Earlier this week, an upscale regional Mexican restaurant opened in Noe Valley at the old Alcatraces location. I read the menu one morning and became enormously excited. Dinner included DF quesadillas, sopes, huitlacoche, several moles, fish a la veracruzana, rajas, tinga, and much more. Weekday lunch very much the same, along with takeout tacos and burritos. Brunch included chilaquiles, huevos (divorciados, rancheros, and more), birria, pozole, and other Mexican specialties. All week I was looking forward to trying the place--I had at least one dinner and one brunch planned.
But I had dinner there on Friday night and was utterly heartbroken and even cancelled the brunch.
Most everything we had was poor.
- Chips, while they tasted good and fresh, were sliced into thin strips that were useless for dipping.
- Table salsa (only one available) was tomato sauce with barely perceptible hints of jalapeño.
- Sopes were nearly inedible: bean and huitlacoche were pasty, rajas were smothered in unpleasant cream and cheese mixture, and I can't even recall the third.
- Tostaditas with shredded meat (bland) were topped with overly acidic mixed greens. The shells, like the chips, were very tasty though.
- Quesadillas (one cheese, one chorizo, one mushroom) were very bland.
- Crepas de huitlacoche contained mostly flavorless filling and were topped lots of browned cheese.
There were a couple items that were okay, but nothing special
- Guacamole that came with the quesadillas was fresh and pretty good.
- The mole negro sauce was pretty good: slight bitterness of dried chiles and fairly complex. Not the best ever, but pretty good. The main problem here is that the leg and thigh of chicken meat were grilled and topped with sauce just before serving, leaving to chance for the flavors to combine.
Our server did ask for our thoughts, and we were mostly upfront about them. The table next to us of four Mexicans shared similar views. We suspect that the chef is trying to adjust to American tastes, failing in that quest and ruining good Mexican food in the process. Hopefully our words got back to the kitchen. I'm going to try to talk to the chef directly and convince him to quit fooling around and to make the food correctly. My head was swimming with the dream of having a good regional Mexican restaurant in my part of the bay area, so I'm going to put a little effort into it.
I'll probably try them again in a month or so, to see if they change. But for now, I recommend all hounds stay away from the dinner. As I said, I didn't have the heart to try brunch...maybe it's better but I'm not counting on it.
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