu specials continue the informal tone
Let's have a look at the printed menu, this one of entradas.

Fun food awaits you at Anita's
You can look at the menus in more detail here.

We had first seated ourselves in the semi outdoors dining area (reserved for smokers) but moved inside due to the low level of buzz but greater warmth outdoors. The outside dining area lacks the kitsch decor of the inside one, and after all, that is part of the appeal of the restaurant.

We started off with a Chilcanita Peruana coctel, and exotic blend of spirits and fruits. It was quite good.

Chilcanita Peruana
Our first course was a blackboard special, Tacos de Soft Shelled Crab. It's becoming evident that we are crab fans. The tacos were the best thing we ate at Anita-Li. The dishes that followed declined in appeal.

Soft shelled crab tacos
Doña Cuevas ordered Sopes Cantineros, which proved to be an unfortunate combination of pork belly and octopus on cakes of masa. The two meats both were texturally similar, and the overall effect was of heaviness.

Sopes Cantineros
A pause, and another cocktail, this one even better than the first, A "Lupe Reyes", a fantastic drink combining licor de chile de Zaragoza with grapefruit and soda, dressed with fresh raspberries.

Lupe Reyes Coctel
Sra. Cuevas decided to hold at that point, but I gamely charged on, ordering Camarones Asados Thai. This was a dish which tends to demonstrate the flawed execution of "Asian - Mexican Fusion Cuisine", as sometimes practiced in Mexico.

Camarones Asados Thai. That's chipotle aioli squiggled on top.
The large, grilled, spiced shrimp were very good. But underneath the shrimp was a sort of salad of thinly sliced cucumbers and strips of chiles Jalapeños, in an aggressively acidic and terribly salty jus. It was inedible. I was instantly reminded of similar heavy handed seasoning in Asian fusion dishes we'd had at Aquiles Terraza in Morelia. Read here.

We decided not to try our luck with dessert. Besides, we were full.

In conclusion, it was an interesting meal in a fun room, with American Rock classics blaring on the sound system, but the food was poorly done, with the exception of the Soft Shelled Crab Tacos and the grilled shrimp by themselves. The cocktails were excellent, especially the Lupe Reyes.

RATINGS

Food:  6
Service: 7  Attentive, a little pushy, but not obnoxiously so. English is spoken.
Ambience: Garage sale in Asia
Cost: $$$$ La Cuenta, por favor.
Rest rooms: the men's was clean and cute, with a small garden view.

Location
Av. Inglaterra 3100, Vallarta Poniente, 44110 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

Tel: +52 33 3647 4742

Opens at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

What we ate in Guadalajara: Allium

Allium restaurant is part of the New Wave of locavore, farm-to-table restaurants that are opening in Mexico. Our meal there was among the best we had during our brief stay in Guadalajara. (Señora Cuevas rates the Pozole Blanco at La Chata as the best thing she ate. I liked that, too, but my best dish was the Crab Cakes at Allium.)

The menu is limited, which in my opinion is good.

Carta
Wine list
Other beverages
The two small dining rooms, a small inner one abutting the open kitchen, and a a larger, semi open air terrace, are decorated in spare, Minimalist style. At Allium, the focus is on the beautiful and delicious food.

Allium terraza dining area
The food is exquisitely and creatively crafted. There are some brilliant combinations, and as you would expect, some worked better than others. But nothing we ate was bad.

We were brought an amuse bouche of Sopa Fría de Melón, which had a mysterious herbal component. (Hoja santa?)


The house-baked bread was very good, although the black bean spread, in a pool of sesame oil, lacked pizzaz.

Warm bread in a cozy
Puree of black beans in oil
The Crab Cakes, a hot appetizer which could in itself make a light meal, were among the best I'd had anywhere. The cold Robalo curado en sal was wonderful.

Crab Cakes
Robalo curado en sal
Breast of duck, ordered medium well, was a bit smoky and chewy. Not my favorite dish of those we had, but acceptable. La Señora had la Pesca del Día, in the Elote Dulce preparation. It was good. The layered sauces tend to be on the gooey side in texture. That might not appeal to all tastes.

Pechuga de Pato

My dessert, Flan de Elote Tatemado, was pretty but not especially outstanding. The elaborate presentation raised expectations unduly high, but the conclusion was that it was merely pleasant.

