Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just Call Me Zagat’s

**Husband’s oral surgery went well, and though he’s had some pain issues, he is doing fine. Thank you for your prayers. We’ve all needed them!"**

We recently went to a restaurant and had an experience I must share with you. Maybe it’s because I worked for a restaurant. Maybe I’ve watched Ratatouille with Caedmon too many times lately. The food critic in me just can’t let it go. And the SNL Zagat’s sketch is one of my favorites of all time.

We love Mexican food. So when we were out of town recently, we went to a Mexican restaurant that was recommended by a friend. We trusted him. The restaurant looked nice. The decor was pretty cool and it was busy. We thought those were good indications.

Looks are deceiving.

First, we were there with a group, so the servers had to pull some tables together to accommodate us. No big deal, right? Except that they used three small tables (for eight of us). The two end tables were round, the center table was square. Awkward. Also? We were sitting next to the bar.

We ordered drinks, cheese dip, and guacamole. Can’t go wrong, there, right? Wrong. The people who ordered sodas were brought glasses of ice and canned cokes. Weird, but ok, we can deal with that. The guacamole was made fresh at our table, and it was good. The salsa was ketchup-y. I am not a fan of ketchup-y salsa. Somehow, one of the guys managed to mix the two salsas and guacamole to concoct an edible substance.

The cheese dip, however, looked like canned nacho cheese with a little Rotel mixed in. I am a fan of Rotel dip, but I’m told this stuff didn’t resemble it at all. I didn’t get to taste it. Lucky me. The chips, though a decent delivery system, weren’t that great either.

Since we have a habit of preliminarily judging a Mexican restaurant on the basis of its salsa and chips, things were not looking good. But we knew our trusted friend had recommended this place, so we decided to put those mishaps aside and give the food a chance.

After we placed our orders, we chatted and had a great time together. Also, we all tried not to stare and laugh too loudly at the couple at the bar behind us that was mugging down. There also might or might not have been an attempt or two to imitate the people behind us.

I’d ordered Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas. They arrived, and the sour cream sauce was almost green, but not quite. It was a special color of yellow-green usually reserved for bodily fluids. Certainly not something you’d normally put in your mouth. Also, I couldn’t find the spinach until I got into the middle of the enchilada. And boy did I find it. Big, giant leaves of spinach. And though edible, it wasn’t that great.

Husband’s Beef & Chicken Fajitas “Picante” were the most hilarious plate of food I may have ever seen. They were delivered on an oval plate, with the canned-looking cheese dip around the edge of the plate as a bed under the meat. There was a “rice altar” in the middle of the plate. And the whole thing was covered with fried onions. Not crispy-fried like you’d put on top of a green bean casserole. Fried, skinny strips of onion that were floppy and brown.

Our friend who ordered the plain fajitas was met with a surprise as well. His came with thin slices of fried potato on top. I don’t know about you, but when I think fajitas, I think floppy, greasy, fried potato and/or onion slices.

And the nachos one of our friends ordered? They were literally 8 whole chips with refried beans and giant slices of chicken on top of each chip. She needed to eat each nacho like a pizza slice. It was one of the most awkward things I’ve ever seen.

We would’ve taken pictures, but I think we were too stunned.

Husband built a beef fajita and bit into it. Then promptly had to strategically spit it out and put it back on his plate. The meat was so tough and gummy, there would be no biting through it. So he moved on to the chicken, in which he immediately found a bone.

Apparently at this place, you must specify if you want your fajitas boneless.

At that exact moment, our server came by and asked Husband if he liked his fajitas. I don’t know if he’d been watching us snicker, point, and laugh at our food or had actually heard Husband crunch down on his bone, but he swooped in pretty quickly. Husband told the guy everything was fine and no sooner had he left than the manager came over. “How’s everything tonight, folks?” We didn’t know what to say. I think I pretended to be eating and gave a thumbs up.

All we could do was laugh. None of us had ever experienced a conglomeration of bad like we were having that night.

Meanwhile, the amorous couple at the bar behind Husband were still heating things up and the people with cokes got refills fresh cans. Our server had to know something was off, because he was constantly asking how we were doing. We paid (and tipped) and left, each of us mentally composing a text to our friend who recommended this restaurant. The most shocking thing was that when we walked out, there were no less than 20 people waiting to get in. We were baffled.

We are not foodies. We are not food snobs. And we are not picky. But the fact that there were 20 plus people waiting to get into that restaurant sent us all into fits of laughter. And lucky us, our car was parked right by the front door, so we were doing our  best not to laugh at the people standing around in the 100 degree heat waiting for a seat inside.

Here’s the deal. Yeah, our friend recommended a crappy place and we will never ever again go to any restaurant he says is good. Yeah, our food was questionable, if not inedible. But it was not our server’s fault. It really wasn’t the manager’s fault, either.

We could’ve pitched a fit and been ugly and hateful. But that really wouldn’t have gotten us anywhere. We could’ve been loud and obnoxious about things, but that wouldn’t have done anyone any good and we would’ve looked like morons. The best thing we could do was thank them and leave. And never, ever go back.

We bonded with our friends that night. I mean, sharing a meal is one thing. But sharing a bad meal is another. And going somewhere else for dessert? That’s even better.

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  1. I swear my beef burrito was hamburger helper without the helper. I don't even think they added salt.

  2. Anonymous1:26 PM

    I'm hoping this place doesn't exist in Texas


  3. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Oh it does exist in Texas. It does.