Monday, March 11, 2013

Table With A View — Rancho La Mesa

The View from Rancho La Mesa (2006)
It's a principle of mine, cynical though it may be, that at restaurants with beautiful views, the food often takes a back seat to the view.  Sometimes, however, you have to make exceptions.

"Those, Sir, are my principles. And if you don't like them, well, I have others." — variously attributed to Groucho Marx and Benjamin Disraeli.
Yesterday, our friends, Bernard and Eileen suggested that we go to Rancho La Mesa. Doña Cuevas and I had been there only once before, soon after we moved to the Pátzcuaro area. At that time, we arrived late, and all the restaurant could offer were cerveza, guacamole and totopos. And a great view.

This time, we anticipated our comida with pleasure and an open mind. We even welcomed the smooth, guitar playing singer who roved the open air dining room, who unobtrusively entertained us at our request. Later, as we were finishing our dinner, mariachis arrived, but we decided to forego the pleasure of their talent.

Dining room terrace
It was pleasant to join our friends in conversation, enjoying the view, the songs, and the Botana Mixta.

And now, to the food:
The table was set with a small plate of a dense avocado paste (not exactly guacamole, but close.), small wedges of queso fresco and a basket of totopos. Pretty good.

I ordered a Paloma, grapefruit soda, lime juice and Tequila in a tall, salt rimmed glass. Refreshing, but a bit light on the Tequila. Others had agua mineral.

Bernard suggested that we split a Botana Mixta, $120 pesos, a medium large platter holding Champiñones al Ajillo, Chinchulines (crispy fried pig's intestines), and Queso Frito. The mushrooms were good, the queso was pleasant, and the crispy fried Chinchulines savory if somewhat on the hard side. There were also hot tortillas to accompany this.

Botana Mixta
We looked over the menu, which features ostrich raised on the premises, but that did not appeal to me. There were numerous variations of filete de res, to the point where the listings seemed redundant. There was also one listing for pescadotrucha salmonada, which seemed an unwise choice, and some Pollo Cordon Bleu and the like.

In the end, we all ordered some form of beef steak. Doña Cuevas had an elaborate Carne Asada a la Tampiqueña; Bernard, a filete smothered in a mushroom gravy, Eileen, a simpler Filete al Ajillo; and I; a Filete a la Pimienta, which looked simple on the menu, but arrived smothered in mushrooms and onions, and a jus, not a thickened gravy. I didn't object. All were accompanied by a fairly rice, which could have been cooked a bit longer, or kept moister. Our waiter kept us supplied with hot tortillas, of which I ate only three. I would have preferred crusty bread, but I didn't expect I'd get it.

Carne Asada a la Tampiqueña
My filete, and the others, was coarse grained, devoid of any char, cooked to medium as requested, and passably o.k. We have been spoiled by the beef at Parrilla y Canilla in Morelia. The portions were very generous, and my wife and I took home half of what we'd been served.

Our waiter did not suggest dessert or coffee, which should have alerted us, but when asked, he told us that there was flan and Café Americano or de Olla. It turned out there was no café de olla, and Eileen ordered a flan. It looked a disaster when it came. She said that it wasn't flan like, but it was o.k. It resembled a caramelized bread pudding, but I suspect that it was just overcooked flan.

All in all, it was a pleasant dinner with friends, and the view of Pátzcuaro and the Lake was inspiring, even if the food was not.


Food: **1/2 Generous portions, passable quality food.

Service: ***1/2

Ambience: Delightful, semi out doors, great view.

Price: $$ A relative bargain, but the price/quality ratio is not good.
Restrooms: Excellent, spacious, well maintained.

Location: Carretera Patzcuaro-Santa Clara Km 3, Los Cedros, 61600 Patzcuaro, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico
Partially unpaved road access, can be dusty. Plenty of easy parking.
Tel: +52 434 345 0145

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