Flan de Elote Tatemado
Service was casual but attentive. We liked Allium very much. We applaud the three chef owners for their often daring culinary creations. If we are ever again in Guadalajara, we would return there.

The Three Chefs (names to follow, I hope)
We also drank most of a bottle of a dry white wine, Villa Grand Cap Colombard-Sauvignon Blanc 2014. Reasonable priced at $450 pesos the bottle, or less so at $90 the copa.

Note that the terrace dining room has windows open to the street. Street vendors made perfunctory attempts to sell to the restaurant guests through the windows. Towards the end of our meal, a sudden wind and rainstorm broke out, and there was a lot of wind gust and some debris blowing about in that dining room. Karla, our waitress, found us a table inside and out of the wind.

RATINGS

Food: 8
Service: 8  Friendly and casual, just right.
Dress code: casual
Cost, including a bottle of wine: $$$$$+  La cuenta, por favor.
Ambience: Minimalist. Allium website

López Cotilla 1752 A,
Colonia Lafayette, CP 44150.
Guadalajara, México.

(33)

Tel: 3615 6401

Horario
Martes - Jueves
13:30-17:00 y 19:00-22:30
Viernes - Sábado
13:30-17:00 y 19:00-23:00
Domingos
13:30-17:00


Friday, June 24, 2016

What we ate in Guadalajara: around the hotel

There seemed to be quite a number of small, popular eating places, all within a few blocks of the hotel Morales. There are also some cheapie places offering such comida rápida as hot dogs and hamburgers. We didn't indulge our basest instincts.

The most obvious, and convenient spot, is Taquería Los Faroles, immediately across the street from the hotel entrance. We went there Sunday evening for a late snack. Doña Cuevas had three tacos de arrachera. They were pretty good, but best of all, non greasy. I had a nice torta ahogada, which came with a bonus pair of tacos dorados, but of nondescript content. It was nothing spectacular, yet satisfying. Service was very swift and friendly, and prices are low.



Torta Ahogada
Unrated. "It's a taquería, dammit!"

Slightly closer to the hotel than La Chata is La Gorda, a rather more conventional and even less formal luncheonette. I stopped in and had a tall glass of good horchata, nothing more, while watching the cook make enchiladas. Surprise! Cooking oil plays a major role in the food preparation there. But I would not hesitate to eat there if an opportunity arose.


A more significant food destination, a 10 minute walk from the Hotel Morales, involved birria. The dilemma was which birrieria offered the optimum experience? La Nueve Esquinas or Los Compadres? They face each other across a charming plaza like gunmen on the streets of Laredo. We decided on La Nueve Esquinas, because... well it was a few meters closer and looked more charming. ¿Quien sabe?

Birrieria Los Compadres
Birrieria Las Nueve Esquinas
Las Nueve Esquinas did not disappoint for either charm nor food.

Inside Birrieria Las Nueve Esquinas

The table salsas were especially attractive and sabrosa.


I had a large Birria de Chivo, and Sra. Cuevas a small barbacoa de borrego. Surprisingly, the barbacoa was served dry, without consomé.

Birria de chivo
Barbacoa seca de borrego
Note the small dish of lusciously porky frijoles. It was complimentary.

RATINGS
Food: 7

Service: 7

Cost:$ 1/2  La Cuenta, por favor.

Cleanliness: 9

Location:
Cólon 384 esquina Galeana,
Centro Historico.
Guadalajara, Jal, Méx.
Tel. 01 (33) 3613 6260

(Google Maps is incorrect as to the location of the two birrierias. They are transposed.)

What we ate in Guadalajara: La Chata Centro

Guadalajara and Jalisco are known for some traditional foods. There is pozole, birria and the torta ahogada representing the main food specialties. There is also jericalla, a baked cup custard, but a minor player. During our four night stay, we covered all of those nicely, although perhaps not optimally. In addition, we dined at two restaurants that broke far away from tradition, one which assiduously follows the farm-to-table credo, the other, unrestrained and serving often wacky Asian-Mexican fusion cuisine.

When we arrived at the Hotel Morales on Friday afternoon, we knew that we wanted a simple yet satisfying meal. We found exactly that at La Chata, just 4 or five blocks north of the hotel, on Avenida Ramón Corona.

La Chata: No Line!
La Chata, despite the similarity of names, will never be confused with Chet's Chat 'n Chew, formerly of Topeka, KS.

The popularity of La Chata is attested to by the waiting line that forms at the entrance at peak hours. To while away the wait, we people watched, especially the cooks up front, dressed like the Sisters of the Clean Room. Our wait was perhaps 20 minutes, after which we were escorted to a table in the well lighted, somewhat crowded dining room.

Las Cocineras "Monjas"
We already knew that would eschew the many temptations on the menu, and so, we both ordered Pozole Blanco. Sra. Cuevas had Pozole Blanco con Pollo and I Pozole Blanco con carnes mixtos.

Both were exactly what we had been wanting. The caldo was well made, nearly grease free, and both bowls were chock full of meat. The nuggets of maíz pozolero were cooked perfectly al dente. All in all, they we some of the best pozoles we'd had anywhere. But the accompanying tostadas were industrial origin and flat out tasteless.

The trio of table salsas were fair, but when I requested una salsa más picosa, our waiter quickly brought me a vibrant salsa de chile de árbol.

Pozole Blanco de carnes mixtos
For dessert, I had a o.k. jericalla and a so-so café de olla.

Jericalla
Sunday morning, we returned to La Chata for breakfast. There was no waiting.
 La Señora ordered a Big Truck Driver's breakfast of eggs, bacon, frijoles and chilaquiles. It was good, but too much to finish.

I erred in asking for Huevos Al Patron. This was a multi layer melange of bistec encebollado, huevos estrellados, sauce and some creepy pink edged and rubbery chunks of pancita. Overall, it was pretty gross. Had I thought more before ordering, there were many more than satisfactory foods awaiting a more discerning decision.

Huevos al patron

Bottom line: we like La Chata.

RATINGS

Food: 7

Service: 8 Service is swift.

Cost: $ 1/2 Our supper bill.

Cleanliness (restrooms included): 10

Location and Hours:
Av. Corona No. 126
Tel. 3613.1315 / 3613.0588
Horario: L-D: 7:30 am a 12:00 am

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Anniversary in Guadalajara—The Hotel Morales



Señora Cuevas and I observed our 48th wedding anniversary yesterday. We celebrated by spending an extended weekend in Guadalajara. Guadalajara was new to us. We'd been in México CDMX countless times, but never in the Big Guad. (Not counting a couple of nights in nearby Tonalá going and coming from the airport.)

We decided to stay at the Hotel Morales, in Centro. The Morales has excellent ratings on TripAdvisor and other web sites, and it's well merited. Everything about our stay was first rate and enjoyable.

The  dimly illuminated interior of the hotel is in a Spanish Morisco style. The public areas have antique furnishings. Everything is lovingly cared for and I smelled the good scent of lemon oil polish when I walked down the stairs.

On the other hand, the rooms have every modern amenity for one's comfort.

The hotels gallery of images far surpasses mine, and to view them, you merely have to click here.

We booked the Imperial Suite for 3 nights. It's a spacious corner room, tall ceilings and windows, hardwood floors, with a king bed. The big attraction for me was the ample jacuzzi in an alcove of the bathroom.

I made the most of the jacuzzi.
The jacuzzi tub filled rapidly and the water was as hot as one might wish.
The shower, in a separate stall, was very good, with near instant hot water and plentiful volume and pressure.

The bathroom also held a spacious, illuminated three door closet and a safe.

I'd booked the Paquete Lunamiel add-on, which adds "romantic room decoration", that is rose petals strewn about, kissing swans made of towels on the bed; a nice bottle of vino spumante Italiano, a fruit basket and a buffet breakfast for two. Because of our particular dining schedule, it took us a while to get to drink the wine, we barely touched the fruit, the breakfast was o.k. Sra. Cuevas found a handy mini-fridge under the large screen tv (which we did not watch.)

A corner of our suite
A cozy nook with antique radio and record player
The restaurant is pleasant and the food that we had was well prepared for the most part. Keep in mind that it's more of a convenience for guests than a gastronomic destination. The Ensaladas Mixtas were particularly fresh and good. Salmon a la plancha was well prepared.

Ensalada Mixta
Soon after we checked in, the reception desk rang our room to tell us that our taxi driver had found a cell phone, but due to "traveler confusion", I didn't realize that it was my phone. The staff later tracked down the driver, and my phone was returned the next day for a modest fee.

