Bought myself a laptop for my birthday. Got a Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker from the parents, totally awesome. Gonna make some rice tonight in celebration. Was out too late waiting for the roommate to finish up some stuff, so I decided to risk going out for birthday dinner (it’s Valentines day, I don’t get to eat out on my birthday very often), and went to a new place purporting to be New Mexico style mexican up on Lombard named Encanto. I posted my review on portlandfood, but I’ll repost it here because it’s worth keeping.
Well, I went Wednesday night (my birthday, I can’t believe how many people celebrate it). Showed up without reservations at about 6:30, and was seated immediately. Sat down in the middle of a bare floored space that could have easily held another… I’m going to say seven tables. Probably more, I didn’t get a good look at the area back by the bar. A very cheerful hostess seated us, then a woman came by to drop off cold water. To call her manner “efficient” would imply some level of warmth, and frankly, efficiency it didn’t have. Nobody came to take a drink order. The waitress at one point hurried fully around our table three times in a row, never saying a word to us. The miniature kitchen type cubby hole bristled with people working very hard, I counted at least five.
I studied the menu, which reeks less of Santa Fe via Taos and more of Santa Fe via Los Angeles, is separated into two sections: Dessert and Untitled. We chose:
Sopaipillas with honey butter
Enchiladas (with options of cheese – $10, roasted vegetable – $12, and beef – $15), my roommate chose the veggies.
The lamb sofrito with the squash.
I picked drink called an Eldorado, which was a tequila lemondrop with honey, as tequila is in fact the Birthday Booster (not to be confused with the Burger Booster).
The roommate picked an iced tea.
The waitress returned with a gracious, effervescent “What are you getting” and then stared off into space. We ordered, drinks, dinner, and sopaipillas (which ended up being treated as an appetizer, as I had figured) at that time. My drink came out, it was a fair to middling beverage, heavy on the tequila, but serviceable. The iced tea was about three ounces of liquid in a glass filled to the brim with ice.
The honey butter was delicious, but served as hard lumps of butter instead of whipped, which I would have prefered, as it would have made it easier to spread on the sopaipillas and faster to melt into it. The waitress came to fill up waters around the table, making a pretty good impression by spilling water onto the floor, splashing it around enough that it got onto my pantleg and my roommates jacket.
I should state for the record that this woman really “broke” the whole experience. The food was OK, the service pissed me the hell off.
Around this time, they were starting in on their dinner rush, turning people away with talk of 25 minute wait times, even as they were clearing tables and resetting them. Our apps came out. Turns out the roasted vegetable enchiladas meant “three thin cheese enchiladas with some roasted vegetables on top”. The nice, thin cut carrots were only barely cooked, the squash was done until it was mushy, and there was something else, onions I think. I smelled frozen bag mix, immediately. I could be wrong, but they weren’t roasted either. The beans were just OK, the enchilada sauce was tasty. The rice was pretty tasty. My sofrito was served with a mix of summer squash and zucchini instead of chayote, which wasn’t mentioned at any point. The lamb was great, very tender and flavorful, there was only one piece of it that was a fat-and-vein bit I think should have been on the trim pile instead of in the dish, and really at this point in the meal that was impressive. I had finished my drink, and the waitress came past to ask if I needed another, I said yes. About ten minutes later she came by to inform me that the bartender was a little backed up but it would be right out. She returned briefly with what could only be called some lemon pulp in tequila, going from the “pretty strong” reaction I had to the first to hazy memories of nights spent across the border in Nogales drinking tequila from the end of a tube. We both decided not to try the dessert, which was sponge cake soaked in sweet cream (I think, I can’t really remember).
When the check showed up, it was $45 for the two of us to eat. I can’t believe they are charging $12 for those enchiladas, it should be $10 on the outside for both the cheese and the veggie. My drinks were charged as a more expensive drink, it was only $.50 per, but it was enough to piss me off a bit. The waitress ended up getting 10%, as I’m not asshole enough to stiff someone on valentines day, but I hope she’s saving her pennies for when she is looking for work again. In short, the meals value ratio was horrible, and even taking the money out of the equation, I wasn’t happy with it. While we were waiting for the ticket, a gentleman in an apron came out and started seating the increasingly upset crowd standing in the doorway at tables that had been empty for 10-15 minutes for no readily apparent reason.
Blech. Not New Mexico mexican (seafood? creme fraiche? nothing was remotely hot), not really mexican (like Taco Bell’s new banners advertise, Mexican-inspired), not really good (everything was OK, but they all had some level of wonkiness. I assume the green chile pork stew would have something crazy in it like celery sticks with cream cheese), so it gets a neat line through it on my list. Like I said, it wasn’t bad, and I hope they get their shit together, and that someone takes that waitress off to the side and explains what customer service is about.