Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two of Pátzcuaro's New Restaurants

We have now eaten twice at El Rincón del Buen Sazón, located on the Glorieta Tangaxuan, across from Bodega Aurerrá. Here is my review of the first visit, about a month ago. Sorry; I have no photos.

In a recent email, Pablo Kundzin sent me a tip about a new restaurant, El Rincón del Buen Sazón, at the glorieta in Pátzcuaro, across from Bodega Aurrerá. He wrote that the food was good, the portions generous and the prices reasonable. It's in the same building formerly occupied by a not-so-great seafood house, later by the Bodega construction office. The carved wooden door says "Los Fresnos", although I don't recall a restaurant of that name. There's parking to the side, and paved street parking around the corner on Calle Nueces. We actually parked at La Bodega, but risked our limbs and lives crossng Avenida de Las Américas/Lázaro Cárdenas.

After procrastinating a a couple of weeks, three of us dined there yesterday. I can confirm Pablo's opinions by saying that this restaurant is a very good addition to Pátzcuaro's restaurants, and all of us would recommend it for meat lovers. The interior is attractive and colorful, but not fancy. The seats are of molded plastic. The tables have colorful tablecloths. All was neat and well arranged.

At one-thirty in the afternoon, we were the only customers and one waiter. He greeted us and we chose a table. Soon after bringing us the two-sided, plastic laminated menus, he brought us a four compartment pottery server of three distinctive salsas and crisp totopos. A small plate also held delicious frijoles refritos, warm and sprinkled with queso fresco.
We ordered drinks, one Coca, a Cerveza Bohemia, and for me, a "Fantasma" o "Cubana", which turned out to be a particularly tasty variant of Michelada, seasoned with Jugo Maggi and more.

The menu has an ample selection of meat dishes and steak cuts to please most any taste.
Us two hombres ordered Ribeye steaks and my wife ordered Alambre de Arrachera. All were priced at $80 MXN or less!

The Entradas (appetizers/starters) menu included Queso Fundido, Choriqueso and Champiqueso.
We also asked for an entrada of "Champiqueso", but it did not come until the main courses arrived. If there was a weak spot in the dinner, it was the champiqueso. It was a bowl of canned sliced mushrooms, covered in a difficult to penetrate cap of melted white cheese. I would have preferred having the mushrooms enveloped in hotter, melted cheese. But it wasn't bad; just not that good. With all the other food, the Champiqueso was superfluous.

I'd been wondering what sides, if any, the dinners would include, and I was very pleasantly surprised when they arrived with attractive accompaniments.

The steaks were not thick, like in a U.S. steakhouse*; yet nowhere as thin as the typical carne asada we've had elsewhere in Mexico. They looked great, anointed with a jugo or jus. They tasted great, too. On the same plate was a small piece of very tasty grilled chorizo, a couple of cebolletas asadas, a grilled chile Húngaro (a long, pale green and deceptively innocuous looking pepper.), and some halves of papas chicas, bearing silly little squiggles of mayonesa. On the side was a small dressed salad of cucumber, tomato and lettuce. There was a basket of warm tortillas, hechas a mano.

The steaks were reasonably tender. I'd eaten so much of the frijoles, that mine was too much to finish, so at the end of our meal, our waiter wrapped it para llevar.
Doña Cuevas' Alambres de Arrachera was something like a plate of rich fajitas, covered with melted cheese, and accompanied by more of the delicious frijoles.

*When la cuenta came, it was pleasantly modest. We'd had three complete dinners, 2 Cocas, 2 Cervezas Bohemia, 1 Fantasma/Michelada, and a Champiqueso; for about $300 MXN.

We hope that El Rincón del Buen Sazón thrives. It's worthy of repeated visits, if the food and service continue as good as they were yesterday.

We noted also that they serve very reasonably priced breakfasts.

We returned yesterday with two friends. Although the restaurant was busy with a private Christmas party, the service was reasonably attentive.
This time, we ordered a choriqueso with our drinks. It arrived quickly enough, and was better than the champiqueso of the previous visit, but not something I'd make a point of ordering again.

Our amiga ordered  Arrachera, which looked good and came with one small papa chica and a roasted pale green chile. My wife again had the luscious Alambres de Arrachera, basically a plate of fajita meat with peppers, onions and melted cheese over all.

Nosotros los hombres both ordered the intriguing and inexpensive "Tapaditos a la Diabla", which turned out to be a few thin but o.k. slices of beef in a creamy, slightly picante sauce. It looked meager but I, at least, got full with the numerous handmade tortillas, the frijoles, totopos (they were a bit hard) and the outstanding salsas in the 4 compartmented salsera. I'd specifically rate the Tapaditos as "not bad, but not worth ordering again."

