Thursday, March 31, 2016

High Flying Fisher's

Calamares Romano
Yesterday, three of us had lunch at Fisher's Morelia branch at Paseo Altozano. Fisher's is one of a chain of high flying seafood restaurants, which I believe originated in the D.F. in 1989.

The Fisher's at Altozano is hidden in a somewhat obscure nook at the back of beyond but is worth seeking out. From the entrance inward, the total experience is one of a high energy vibe. That vibe permeates everything at Fisher's: the very, very attentive service, the delicious but often intensely seasoned food, and the room itself. It is not a place for a quiet, intimate meal for two.

The tiled dining room is large, and there is a smoker's section with an impressive view of the valley. One side houses a large section denominated "Oyster's Bar".

Fisher's is well equipped and ready to take care of your thirst, with beverage stations at strategic points of the room.

As new customers, we were given an especially warm and attentive welcome. We had free seafood tostadas, free sparkling white wine, and later, with an order of coffee, even a free dessert. All that in addition to the bracingly salty and intensely flavored opener Consomé de Camarones, served hot to all guests.

We were also brought bread and totopos. The bread was passable although not distinguished.

I'd studied the online menu, and I pretty much knew ahead what i would order.

For a starter, Trebiche, an elaborate construction of white fleshed fish, salmon and shrimp, cooked in lime juice and dressed with a delicious sauce. But wait! That's not all: I was brought a small glass bottle with milky leche de tigre which the friendly manager punched up with a healthy slug of vodka. It was intended to be poured over the Trebiche. In retrospect, I now think I would have been better to have drunk it, straight from the glass. The dish was good, but there were too many flavors duking it out in the dish. A more significant flaw were the mushy shrimp, left too long in the lime juice. But that did not spoil it for me.

Jennifer ordered Cebiche Peruano, but due to some confusion, I ended up with her dish and got a few bites of it before we realized what had happened. It was simple and refreshing, although one bite of a slice of raw chile Jalapeño convinced me to push the rest to the side.

Sra. Cuevas wisely ordered her standard, a Coctel de Camarones y Pulpos, in the smaller version, served in a beer mug. The larger comes in a chabela or balloon glass.
I had a bite and liked that it was distinctively dressed, free of the typical cloying sweetness of cocteles at other restaurants. (I read on the menu that the ketchup is made in house.)

My entrada, at least, was so large as well as elaborate that I feared I would not have room for a second course. But I managed. I ordered Ostiones en su Jugo al Chipotle. It was served in a modest but attractive clay pottery bowl, and had all the essence which characterized our meal at Fisher's: hot, spicy, smoky and salty. It was compelling and irresistible, but the highly seasoned soup left me gasping at times and reaching for the relief of some agua mineral.

Jennifer ordered a Taco de Pescado, served in a flour tortilla, accompanied by frijoles negros y arroz gualdo. This was probably more interesting in the eating than in the viewing.

Sra. Cuevas has three attractive Tacos de "Cochinita" de Marlin, which were very good, although extreme caution is advised in regard to the wickedly potent Salsa Picante de Chile Habanero Quemado", in the portion cup.

The affable manager offered us free dessert (as if we needed it!), with the purchase of coffee, but I was the only taker. From the dessert menu's often rococo offerings, I chose a fairly simple Natillas. This was reminiscent of Vanilla Cup o' Pudding, not bad, but I've had (and made) much better. The coffee, called a Lecherito and described as a sort of caffe macchiato was innocuous.

The free dessert arrived, a multilayered wedge of puff pastry alternating with some sort of cream. The toasted almonds on top were eagerly nibbled by my companions, but the cake itself languished after a sample bite.

In all, a good experience and I look forward to returning.  Here are the RATINGS

Food: 7-8

Presentation: Very attractively done.

Service: 7  Very attentive, even overly so. But they went all out to welcome us on our first visit.

Ambience: azulejos y acero inoxidable

Rest room: top notch condition

Cost: Our bill totaled $1039 pesos, before tip. That includes various beverages.
You can see the cost per item in the photo below.

Location: Paseo Altozano shopping center, at the end, beyond Sears, and to the right.

Web site:

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Intestinal Fortitude: Menuderías de la Calle Puebla Pátzcuaro

Spice up your menudo with these chiles de árbol
Menudo: over the years, I've had an on again, off again relationship with this gutsy soup of tripe and other innards. I wrote about my history with the stuff in 2007, "Confronting Menudo". When out and about, and in the mood for a hot, spicy soup, I usually choose birria or consomé de cabeza. But once in a while, a bowl of menudo has appeal.