There is a nice, outdoor swimming pool on a terrace off the third floor, as well as a gymnasium.

Heated pool
I'd wanted a fourth night, but the hotel had no availability. However, I was able to book a double suite with two camas matrimoniales, in the new, brighter (and warmer) part of the hotel, through booking.com. It was surprisingly easy and hassle free.

Patio in new section
New patio
Our second room had no window, but there was a skylight dome in the spacious bedroom. There was plenty of light, and, of course, air conditioning. The bathroom held a tub and shower, and the tub was equipped for hydro massage.

The staff is outstandingly friendly and helpful. The Sales Manager, Sra. Liliana Nila, was ever helpful. Her husband, Lic. Manuel Mejia is in charge of Guest Relations and serves as Concierge as well. He was very gracious in obtaining restaurant reservations for us, and pleasant to talk with.

The desk staff at reception are all pleasant and attractive young women who are always smilingly helpful.

There is no lack of easy, casual restaurants within a short walk.
If we are ever in Guadalajara again, the Hotel Morales would be our place to stay.

Ratings
Comfort *****
Service *****
Cost: varies by room and other factors.
INAPAM discount given, on request


Hotel Morales Historical & Colonial
Downtown Core,

Ramón Corona Ave. No 243
 Zip Code 44100

Guadalajara Jalisco, México

P: +52 (33) 3658.5232 | 01800 315.5232
E: reservaciones@hotelmorales.com.mx
W: www.hotelmorales.com.mx


Saturday, June 04, 2016

Adios al Mercado de Pátzcuaro *

Fanciful Fruit Snacks at the Calle Codallos entrance to the Mercado
We have long loved the Mercado Municipal de Pátzcuaro. For color, variety and lower prices, it can't be beat. I still have a soft spot in my heart for it. But love grows old and love grows cold.

Recently, we have been more and more shopping elsewhere. We have traded color for convenience. Trudging through the mercado, carrying heavy shopping bags over broken, irregular pavement, dodging porter wagoners (how did he end up here?) and our van parked hundreds of meters away, has become pesado. Convenience implies easy and nearby parking. Our new go-to shopping place is the Tienda Don Chucho's and a fruits and vegetable stand just outside.

Why the change? Tienda Don Chucho's is located on Carretera 14 at Calle Puebla. Calle Puebla usually has easy parking, if not immediately next to the store, then a few meters up the street, where there's shade!

Don Chucho's is in the white building on the corner
Not only is there convenient parking, but the sidewalks and street pavement are in good condition.

But one of the best reasons to shop there is that the wonderfully friendly staff of Tienda Don Chucho's are service minded, and will go out of their way to help you. Don Chucho's is one of those amazing stores, where if you don't see what you want, just ask, and it's likely that they have it in stock. The amplitude of the inventory boggles the mind.

A sample of delicacies available at Don Chucho's
I have an unconfirmed impression that prices are slightly higher at Don Chucho's than elsewhere, but for me, it's worth it for the breadth of variety and the friendly service. Note: the store is very popular, and during peak hours, you may have to wait a few minutes to be attended to.

The fruits and vegetable stand, independently owned and operated by Sr. José Luis, has a sufficient selection of almost all verdura except for the most exotic.
If you like to comparison shop, you'd do better elsewhere, but José Luis' fruits and vegetables selections generally suit us. Sometimes if he doesn't have what you want, go in Don Chucho's, and it's likely that they stock it.

Another plus is that from about 8:00 a.m. daily, a matronly señora stands next to the Calle Puebla entrance to Don Chucho's, selling pan de leña from Panadería La Espiga. But you need to get there before 10:30 a.m. to get some.

Then, across the street is a string of menuderias, which I have described in part in a previous post titled Intestinal Fortitude. Testing is still in progress, but so far, I favor Menudería Lupita's and Menudería Los Dos Mundos.

We supplement our food shopping at Bodega Aurrerá, which adequately fills our needs. Not only is it conveniently located, with ample parking, the line of produce, while limited, is relatively clean and you can buy smaller quantities that keep longer. Our experience with mercado produce is that it spoils faster.

