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Baltimore: Tampico first visit--stay away


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Baltimore: Tampico first visit--stay away

Eclectivore | Aug 11, 2003 11:55 AM

Four of us visited the new Tampico restaurant on Charles Street last Friday evening. The details will be supplied at length below, but the summary evaluation is: mediocre food, excessively noise, and execrable service.
We arrived about 7:45 and after attracting the attention of the hostess were told it would be about a ten minute wait, which proved accurate. The place is attractive. When we were shown to a table, she never bothered to give us menus for everyone; fortunately we had swiped two from the desk to peruse while waiting. Our table was next to a window and near the attractive bar. A great place for people watching. Immediately upon being seated we discovered some problems with the overall design. First, all the surfaces are hard, with no sound-absorbing materials, and the place is very, very noisy. It is hard to carry on a conversation. Secondly, our table was on top of a vent, and those of us directly over the vent got chilled. A third design flaw is that the architect stupidly arranged for the waitstaff order and pickup area at the bar to be at the very front of the restaurant. A waitdroid must jostle through the crowd at the bar, then through the crowd
waiting to be seated, to order drinks, then push back through to the tables, and repeat this procedure to pick up the drinks.
After about five minutes at the table a waitress came by and gave us water. She did not offer to take drink orders, but we asked to order drinks and appetizers. She was totally unfamiliar with the menu, not knowing if certain dishes contained cilantro (one of our party is allergic). She admitted that it was her second night at the restaurant; we later surmised it was her second night waiting tables. We were informed that the bar was already out of stock of one of the draft beers.
She was very slow about putting in the drink order. They arrived about 20 minutes later. One of our party had ordered a frozen margarita; it came without any triple sec in it. He asked for a replacement, which arrived ten minutes later without salt. We did order four appetizers and four main courses.
After 45 minutes from the time we sat down, one of the appetizers appeared, but the other appetizers were still not served. This was a "Bayless Salad" of greens, jicama, and orange with an undistinguished dressing. We inquired of the hostess (the waitress was rather hard to locate most of the time) about the other appetizers, and after another ten minutes they arrived, the three we had ordered and one we didn't (which we did not send back). The fried calamari were small and grey, underbreaded, and rather like a small plate of rubber bands. An order of stuffed jalapenos were hardly stuffed at all, but exceedingly hot, even for those of us who like spicy food. An order of empanadas was the best, flavorful and moist. They and the calamari were accompanied by a very hot sauce which had lots of chili but little flavor. During all this the waitress never asked if things were alright, nor offered to get more drinks, nor apologized for the delay.
About 90 minutes after we sat down, the hostess came us to say that our orders were being prepared, and, incredibly, stated that the problem was that the cooks didn't "know how to make this kind of food" !!!! About another ten minutes later, the courses arrived, but not together. One was chilies rellenos; the person who had them said they were OK, with a tasty sauce (inelegantly slopped onto the plate); oddly, these were not accompanied by anything: no beans, no greens, no rice, nada. Another course was a marinated strip steak, which was acceptable. An order of beef fajitas was tough and not marinated; it was accompanied by the
usual condiments, except that what they called pico de gallo was not, or was at best what pico de gallo would be if pureed with extremely spicy chilies, and it was an unappetizing yellow-brown slush. Again neither the waitress nor the hostess asked if things were alright.
After this experience we did not order desserts, but left having spent almost three hours there. And we will not return.

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