Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sea Hunt: Marisquería La Perla de La Roma

Marine life mural sculpture
We had begun our trip in Colonia Roma with a comida at the casually elegant (read "pricey") seafood restaurant, Salón Progreso. When we returned to el D.F., we craved another seafood meal. Our criteria were: within walking distance of our hotel and neither "hip", trendy or expensive.

A look at the usual Mexico City restaurant review websites wasn't fruitful. (Too far, too trendy, too expensive.) I then turned to Google Maps. I'd already given it our location as Hotel Embassy, Calle de Puebla 115, Colonia Roma Norte, México, D.F.

Google quickly came up with a result within easy reach:

Marisquería la Perla de la Roma
Avenida Cuauhtémoc 35, Cuauhtemoc, Roma Norte, 06700 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico ‎

Not only close to the Hotel Embassy, (which is really at # Puebla 115. I don't know why Google Maps thinks it's at # 111.) it's just around the corner where Calle de Puebla meets Avenida Cuauhtémoc.

View Larger Map

I'd glimpsed this restaurant earlier as we rode a taxi to the hotel. Then I rechecked the restaurant review web sites, including Yelp! The reviews were generally favorable to enthusiastic, but several mentioned "waiting in line to get in". I consider that a good sign.

La Fila
When we arrived, there was indeed a waiting line. A security guard served as both doorman and host. We waited about 15 minutes before he led us through two huge dining rooms to a table in the cozy, dining room annex, located over the loading zone ramp. (By now you should be beginning to grasp that La Marisquería La Perla de La Roma's style is the polar opposite of that of Salón Progreso's.)

One half of La Marisquería La Perla de La Roma main dining room
The other half of the first dining room.

There is a second dining room similar in size to the first.

Cozy, more intimate annex dining room
Perhaps 10 minutes passed before a waitress arrived to give us a do it yourself order form. The wait time was understandable considering that all dining rooms were nearly full to maximum capacity. Surprisingly, while the noise level was LOUD, we could, with care, still communicate vocally across our table.

Once we had our do it yourself order form filled out, our waitress returned and read the order back to us.

Then things moved quickly. Our meal arrived in just under 10 minutes.

Sra. Cuevas started with a Coctel de Camarones, sin catsup. It was very nice, although not equal to the one she'd had at Marisquería  La Red in Oaxaca.

Coctel de Camarones, sin catsup
I had a Coctel Ceviche de Pescado, (other marine life ceviches are offered), a simple but good rendition. It was purely good sized chunks of firm fleshed fish in its marinade liquid. I think I added some salsa picante and cilantro from a dish on the table. We both noted that each coctel had a few drops of olive oil, a kind of old fashioned, special touch infrequently encountered nowadays.

It wasn't long before our platos fuertes arrived: Doña Cuevas got Pulpos al Mojo de Ajo which was good, but again, not as good as that she had at La Red. But keep in mind that La Red is over 6 1/2 hours away by bus.

Pulpos al Mojo de Ajo
Following enthusiastic recommendations on various restaurant review sites  (YELP!) I had "Empapelado", a melange of seafood baked (?) in a sizable aluminum foil pouch. It wasn't bad, but it was under seasoned, and not very imaginatively at that, and it very quickly became boring.

In fact, we found ourselves so full from our cocteles that neither of us could eat but half of our platos fuertes.

Sra. Cuevas drank agua mineral and I had a do it yourself michelada. That is, a glass with a half inch of lime juice in it, a bottle of beer and a selection of bottled salsas on the table.

Although the main courses we had ranged from mediocre to o.k., we saw some probable veteran customers getting some attractive dishes. The Sopa de Mariscos, for example looked spectacular, with a crab claw boldly emerging from a large bowl. A plate of Camarones Empanizados looked perfectly cooked. Numerous customers received well browned, crunchy crusted quesadillas o empanadas.

Our neighboring table received a dozen pristine and very tempting ostiones en su concha . (Tempting, but not tempting enough for me to have, remembering the dire illness I'd contracted from eating raw oysters in Tuxpan Veracruz in 1980.) The price is a remarkably low $70!! A half dozen oysters are also offered.


Food: *** What we had was under seasoned, but obviously we had but a small sampling of the menu offerings. Portions tended to be very large. Seafood without frills.

Service: **** Efficient!

Price: $$+ Nuestra cuenta aquí.

Ambience: Huge, noisy, popular,  unpretentious, crowded, blimp hangar sized dining halls. But fun!! Some review sites describe it as nearly devoid of decor, but that's not true. Look:

Marine life sculpture
Restrooms: very nice, but no paper towels at the time of our visit. (Not unusual in México.)

Glib, snapshot summation: Better than The Red Lobster, not as good as Fonda La Veracruzana. This is la marisquería para el pueblo.

Yes, we would happily return.

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