With soft drinks and a Cubana/fantasma (highly recommended), the bill was in the neighborhood of $320 MXN. Plus tip, of course.

Tancho ratings:
Food *** out of a possible 5
Service ***
Price $ (inexpensive)

From Eclipse to Chop Sticks:
Friends of ours, of the venerable Familia Parra of Pátzcuaro, have opened a Japanese restaurant in the space formerly occupied by the Eclipse coffeehouse and music venue. Sushi is featured. This is on the corner of the north side of Plaza Grande and Calle Ahumada; entrances from either side.

Incongruously it's behind the new Subway Sandwich shop, still under development on the corner formerly occupied by the family tienda, La Fortaleza. The historic tienda has been withdrawn to the interior of the vast casona Parra.

We wish them the best of luck in this daring venture. I only learned of it yesterday and haven't eaten there.

Appendix: A venerable and respected reader of this blog has privately emailed me, urging that I write in English, using Spanish only when there's the name of a food or a person. I'm wondering what other readers think about this. Do you find the occasional Spanish phrase incomprehensible? Do they bother you? Comments welcomed on that as well as the subjects of the above post.


Michael Dickson said...

Nice rundown. I had not been aware that the restaurant was anything special. The location seems cursed. Everybody of late who opens something there bombs pretty quickly.

Maybe this one will survive. I´ll give it a visit. Parking has long been a problem there.

The Los Fresnos name was from a restaurant that occupied that location a good number of years ago. It finally gave up the ghost and moved near the train station and now goes by the name El Tarasco. It was one of my favorite joints for quite a while in both locations. But, of late, the newer one has sunk in quality. I´ve given up on it.

I´ve eaten twice at the sushi joint, and that´s all I´ll say about that.

I eagerly await Subway!

Tancho said...

Now that you have a some great reviews detrás de su cinturón you can start your next blog as a listing compilation. Toss in an index or two.

You are doing such a great service to your readers. It will be a must check out on one of our next trecks for an outside meal!

Thank You!

Don Cuevas said...

Tancho, you may have to explain to some of our other readers what "detrás de su cinturón" means.

About the index: there's a little "Search this Blog" box, somewhere near the right side of the page.

Thanks for your kind comment.

Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

Ok, cinturón is the thing that you must buckle when getting on a airplane flight, the belt, and detrás is the Spanish word for behind like in the back of, not to be confused with the Tush which came from the Yiddish word tokhes.

And you are welcome! Keep up the great work!

Don Cuevas said...

And to think, I was believing cinturón was a sort of candied citrus peel. ;-)

Don Cuevas

Anonymous said...

I urge you to sometime try out the Molcajete, their specialty, at the new Las Brisas across from Vista Del Rey health club. poco a poco it's making it.

Don Cuevas said...

Gracias, Anon;
We hope to check out that place soon.
I've thought of approaching them to host the R.O.M.E.O. breakfast group.

(By the way; you can sign a name, a nom de plume or a nickname, even though you're anonymous. If you want to. That way, we can tell you apart from the other anonomi.)

Don Cuevas

Michael Dickson said...

I second your suggestion that anons ought to at least make up a name to distinguish them from other anons.

But that´s not why I´m here. My previous comment likely left the impression that I did not like the new sushi joint on the Plaza Grande. That is not exactly correct. The place is not bad. Neither is it really good. But it is serviceable, and I hope it survives. I hope any restaurant survives here that serves something other than sopa Tarasca and the usual stuff.

There is another restaurant in Pátzcuaro where sushi is served. It used to be half a block from the Plaza Grande, but they have moved some blocks farther away from the plaza. They have better sushi, but I quit going there due to the deadpan, snotty service.

Tancho said...

Interesting how these entrepreneurs chose a location. Usually the location, location, location adage allows fledgling restaurant to at least get a slim advantage in a new venture, the Las Brisas across from Vista Del Rey health club, better have real good food in order for patrons to transverse the streets to arrive. After that trek the food has to be good to overcome the hassle of getting there. I look at it every time I drive up the hill and see a few bodies in the place. At least there is adaquate parking....

Anonymous said...

The land has been in their family for generations, which explains the location. The walk up Dr. Coss is good for the appetite. They are starting to do good business for large parties than and may expand to a larger hall. I would think they would be willing to host a Tuesday breakfast.