I am just back from Mexico City for the Thanksgiving weekend with a friend, and wanted to report that I had a very disappointing meal at Hacienda de los Morales. I had searched this board before I went to see if there were any negative comments, as I ate there last 12 years ago and was concerned it might be touristy or not very good. Not finding any comments that the food was bad, I figured it might make a nice place for dinner on Thanksgiving night, since it is such a traditional, formal place.
As readers of this post likely know, the building is a huge converted Hacienda, and is visually very appealing. The dining room was formal and attractive,but the sconces on the walls were way too bright, shining right in my friend's eye. Although the Hacienda is beautiful, it was less special feeling than when I last ate there 12 years ago. The grounds felt almost like Disneyland or a convention center in Vegas, with large signs and arrows. I think the Harris Ranch restaurant off Highway 5 near Coalinga in California would almost be an apt comparison (though the dining rooms at Hacienda are admittedly much nicer).
The service was efficient and attentive, I will give it that. It was also rushed and heavy-handed. I understand that the style of service at a traditional place like this is more intrusive than my taste of contemporary American service where the server's job is to be unintrusive while attentive. But the waiter just loomed over our table - it was uncomfortable. We wanted to take our time reading the enormous menu and to discuss wine and food, but it felt awkward to have the waiter basically standing three feet away looking at us as we did so. We had a 9 o'clock table, so I don't even think they needed to turn the table. It was just clumsy.
The food was served very quickly after ordering, and the second course arrived so quickly that our first plates were removed simultaneously -- very inappropriate in an environment like this.
I will go so far as to say that the food was actually terrible. For the first course, I ordered crepes with squash blossoms in green sauce and my friend had soup. The Crepes were fine - the sauce was okay, if one-dimensional. My friend said his soup was okay, but had a funny aftertaste. For main courses we both had steaks. His was served with huitacolche and goat cheese, and mine was stuffed with some shredded meat and served with a one-dimensional, boring red sauce. Tasted like it was from a can. We both ordered our steaks medium-rare. My friend's piece of meat was raw in the middle. Mine was welldone. My meat was tough. Neither cut of meat was of high quality. He sent his steak back to be cooked more, and of course it returned well done. I would have sent mine back, but the sauce was so boring and overwhelming, I really would not have enjoyed the steak even it was not chewy, tough and dry. The only bright note was a side of asparagus that tasted pretty good.
My friend is from New York and I am from San Francisco & LA and we both worked in the food service industry for years. I was not expecting the food to be fresh, modern cuisine, but it should be well-executed traditional food. Instead it tasted like banquet food at an enormous wedding.
I would NEVER go back.
I did enjoy my tacos at El Chifla or whatever that taco place is called on Nuevo Leon and Armando Reyes in Condessa.
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