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Zocalo, Upper East Side: Thumbs down

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Zocalo, Upper East Side: Thumbs down

Josh Mittleman | May 24, 2003 10:10 AM

Prompted by a review by Grimes last September, we had dinner at Zocalo on E. 82nd St. last night; and it was a serious disappointment.

Not an absolute failure: The appetizers were quite good, plantain empanadas, halibut ceviche (oddly served as a single lump of meat rather than small pieces), and calamari with chorizo. At the other end of the meal, the desserts were pretty good, particularly the flan.

But the main dishes were an unmitigated failure. Roasted pork ribs were greasy and tasteless, with a sauce that tasted like it came from a bottle; limped, greasy onion rings; and baked beans that could have come from a can. Roasted chicken mole was a nice piece of chicken, but the mole was nasty; and the accompanying squash tasted like wet cardboard. The one dish that was decent was seared tuna with a ginger sauce; but it was completely uninspired and lacked even a hint of Mexican spicing.

The ribs and chicken were dishes that Grimes raved about in his review. He also described the place as "festive" but noted that the noise wasn't too bad in the back. In fact, it was roaringly loud. Converation was impossible. And the prices were about 20% above what he reported. So I wonder: Has the place just given up on quality in the past 8 month and cashed in on the review, or is Grimes wholly unreliable?

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