 

*Yes, I'm aware that "adios" is properly used when saying goodbye to the one who is leaving. But in popular GringoSpeak, it's o.k. for the one leaving to say it to the one staying. ¿Me entiendes?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Sum Dims at Jing Teng

My dear, departed Mother-in-Law was noted for her sometimes quaint exclamations. Once, when expressing frustration at her granddaughter's indecisiveness in choosing a JELL-O flavor, was "Ding bust it, Julie! Make up your mind."

"Ding Bust It, Jing Teng!" Frustration and disappointment were only part of the letdown that we felt on a Saturday morning visit in mid-April to what had been the best dim sum Chinese restaurant in Mexico City. We'd already been there on two occasions in consecutive years, and it had been a delight. No more. This time, it was a sad shadow of its previous glory.

We arrived at about 10:00 a.m. and were puzzled to see almost no other customers. The delightful Ximena was no longer present to serve as go-between, interpreting Chinese named dishes into Spanish.

My palate was disappointed, but my heart is broken. The dim sum that we sampled lacked flavor. Some lacked filling. The Won Ton Soup was an insipid broth. The only saving grace was the weird, gnarly noodle dish with egg and shrimp.

Previously "canelon", now what?
We finished our lackluster meal, and walked two blocks west on Avenida Santa Anita to Ka Won Seng. It is a longer established, full menu Chinese restaurant. You can read about it here.

You can read and weep over my previous posts on Jing Teng, here and here.

RATINGS

Food: 4
Service: 5

Price: cheap.
Rest rooms. Nasty.

Friday, May 06, 2016

This Little Piggy is Rosso


Our friend and former neighbor, Larry, the retired Texas High School Band Director, had been enthusiastically telling us about Porco Rosso BBQ in Colonia Roma. He enjoyed it so much that in one extended weekend, he'd eaten there three times.

Why would anyone want to eat American style barbecue while in Mexico City? There's such a wealth of other interesting cuisines from which to choose, both Mexican and International. (To the best of my knowledge, the first American BBQ restaurant in Mexico City is the somewhat rudely named Pinche Gringo BBQ in Colonia Navarte.

Here's why:
Because it's fun, and above all, delicious!

We finally decided to overcome our own resistance and go there. "We" consisted of our traveling friend Shirley, Sra. Cuevas and me.

Porco Rosso defines informal dining in Colonia Roma. The dining room is like something out of a Texas ranch, with wooden picnic tables and benches on a gravelled floor. The inner buildings are used freight cargo containers. Tables are shared with fellow diners. There will probably be a wait for a table. Our wait was about 35 minutes, but it was a pleasant one, chatting with fellow waitees.


I see by its web site that Porco Rosso calls its food "K.C. BBQ" The kitchen has a massive smoker oven.


Once inside, you place your order and pay at the order "desk" then pick up your drinks at the adjacent bar.
The rest rooms are inside massive steel cargo containers. The hand washing sinks are like horse troughs.


Your order is delivered to your table by a waitress, but not without some glitches. We had at least three incorrect orders brought to our table before the correct orders arrived, incrementally and at different times. But being in a good mood and recognizing the informality of Porco Rosso, we shrugged off the service quirks.

The food is almost a "Giant" version of Texas bbq; everything is over the top and bigger than life.



Take the bbq beans, for example. Isn't it enough to cook up tasty beans in bbq sauce? But at Porco Rosso, the beans are topped with sliced green olives, jalapeños, chopped onion, sour cream and shredded yellow cheese.

The meats are pretty good. Shirley had a very fine looking Pulled Pork Sandwich.


I ordered the "Par de Ases" combo, which gave us a choice of two meats; I chose bacon and brisket, and two sides for $410 pesos, plus a small order of Baby Back Ribs at $135. Our sides were the aforementioned K.C. BBQ Beans and slaw.

The brisket was the best of the meats, although not in the same class as Rudy's BBQ brisket at their Laredo, TX store. The bacon was salty, thick cut but limp. It might have achieved greatness had it been broiled or grilled to some golden crispness. The Baby Back Ribs were o.k.


The slaw, oddly enough, was kind of lean, but that was welcomed as a foil to all the rich, smoky, spicy and fatty fare facing us.

What we were missing was some plain, sliced white bread and some chiles jalapeños. I hailed a passing waitress and ordered pickles (it's an extra) and some bread. The latter was slow in arriving, and when it did finally, it was a miserable, low quality hamburger bun that had been toasted (once again!) and thoroughly dried to inedibility.

