Last night's dinner at Mancora was disappointing. I had the roast pork, a dish I've previously enjoyed.
The presentation blew me away. Carefully arranged on a navy blue plate were disks of orange sweet potato drizzled with bright purple sauce, yellow rice, paper thin slices of red onion and finely diced tomato, and a generous serving of pork smothered in a rich brown sauce.
The meat was different this time. The old version was made of thick slices of pork roast. This time, the dish was made of paper-thin slices of pork belly. Each slice was half flabby white fat. The sauce was delicious. Rice was okay, but cold. The sweet potatoes were also cold.
My boyfriend had the Peruvian skirt steak, ordered rare, but served medium-well. I think he liked the fries. He also ordered a capirhina, which he described as good, but not nearly as good as the ones we used to get at Mancora. The old ones were served in highball glasses and mixed with fresh citrus. The new incarnation is served in a parfait glass and sour mix has replaced the fresh lime juice.
We shared the capers ceviche as an appetizer. A clever cross between gravlax, ceviche, and salad nicoise. Raw salmon, yams, potatoes, dressed in a vinaigrette and garnished with capers. The dish would have been brilliant if the salmon had been ceviche quality, but it wasn't, it was greasy and fishy.
Last week, we had some mediocre takeout from Mancora. The roast chicken was as good as ever, but the papaya ceviche was made with some really tough, fibrous fish that I didn't like at all.
My overall impression is that Mancora is skimping on ingredients. The dishes are assembled with the same skill and care as always. Their knifework, for example, is outstanding. Each ingredient in a sauce or marinade is cut to the optimum size for texture and visual appeal--unlike some places that just chop everything more or less the same size.
Has anyone else noticed a slump at Mancora lately?