"Any meal with a fellow chowhound is an excellent meal..." to misquote once again GWIV, to whom I will owe royalties soon if I keep this up.
Gush coming, so any that prefer an ill-humored post may now leave.
Thursday, Mugs posted that Restaurante Amanecer Tapatio would have Pollo con crema on Friday, and given the Bride's fondness for any dish including mushrooms and cream, I knew we had to go. And it had been way too long since we had last visited Amanecer, so it was time, in any case, to get the New Year off to a good start.
Off we set to Joliet, over some small complaints from the Bride, who keenly looked forward to the Pollo con crema she had been promised, but only once in the car realized we were heading for "that little joint in the strip mall with the greasy food." An intrepid Chowhound must proceed, so after a brief marital negotiation, we continued on our way.
Imagine our delight, as we came through the door, to be greeted by none other than Mugs, intrepid Chowhound of the south and west, himself. I must speculate on how he knew us, perhaps the 2 gringos hauling a bottle of wine was a hint. He was finishing his meal as we arrived, so after brief introductions to his dining companions and the proprietress, Monica, we retired to our adjacent tables.
The food was, as you guessed, almost uniformly excellent on this visit. The Pollo con crema was a nicely tender leg and thigh in a subtle cream sauce with a touch of chipotle to give the slightest tang, putting my Bride in mind of a Paprikash. I must agree, and say it compared favorably with some nicely done presentations at Chilpancingo. High praise, indeed. The meal, amazingly, went up from there. I had the Tortitas en Chile Verde. A nicely brown patty of egg, with a tiny bit of chicken in a vinegary green sauce with a decent bite of chile. Very, very good. The bride who arrived quite hungry (she had saved herself for the Pollo con crema, after all) ordered a Guacamole to start, and I ordered a carne asada sope. They came after our main courses, but we easily forgave the engaging Monica. The sope was effective but uninspired. The Guacamole came as dessert, and only later did I realize that the Bride had ordered it special, as none is offered on the menu, and they had made it from scratch just for us. Freshly peeled and mashed avocado, minced cilantro leaves, touches of tomato, citrus and chile. Nicely mixed, and with each flavor standing on its own. A paragon of restaurant Guacamole, and in fact one I would be quite proud to serve at my house. We planned to take it home, but Mugs bid adieu to his companions and came over to join us for some conversation, and a delightful exchange ensued, during which the Guacamole disappeared mysteriously.
Monica also came by, and we learned her parents hail from Mexico and Jalisco, and most of their food would be estilo Jalisco, though the Pollo con crema is a more cosmopolitan concoction that one would find in the capital (David H, please note the alliteration). Business is good (as it seemed that Friday night), and Mum does the cooking. Specials are determined each morning when Mum visits the market and sees what strikes her eye, so it is rare that they can predict what they will be serving the next night. But on this day Monica was allowed to do the shopping and chose to go the previous evening. Though Mum's approach seems better, I cannot complain about the results.
Mugs received a full dose of Chowhound gossip, and turns out to be a public transport user on his Chicago visits, particularly impressed by ReneG's wanderings and notes. We are working on a cooperative transport arrangement to get him to a city-side chow confab - just get yourself to I55 and Lemont, Mugs, and I will happily handle the rest.
As for Restaurante Amanecer Tapatio, hie thee to Joliet, hounds, even if Mugs does not greet you at the door. 573-575 Collins St., Joliet, 815-727-4001, on the W side of Collins at the N end of a three-store mall which includes a bedding store and a video arcade-pool hall. The bride did find the fluorescent lights unnecessarily bright, and the lard-cooked frijoles greasy, but otherwise was well pleased with her meal.
Mugs also suggested we recess to the Public Landing in Lockport for dessert, which we did, tho my previous impressions of the place were less than great. The room is still lovely, and dessert was quite good, so I may need to give it another chance.
Thank you for the rec & company, Mugs,