Monday, July 20, 2009

A Serious Sunday Seafood Feast

For years, the People's Guide To Mexico was my Mexico "bible". One of the memorable sections of the book described serious Sunday seafood feasts, with entire extended families going out for a leisurely and extended comida, often entertained by musicians. Well, the good news is that it's still a tradition alive today. The bad news is that the prices have risen considerably since the earlier editions of that book were written. Yet it's still possible to eat well on mariscos and not break the bank.

Five of us got together for such a Serious Sunday Seafood comida at Mariscos La Güera Campestre, on the Pátzcuaro-Morelia highway, across from OXXO and next to Viveros Pátzcuaro, at Km. 44.6

We made a point of arriving later than our usual time, in order to enjoy the bustle and the tables filling with other customers. The covered beer garden is now open, but as no customers were in it, and as I like to observe the open kitchen, we sat inside in the main building. Two of our group were already waiting for us.

Inside, there was live entertainment of a very good karaoke singer and his ocasional guitarist partner. (Just a little too much volume to where conversations were difficult.)

Drinks were ordered, among them several of the zesty Micheladas Preparadas con Clamato, which now came with one shrimp perched on the rim and 3 in the copa.
It's like a mini shrimp cocktail. How the restaurant can afford to do these drinks with shrimp at $24 MXN each, I have no idea, but we are not complaining!

Some of us started out with tostadas, for which Mariscos La Güera Campestre (and the matriz restaurant) is noted. I had one of the smoky, densely textured smoked marlín, and a light and refreshing one of tiritas de filete de pescado. The latter was tasty, but the fish strips were very soft, more than nomal, as if they'd soaked in the lime juice too long.

Others in our group had tostadas de Ceviche de Calamar, a saucy and spicier concoction. Muy recomendable. Other options were cocteles de camarones and/or pulpos, in 3 sizes, made to your taste, with or without cilantro, regular or with poca catsup, cucumber on request.

I decided to be dutiful and brave and give the Camarones y Pulpos a la Diabla a third try. I'd had the camarones only version at Mariscos La Güera matriz on two past occasions, and hadn't been pleased. The starch or flour-thickened red sauce had problems both times. This time it was quite successful. It's a tomato based, thickened sauce with a good kick, possibly of chipotle, although I can't be sure. There was a minor hitch when the platter arrived, as the food was lukewarm, but when I notified our waiter, he took it back to the kitchen and they quickly reheated it. It was more than just satisfactory; it was picante and delicious.

Mariscos La Güera is notable in that if ever arise any problems with your meal, a quiet word with your server or the manager will bring a quick and satisfactory solution.

Three of our group ordered whole fish; two of which were the mighty Mojarra al Mojo de Ajo, and one Trucha a la Veracruzana. The last is prepared in a style very unlike any pescado a la Veracruzana elsewhere. It's somewhat minimalist, as if the classic Veracruzana treatment had been deconstructed to a few strips of tomato, a chile, a few slices of green olive. Although it wasn't what he'd expected, our friend liked it.

We could argue that the La Güera style of pescado a la Veracruzana allows the taste of the fish to shine, rather than the dominant, complex and spicy tomato-onion-chile-garlic-bay leaf-capers and olives sauce. We could, but won't. I prefer it the classic way, although I think that it's too strong for delicate trout.

Another dining companion had Camarones Empani-Cocos, or shrimp breaded in unsweetened, shredded coconut. It's a dish that's easy to like, and he did.

The little yácata of rice that accompanies all the platters was unusally good and well prepared. All, of course had the usual backdrop of shredded carrots, tomato, cucumber and orange slices, and a little fan of avocado.

Quibbles, apart from the tepid Camarones y Pulpos a la Diabla: the table tostadas for munching were stale, and the lime chunks on the plates were a little past their prime.

We actually requested and received separate checks, which process took a little while, but what's the hurry? (I hated to leave, even though I was very full.)

We were given a friendly send off, and as we stepped out to the cars, raindrops were felt.

(Slide show is a compendium of over three years of photos, from both locations.)


Rachel Laudan said...

No better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

David Haun said...

Yes, what a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Loved the review and photos. Thanks,

Felipe Zapata said...

Nothing takes a restaurant off my visit list quicker than live music. In Mexico, even more so because they know no volume limit. Sad.

If I want live music, I go to a concert. Restaurants are for eating.

And that´s what I think about that.

Don Cuevas said...

Felipe, I would totally agree with you except: I wouldn't give up our favorite Pátzcuaro restaurant because of a little music. (They were actually quite good.)

If we wish to avoid the live music, we'll seat ourselves in the jardín or at the outside annex. Or not go on Sunday at the hour we did.

I sent an invitation to the owners to see the Picasa Web photos, mentioning the loudness of the music and a few other things.)

We have an expat acquintance who refuses to EVER again eat at Mariscos La Güera matriz because they once refused to serve him and his wife at 5:50 p.m. when their posted hours were closing at 6:00.

His principles.
His loss.
Your choice.

Don Cuevas