On the other hand, the pickles were a Platonic dish. They were home cured, with great, fresh crisp textures and appropriate spicing. In my opinion, it was the best dish that we'd had.

Great pickles!
Porco Rosso excels in the beverage department. The iced tea is exemplary. There are at times unique aguas frescas. The cerveza selection is pretty good, too. I had a Cervecería Colima, Cerveza "Páramo", which I enjoyed. It reminded me of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

RATINGS:

Food: 6-7

Service: 5 The problem lies not with the servers but with the awkward and poorly designed service system.

Ambiance: informal and relaxed. Seating is not very comfortable. Tables are shared.

Cost: $$$ Our bill, apart from Shirley's, was $660 pesos, drinks extra.

La Cuenta
Our friend Larry advises arriving before 2:00 pm. for the least waiting time and the best service. Seems like good advice.

Recommended dishes:
Pulled Pork Sandwich, Brisket, Ribs, pickles!

Summary: I enjoyed the experience although it was somewhat flawed. I might return only occasionally, but at an earlier hour.

Location:
Zacatecas 102, esq. con Orizaba, Col. Roma Norte. México D.F.

Also branches in Condesa and in Coyoacán.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

La Docena Colonia Roma CDMX: A sea voyage in three acts


Not long ago we read of a new seafood restaurant that had originated in Guadalajara and now had come to conquer La Roma.

From reading various descriptive reviews, I felt confident that this new enterprise was not just another hipster clone on the Trend Circuit, developed to sell overpriced cocktails and pseudo American sandwiches, but one that merited at least a tryout. Our good fortune was that it's only a block west of our Hotel Stanza, on Avenida Obregón at the corner of Calle Frontera. (When you see it, there's no danger of confusing it with the one star, old school Taquitos Frontera across the street.)



First, an advance warning: If loud noisy dining rooms bother you, do not go there. Instead, go to a Sanborn's or somewhere else more sedate. Or wear The Cone of Silence. If you arrive at the opening time of 1:30 p.m. on a weekday, it will be más tranquilo. After about 2:30, even on a Monday, the decibels began to ramp up.

Dual Cones of Silence
La Docena, (official and complete name, "La Docena Ostionería y Grill") is already very popular. There may be waiting times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of up to an hour or more to get a table. You can sit at the Oyster Bar, which looks, Janus-like, both fore and aft, but the selection of food is somewhat restricted, and payment must be made separately at the bar from any food or drink consumed later inside.



All these minor annoyances can be forgiven, for the service is smart and attentive, and the food, for the most, is sublime.

During our 6 day stay in La Roma, we ate at La Docena three times. So, don't ask me, "Did you like it? Would you go back?"

This review will be in three acts. The curtain rises for Act One, April 13, 2016.

I had finally come to terms with my fear and loathing of eating raw Mexican oysters. This well founded phobia had held me in thrall since our first trip to Mexico, in 1980. I'd suffered an illness I can never forget.
But from what I'd read, and then seeing the mollusks in the flesh, or rather, in the shell, it was apparent that La Docena took strict measures to protect the health of its customers. So I was ready to liberate myself from my phobias and give rein to unbridled, raw oyster slurping, sea-liquor sipping indulgence.

We had a long wait, so Shirley and I found seats at the street side of the oyster bar proper. She ordered six San Blas and I six Mexican Bluepoints. We swapped an oyster each. I thought the San Blas were nice, but too delicate and small.The Bluepoints looked just like those I've had in Connecticut and elsewhere in the U.S. but plumper, fresher and more flavorful. The presentation was nice, with two little metal cups, one of Sauce Mignonette and the other, pinkish but unidentified. I preferred a few drops of fresh lemon juice, and nothing else. The bottled salsa picante was killer to the oysters' sea savor, especially to the San Blas'.


Eventually we were called and led to a table in the bustling dining room.


The menu is extensive, and we were hard pressed to choose. Besides the printed menu, there are tempting, and mostly expensive specials written on blackboards.

Blackboard specials
A sampling of entradas
I had a Salmoncito, a  version of a gin and tonic, which wasn't bad, but the additional flavors didn't add that much enjoyment.

