Last night Janet and I went to Ceiba, with Joe H. and Carol, and Roe P. Overall, our expectations were met, tho we agreed is was not at the level to do backflips over, at least not yet. It was a 7:30 to 10 PM meal.
Janet and I arrived last, and the others were already at the bar. The scene there was lively, with nice looking drinks and lots of appetizers floating in. I didn't sample any drinks, but it looked worth a visit. Maybe Joe will have a comment.
We were fortunate to have one of the two tables at the outer corner of the restaurant facing the street. Worth asking for when booking. Service was good tho the jackets looked as if they needed a pressing.
For appetizers we tried all the featured ceviches, plus the duck empanada, the hot lava queso fundito, and the chicharrones. Presentation, especially the queso, was very good. The ceviches were all interesting, each in a kicked up sauce which complemented the particualr type of fish (shrimp, tuna, stripped bass, and halibut. Quality was excellent. Definitely a must.
The other appetizers were also very good. The duck was shredded confit, purposely on the dry side and full of flavor especially with its accompanying mojo. Chicharones were outstanding, a bit non-traditional being glazed with a ginger sauce. The queso served in the hot lava pot was a bit disappointing, being fairly mild in flavor, perhaps due to the mildness of the Oaxacan cheese--the shaved beef added an interesting contrast however.
We each had a different entree, four seafood (spiny lobster, snapper Vera Cruz, shellfish moqueca, and sugar cane shrimp) and the feijoada of pork shank. The shellfish all had big flavors, either sweet or buttery depending on the dish. The snapper was good but mild--Joe feels his own is better, and I don't doubt him (ever). The "feijoada" was also somewhat mild, and didn't have much accompanying sides as a traditional one would--the pork itself was melting-off-the-bone, which to me is good.
For desert we all shared a single order of fried dough with chocolate-cream dip, the name of which escapes me. Good, especially for those who like chocolate in moderation.
With two wines from menu and one corkage the total bill came to $310 before tip. The wine list is good and the prices are reasonable, similar to other Jeff Tunks places.
Overall, good to very good but not spectacular. More spice would be nice to satisfy the chowhound palate. An effort worth watching as the menu is tweeked.
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