Thursday, June 21, 2012

Misíon Imposible

A few years back, the R.O.M.E.O. men's breakfast group met at the restaurant of the then Hotel San Felipe in Pátzcuaro. It would be kind to say that the spacious parking and the seating arrangement were the highlights of that breakfast.

Patio and parking
Since then, the Hotel San Felipe changed ownership to the extensive Hotel Misíon chain. It was renamed the Hotel Misíon Pátzcuaro. Last week, our friends Mark and Nancy dined with a group of friends at the restaurant, still named Restaurante San Felipe, and were so pleased that they suggested we join them there for a comida.

At 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, we six were the only diners in the warmly appointed dining room. We were attended quite competently by two white jacketed waiters. The menu is not lengthy, but is more than adequate. They brought us some complimentary totopos y frijoles.

The menu is a bit confusing in that there are listings for both botanas and for antojitos. Some of the same items appear under different categories but with varying prices. In the case of the intriguing Chile Pasilla item, our waiter explained that the one listed in botanas was a sort of build your own taco appetizer, while the antojito version is a type of chile relleno. We ordered the botana version and an order of guacamole to share.

The guacamole was fine, and the chile pasilla botana was novel and nifty. It comes as sort of a kit, comprised of a fried, opened dried chile, strips of queso fresco, crema, chopped cilantro, cebolla y chile perón. We were supplied with baskets of warm, thickish handmade tortillas with which to assemble our tacos. The dish was fun to eat, but the sum of its flavor was o.k., but not equal to the appeal of the DIY parts.

Chile Pasilla botana
On the other hand, the two salsas de la casa, roja y verde, were stellar. The tomatoes and milder chiles of the red had been carefully roasted, while the green was just the right heat, tartness, but above all, chopped in substantial chunks rather than the anemic, watery purees so often served elsewhere.


The weather was cool and rainy, so soup was a logical choice for at least three of us. Two chose Crema Tangaxhuan, a creamy corn chowder laced with bacon and topped by small crackers or croutons.

Crema Tangaxhuan
I chose Sopa Tarasca, a Michoacán specialty, a soup often abused and disrespected. (There are at least two schools of Sopa Tarasca; with bean puree and without.) The version at San Felipe could hold its own in the upper ranks of contenders. It was vivid with tomato-chile broth, thick with tortilla strips, laced with crema y queso and strips of chile pasilla, but without beans. It was substantial and enjoyable.

Sopa Tarasca

With the platos fuertes, I think the quality declined. Mark had a Filete de Res con Champiñones a la Mostaza, of which only he can give an opinion. He invited me to taste the sauce, but I did not think that the yellow mustard in a cream sauce was a felicitous combination.

Filete de res con champiñones a la mostaza
Ron had a simple Filete de Res a la Parrilla. I didn't get his opinion on this yet.

Both Georgia and I both had Chuletas Adobadas. Mine, at least was overcooked; a bit thin and dry, but redeemed somewhat by the pretty good adobo. 

Chuletas Adobadas
Note that the chuletas and Ron's platter came with frijoles but Mark's did not. There were no vegetable sides, as far as we could tell, even though fresh vegetables were present in the salads.

Nancy and Sra. Cuevas both had Ensaladas Mixtas, which combined fresh and cooked vegetables and some ham and cheese. The salads were attractive, and cruets of vinegar and oil were welcome to mix your dressing to taste.

Ensalada Mixta: goodbye, cruet whirl

Ron and I both ordered flan, which was poorly made. I have never had dense, chewy flan before. The caramel tasted like a syrup made from piloncillo. 

This dessert did not pass with flan colors
Nancy and Sra. Cuevas had Crepas a la Naranja, attractive and the orange sauce was good. Crepes would never be among my first dessert choices, but of course, tastes differ.

Crepas a la Naranja
 And now, the envelope, please!

Food: ***1/2
Service: *****
Ambience: ****
Price: $$+ (per person, complete meal. See menu pictures for details)
Restrooms: Clean and attractive.
Parking: spacious and free.

Location: Hotel Misión Pátzcuaro
Av. Lázaro Cárdenas No. 321
C.P. 61600, Centro
Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, México

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Felipe Zapata said...

That looks like a far-better-than-average sopa Tarasca.

DonCuevas said...

Yes, the Sopa Tarasca was one of the best parts of the meal.
Saludos,Don Cuevas 

Tancho said...

"One came with frijoles the other didn't, " This is not a small attention to detail but simply a chef or kitchen staff that doesn't give a darn about a dining experience that some people expect when dining out. It appears that this place just wants to serve you food and the bill.....
Sadly there are too few eateries that either don't over cook pork chops, chicken breasts and the such, or that they can't send out the same dish looking the same ingredients.
Thanks for the review, we'll give it a try, for the salsas , that looked delicious.

Mark Emmer said...

I think that's a bit unfair about the attention to detail.  I believe my filete de res con champiñones a la mostaza did not come with frijoles out of carelessness, but because that's how they choose to serve it.  It was served the same way (sin frijoles) when my wife had it four days earlier. It already had plenty of liquid from the mustard sauce, and frijoles would not be a good fit IMHO. The same was true for the filete de res a la crema de rajas from our first visit, and which I would order again.It may not measure up to some of the better dining choices in Morelia, but given the limited opportunities in Pátzcuaro, my wife and I will definitely be back . Especially if they have the big fireplace going in the dining room, it would be an easy and comfortable choice in the winter.
I'll be interested in your comments when you try them.

DonCuevas said...

I should state the the presentation or plating of the chile pasilla botana and of the soups was very attractive.

Saludos,Don Cuevas 

DonCuevas said...

Thanks for your comment, Mark.
Apart from the frijoles question, did you notice that rice or potatoes were notably absent? Not that I have to have them, but just an observation.Saludos, Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

Mark, thanks for the update, we always try and give these places at lease two or three shots before grinding them into the dust, especially since Patzcuaro is not a Mecca of fine dining...
The photos Sr.Cuevas took certainly look promising.
And besides we have to take into account that they do have a parking lot, which is a positive......

Andean said...

Nothing beats freshly made, salsa picante. I love it in soups, on rice, bread...yum.
Those look amazing!