Until recently, I hadn't found a menudería that serves a menudo that truly satisfies. My usual spot has been a very friendly, well located spot, where I am known to the lady proprietress and her pretty daughters, located across from the Plaza F... in Pátzcuaro Centro. While the menudo there isn't bad, it can be underwhelming, at least until you punch up the flavor with several chiles, minced onion, orégano and other condiments. The thick, brown and toasty salsa macha is a real eye waterer, but delicious. The machine made tortillas are brought in, and serve mostly as edible blotting paper. Basically, I go there mostly because it's handily located and I like the people.

More recently, my eyes and palate were newly awakened by a large menudería, across the side street from the famed Tienda Don Chucho's in Lower Pátzcuaro. Menudería Licha's is but one of at least 5 menuderías in close proximity. I call that block "Menudo Row". I've now eaten twice at Licha's. Someday, I'll try the neighboring menudo spots. They look related, due in part that their outside tables are under the same, attractive, bright red canopy. There is another, simpler menudo joint around the corner, just off the main road. Look for the battered metal pots.

Menudería Lupita, Licha's neighbor

The Staff Meal, Under The Red Canopy
Low Overhead Means Low Prices
On my first visit to Licha's, last year, I sat inside in the ample but bare bones dining room. It resembles a bodega more than a dining room. This minimalist décor didn't bother me. It seemed incongruous that I was served by an English–speaking (if I recall correctly) waiter dressed in a chef's jacket uniform. I had the impression that there was a tablecloth on the table. (Surely not a white one? More likely oilcloth). At the end of my meal, the check was presented on a small, rectangular tray.

YES! White tablecloths!
These incongruities of "refinement" should not divert you from the essence of the place.

The first and most noticeably thing about Licha's menudo is the distinct although not overwhelming aroma of the menudo. It's a peculiar, gutsy scent, associated with livestock. Where I once would have found this repugnant, now it was a verification that this menudo was no namby-pamby, watered–down infusion, but the real stuff.

Yesterday, the amply figured proprietress waited on me personally. She asked me my preferences, in order to custom craft a great bowl of menudo. At her suggestion, I had a mix of tripas with a patita deshuesada.* The patita is what gives the soup body. It's fun to nibble on one. This time, it was cut off the bone, so I did not have to inelegantly pick it up with my fingers.

The food arrives quickly and a large orange juice, squeezed to order, not far behind.

The deep red, steaming hot caldo was loaded with chunks of tripes and tender morsels of the deboned cow's foot*. The variety of textures is a great part of the appeal. The caldo was well flavored, but there was also available an good assortment of chiles and condiments for further enhancement.

Menudo as it should be
The tortillas, hechas al comal, were superb, with substance and taste, slightly crisped edges, great with the menudo and great eaten alone, or dabbed with some of the zesty salsa roja de molcajete that lurked menacingly nearby.

Tortillas with character and TASTE
                                     Salsa roja de molcajete


Food: 7 (But only if you like menudo, of course.)

Service: 8. A simple menu means fast service.

Hygiene: Food is served hot, backup salsas are kept refrigerated; employees wear hair nets. Employees eat the stuff at the staff meal, so it must be good. Although I did see the tortillera lady eating a cup of flavored yogurt.

Ambience: Down home, South of the Border, with refined touches. Outside tables have benches. Inside, wooden chairs. Friendly. The young woman who made and brought my juice was pretty. That's always a plus in my estimation.

Cost: Bargain! Small bowl, $40 pesos, large, $50. With a large orange juice, my bill was $75 pesos. The café de olla is decent.

Location: Calle Puebla at corner of Carretera Federal 14. Across from Tienda Don Chucho's.

Parking: plenty of free street parking, across the highway, facing the newly opened Museo de la Ruta Don Vasco, or up Calle Puebla.

Hours: ¿Quien sabe?  Maybe 8:00 a.m. until 12:30-1:00 p.m. Get there sooner for the best parts. On the other hand, I contend that these long–simmering caldos get better with the hours.

UPDATE: There is some affiliation between Licha's and Lupita's, although their menudo has subtle differences, as eaten on separate occasions. I don't pretend to understand this.