We returned yesterday to the pleasant town of Ziracuarétiro, in the warm, lush semi-tropical zone near Uruapan.
About a month ago, we had a pleasant dinner at La Mesa de Blanca, which is in the town itself. Ever seeking something new and different, we decide on Hacienda Los Arcos.
From its website, we already knew that it was a much larger and elaborate restaurant than La Mesa de Blanca. The website displayed a decor dripping with chuchería (tchotchkes). But it was the buffet service which gave me serious doubts as to the culinary worthiness of the restaurant. However, based on Felipe Zapata's glowing recommendation, we four, Georgia, Susie, Ron and I decided to give it a try.
(This again illustrates how much people's preferences vary.)
When we got to Ziracuarétiro, we made a brief recon of the town center. There's a nice little plaza and the attractive bell tower of the modern church form a centerpiece. Close by, on a shady side street, is the Balneario Ziracua, which looks a bit worn, although we didn't enter it.
To one side are the park-like grounds of El Gorjeo de Las Aves en Las Mañanas de Abril, a breakfast only restaurant owned by the same people of La Mesa de Blanca.
Hacienda Los Arcos is actually at Los Fresnos, about 5 kilometers south of Ziracua. It's hard to miss, both for its prominent signs and the extensive group of buildings atop a hill.
The parking is ample and paved, and a hostess greets visitors at the parking lot. Of the various dining areas, La Terraza looked most attractive, and we took a corner table with a view. The decor is Hacienda meets Annie Oakley and Wagon Train. A small fountain was noteworthy.
|El Fuente de Las Planchas. An ironic icon.
We were given the option of the buffet or the a la carte menu. Although I was already decided against the buffet, I gave it a look once over. There were numerous steam table pans with covers, but after a quick look at the chiles rellenos, I really was uninterested in seeing more.
The best looking section was the plancha where carne sirloin asada could be cooked to order, and attractive brochetas de camarones, which unfortunately, appeared precooked. Sra. Doña Cuevas decided to have the buffet, which cost $170 MXN. But she ate mostly salads and fruits, interspersed with some camarones en salsa de mango. I'll get to that later.
Our waiter prepared a very good salsa de molcajete tableside. We tasted and had it made to our liking. It consisted of roasted tomatoes, salt and a choice of chile habanero or serrano or both. No cilantro, but it was very good.
The remaining three of us decide to share two appetizers. the first were 3, plump "camaronillas" or shrimp and cheese quesadillas. That was a good choice, especially spiked with the salsa de molcajete.
The next appetizer was an excellent Champiñones al Ajillo (fun to say as well as tasty to eat.) This was a 4 **** dish, one of the best, made with fresh mushrooms, possibly tomato; onion, garlic and chiles.
I ordered a Crema de Aguacate, served hot, which 3 of us shared. It was pleasant but too subtle, and we felt it could have been enhanced with some sort of garnish, or a variation in texture.
After this good start, the meal declined to a mediocre level.
For main courses, we ordered as follows: Georgia, Camarones Al Mojo de Ajo; Ron, an Arrachera, accompanied by a crema y tocino topped baked potato, elote (which he skipped) and cebollitas; I had Camarones Al Tamarindo.
Here's the score: Camarones Al Mojo; small to medium tails on shrimp in a thickened garlic sauce, resembling a poorly made Cantonese dish. The bits of garlic were evenly minced and shaped, looking as though they came out of a jar of prepared garlic. Not awful, but not up to the standard to which we are accustomed.
Arrachera: Ron said it was ordinary and probably not marinaded.
Camarones Al Tamarindo; o.k. but unbalanced sauce. Kind of a one-dimensional tamarind tartness. The accompanying mound of rice was tepid and just boring.
Late edition: April 25, 2010, 5:46 PM
We passed on dessert, as we were quite full, and the desserts we'd seen displayed on a table of the buffet did not appeal to us. They looked store-bought.
Ron wanted an espresso, or a café con leche, but there is no espresso machine, and the only coffee available was café de olla or what I think is a "cappucino" made from a mix.
The four of us did drink, at various times, a cerveza Pacífico; a tequila and Coke, a Dubonnet on the rocks; a copa de vino tinto Argentino, Las Moras; a Vampiro (good, but I've had better elsewhere.); and a pitcher of overly sweet Limonada.
The cuenta for all that was $1,131 MXN, to which we added a good tip, because the service was above average.
In conclusion, after only one visit, it's a pleasant restaurant, but you'd do better just having appetizers and drinks.
Price: $$-$$$ (Each $= 100 pesos Mexicanos)
Ambience: ornate western
Restrooms: small but very clean
Here are all the photos, in slideshow form.
(added menu photos April 26, 2010)