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A good day for a Chowhound in Redwood City…La Casita Chilanga and Tarboosh Report.

veebee | Nov 21, 2005 09:15 AM

I had to go to Redwood City for work on Friday and I’ve been all hopped up to try La Casita Chilanga ever since I learned on Chowhound that every torta sandwich I’ve ever had was on the wrong bread because this is the only place that uses the correct telera rolls. I love the wrong tortas so I figured the right ones couldn’t be half bad.

La Casita Chilanga:
I ordered the Milanese figuring it’s a good basic litmus test. It was truly tasty. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed. It was one good sandwich, but my expectations were pretty elevated. The portions of the sandwich that had full ingredient coverage were nearly flawless, but it was big bread with a small amount of stuff on it. The meat was thinly pounded and breaded and fried to a crisp. I could taste the dried herbs used in the breading perhaps more than I would have liked. The bread was nicely buttered and toasted so that it was warm and soft with a delicate crunch. A shmear of what tasted to be chipotle mayo, slices of avocado and another shmear of refried beans along with a few crumbles of queso fresco finished the picture. Oh yea, and tomatoes, and not really great ones this time of year, but ok in this application. Anyway, the good bites were really good and the bites that lacked coverage I mostly left on the plate, which was fine since I needed to save room for dinner in just 3 ½ hours. Oh, and the horchata. It was the best I’ve had, as good as the homemade versions I’ve tried. The place is cute and homey and very friendly. If it were near my house, I’d probably spend too much time there.

Early dinner at Tarboosh:
Thanks to Melanie for the recommendation. We didn’t try a lot here because there were only two not very hungry people, one a vegan and we had a play to catch. Everything we did try was fantastic.

I had the Ferri (quail) all to myself. Split and grilled with a nice smoky char to the skin. It had a lemony cilantro pesto like substance on top. Just a simple tasty little bird on a bed of shredded lettuce, with some lemon slices on the side. The menu says sautéed, but I would have sworn it was grilled. Quail is perhaps not the best flesh to order when dining with a vegan. I felt I needed some sort of “vegan shield” to avoid having my friend witness the spectacle of me gnawing on that tiny little bird skeleton.

We shared 3 vegetarian apps, which we both liked a lot:
The Moossakaa, [sic] which was sort of a stew of eggplant, chickpea and onions, a completely different dish than the Greek version. I detected a fragrance/flavor I couldn’t place. It reminded me of saffron, but it wasn’t saffron. What could it be?

Foole M’damas (simmered fava and garbanzo beans) This was my favorite. It was addictive. Creamy and complex with a nice bright lemon note to bring it together. Scoop it up with the warm pita bread provided.

Vegetarian Kibbeh: Fried little torpedo shaped pockets of cracked wheat had a bit of a hush puppy texture and were stuffed with spinach, onions and chickpeas.

Notes on service:
The first glass of Chianti they brought me tasted as if it had been open for weeks. They brought me a fresh one without fuss. The only real problem was that our server, who was nice enough, had a severe case of attention deficit disorder. He wasn’t actually waiting on people in any sort of organized fashion, but wandering around and looking at tables and rushing off to get things he’d forgotten. The owner (I think) had to take our order himself because the waiter was walking around the empty restaurant talking on the phone. He didn’t get off even after the owner said something to him and gestured in our direction. Our food came out of the kitchen fine. After we were finished, the waiter checked back (for the first time) and asked if we wanted dessert. We said we were finished and asked for our check because we had to leave. The check came 10 minutes later and our plates were never cleared. We were nearly late for the play and I had to practically ring us up myself. The other waiters, in the by then busy restaurant, were looking askance at our waiter’s tables, but made no move to do anything. I don’t think anyone bore us any ill will and I was in too good of a mood to let it upset me, but the guy probably shouldn’t be waiting tables. I’d definitely go back for the food.

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