I am just back from a very disappointing dinner at Manuel's Downtown - a place I have always loved but have not been to for a while. The menu looks much smaller and the prices way higher than I remember. I got there before my dining companion arrived so had a Margarita and shrimp cocktail at the bar. The Margarita was excellent, as were the pico and the guacamole in the shrimp cocktail. The shrimp however were atrocious, clearly pre-cooked, frozen and then thawed - thin, soggy and miserable, The chile relleno del mar, I had for a main course looked beautiful but was not much better - the seafood was bland and watery with rubbery scallops, the rice undercooked and chewy and not in a good way. My companion's mole enchiladas were arguably worse- way too much cumin and no chile heat at all. Has there been a change in the cooking staff? i have many fond memories of food at this place. I am left wondering has La Condesa so raised the bar on Mexican food downtown that I am now spoiled or is Manuel's in precipitous decline?
It was a beautiful evening and downtown looked magnificent. The Austonian only has a few floors to go. The menu at Cork and Co. next door looked interesting as did the menu across the street at Annies, which looked like it was getting the finishing touches. i am very excited by how culinarily vibrant downtown Austin is becoming, and I want the old stalwarts to hold their own. But Manuel's tonight was BAD. What gives?