"Salmoncito"
The drinks are creative, a must in the highly competitive Colonia Roma bar and restaurant scene.

 The drinks menu
We ordered several starters to share amongst the three of us. The Tostadas de Pulpos were good, although I thought the pulpos themselves lacked flavor. My wife disagreed.


Calamares Romano were just o.k. But Ostiones a las Brasa were sublime.

Calamares Romanos "así así".
Ostiones a las Brasa; ajo, perejil, aceite de olivas








I had a blackboard special of ostiones a las brasas, "toro" (raw fatty tuna belly) and bottarga.
Very good also, although the bottarga was elusive.


For a main course, I had an Oyster Po' Boy. Now, this is a dish in which less may be more desirable than more. The sandwich was made on an artisanal baguette. Good bread, but in my opinion, not the best choice of vehicle for the nice fried oysters. The crusty, chewy bread dominated the delicate oysters. They tended to be smushed. But it wasn't bad, you know, just would have been better if the oysters had a chance to shine. On a later visit, I had an unpleasant encounter with the same bread, in another form.

Looks nice, but the killer bread dominates all.
The hand cut French Fries were good.


The bill, for what was essentially a meal consisting of appetizers and a sandwich, plus drinks, was high. But overall, I thought it worth it. After all, La Docena is not Bisquets, Bisquets Obregón, a couple of blocks, and a world away, and there is no INAPAM (senior discount).

La Cuenta
Act One closes.

Act Two opens.
We returned on Friday for yet another go. We'd barely gotten our sea legs on Wednesday previous.

This time, the wait wasn't as long. The blackboard specials had changed, as one would expect.



While we waited, a mango wagon came by.


A few oysters on the half shell were obligatory.


We then moved on to serious platos fuertes.

Shirley got a Shrimp Po' Boy, which she liked. Sra. Cuevas got a huge pescado huauchinango entero.  I ordered a special of Lonja de Pargo Ibérico. Our waiter suggested it be prepared estilo sarandeado.  I agreed, having wanted to try pescado sarandeado for a long time.

We also ordered vegetales al grill to share, a very good choice indeed.

Vegetales al grill, unmissable.
My Lonja de Pargo was small but attractive, yet after about three mouthfuls, I couldn't stand it. There were too many intense adobos, salsas and seasoning. It was a cacophonous conflict of condiments. To make things worse, I requested bread, and after some time, our waiter brought us some of the baguette, toasted, but so hard as to be nearly inedible. The Mexico City riot police would have liked to have it to shoot at and disperse rioters. These were the exceptions, the two worst dishes we'd had in our three visits.

Lonja de Pargo Sarandeado
Baguette Bullets
Sra. Cuevas's Pescado Entero was awesome. It was simply and deliciously prepared. Grilled with oil, possibly a little garlic, salt and lime juice. There was also a lot of it, and I helped her eat it. The lime and, I think, habanero marinated purple onions and parsley were great touches.


It had seemed daunting at first, but we finished it with aplomb. Highly recommended dish.


I didn't get a photo of the check that time.

Act Two Closes.

Act Three Opens. Monday, April 18, 2016
It was just us, the Cuevas couple; Shirley having left on Sunday. We arrived at opening time, 1:30, and were seated almost immediately.

The food was good, although the oyster options were limited to San Blahs, but I had a dozen anyway.
We ordered Vegetales al Grill, which although good, lacked the sublimity of the first time. No asparagus, no tomato and a thick slab of zucchini was barely cooked.

(I had to think for a moment to recall what we ate. I got some memories back now.)
I had a ribeye steak after the dozen San Blas oysters. Fair steak, not in the class of those at Parrilla y Canilla in Morelia. I think Sra. Cuevas had a coctel de camarones y pulpos.
No, she reminded me that she had a Hamburguesa Clásica, which despite its towering Burguer Bar like construction, was very good.


The envelope, please.

RATINGS

Food: 7-8

Service: 7-8

Cost: $$$+

Ambiance: Hip, noisy, trendy, vibrant.

Recommended dishes: Oysters mixed, Pescado Entero, Ostiones a las Brasas, Vegetales al Grill (on better days.)

Would we return? Definitely, yes!

Location:

 Av. Álvaro Obregón 31, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

Hours: Open today · 1:30PM–1:30AM