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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Back to NYC: La Camelia

Being a Texan, I can almost always be engaged to try a new interior Mexican restaurant.  The defunct Park Slope La Camelia has moved to the West Village under same ownership and it always had positive reviews in Brooklyn. 

The atmosphere is a little bland and what decor does exist, doesn't have any originality.  Everything seems bought from Best Buy or Home Depot.  Note: dark paint and 'mahogoney' furniture does not equal mod (see Nuela in Flatiron, they do it right).

We start with Guacamole en Molcajete.  It is 'made to order', yet not made in front of you, and served on lava rock Molacajete.  Sounds fancy, no?  It was bad.  Very bad.  I'm not shooting for Rosa Mexicana-style, but for $12, it better be pretty damn close.  This probably was made with 2-2.5 avocados, was watery and had TONS of lime.  Yuck!

Luckily, the entrees were good, but far from great and the presentation was nothing special.  Since I was completely turned off from the guac, I went the non-traditional route and ordered fish.

Guachinango (Red Snapper fillet sauteed with onions, capers, olives and fresh tomato sauce)- It was tasty, and the ingredients were there, but there was nothing harmonious about the dish.

Enchilada de Pollo Mole Poblano (rolled corn tortillas stuffed with chicken and topped with Mole Sauce)- Again, the ingredients are there, but nothing pulling them together.

Enchilada de Queso (rolled corn Tortillas stuffed with cheese and topped with a green tomatillo sauce)- definitely the binding of the dish was the best of the three, but was hoping for the tomatillo sauce to have a bit of bite.

One plus: decent chips and salsa

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Fork in the Road: Restaurante Tulhas Bar (Sintra, Portugal)

Sitting in the small town of Sintra, right below the National Palace, is Tulhas Restaurant.  This dark, tiled, Medieval restaurant was quite charming as the owner's granddaughter was jumping around shouting in Portuguese that she 'has a new baby sister!'

Aside from the croquettes I had consumed, this was the only bacalau (salted cod) dish I ate...and it was magnificent!  The bacalau was baked in a bechamel sauce with potatoes, onions and served with pao.  Rich, creamy and piping hot!  Most folks think bacalau is too salty, but this was just right.  So much so, that I suggested it to surrounding tables.  As they were closing for the late afternoon, the owner followed me outside, shook my hand and thanked me for coming to his restaurant.  It was me that should have been thanking him.

Here is some interesting history behind Tulhas: