I much prefer posting about interesting new finds. However, last Friday night's meal at Ciudad was so bad I really have to write about it. Particularly in light of the fact that I had scrolled through a number of messages from other hounds, just before going, that suggested I would be in for a good meal. Not so. In fact, it was one of the worst meals I have had in a restaurant in recent memory.
It started out okay. Our waiter seemed competent and friendly, and the flat breads that greated us at the table were good, albeit the complimentary humous was watery. But the olive spread was fine.
Waiter talked us through the cocktail menu, suggesting that their double margarita had recently been voted "the best in downtown." I didn't ask by whom. In any case, that was what my recently-turned-twenty-one daughter ordered. My wife and I had the mojitos. They were fine, but the margarita (at $14, BTW!) was way too sweet to discern any of the supposedly high quality ingredients.
We then ordered the $14 tapas platter. It was a dull assortment of cooked items that tasted of the refrigerator and, others, like the jamon serrano, that showed no particular cooking skill. The spiced almonds tasted stale and probably the only truly successful item was the olives! The experience was not improved when the bus person removed my wife's and daughter's appetizer plates when there was still plenty of food on the main platter that I was still in the process of sampling. She did apologize later, however, when she tried to remove my only half emply mojito glass.
When it came time to order the mains, I wanted the paella valenciana. Our waiter talked me out of it, saying it was his least favorite item. I don't know why I listened to him, but I then tried for the short ribs; they were 86 (this, at 7:00 p.m.)! I finally settled on the seared ahi tuna with fingerling potatoes. My wife ordered the Halibut Vericruzana, served in a light broth and our daughter ordered the Brazilian moqueca.
I can't say enough bad things about the ahi. Although it was cooked to an appropriate medium rare, the salsa type coating encrusting it was mostly unpleasant and bitter. The so-called fingerlings were plain russets that were both dried out and undercooked at the same time.
My wife fared somewhat better with her halibut; although the fish itself was completely bland, the broth was not unpleasant. My daughter's Brazilian take on a Thai-style stew of shellfish and rice in a coconut milk broth would, however, have been much more interesting in a Thai restaurant. I don't mean this necessarily as a criticism of Brazilian cuisine or, for that matter, even Ciudad's execution of this dish. It's just that the Thai versions of this kind of thing are so much more interesting and, since it's a relatively short menu, why don't they do something else?
Finally to dessert. We ordered the $9, three small portion sampler. The waiter, sensing the disappointment with our entrees, supersized it for us. We had the diablo fudge cake, the pineapple upside down cake and the goat milk flan. The fudge cake was dry, but serviceable. The pineapple upside down cake made us wonder why anyone bothered. The flan, however, was outstanding; rich, creamy, wonderfully textured and beautifuly complimented by its caramel sauce.
So, three cocktails, 1 tapas platter, 3 mains, 1 dessert plate = $131.00 pre tip.
Others have mentioned the excessive noise level but we didn't really find it a problem. On the other hand, having arrived at 7:00, we were gone before 8:00. Maybe it gets louder later. I'll never find out.
Sorry for such a long rant. It's just that there are so many good places to eat for your money, and so little time (and money, too, for that matter)!