Sunday, September 27, 2015

El Naranjo Pátzcuaro

El Naranjo Pátzcuaro. In your dreams.
El Naranjo, a new restaurant in a beautifully restored casona on the Plaza Vasco de Quiroga is a restaurant we really want to like. It's been open about a month now, and reports from friends and acquaintances had been encouraging. I almost never dine at a new restaurant until at least a month has passed, hopefully giving both kitchen and waitstaff a chance to polish their performance. But I may not have waited long enough.

The food is unlike any other offered in a Pátzcuaro restaurant, predominantly Italian. The only negatives in friends' description were "plastic chairs" and " some service issues". (Personally, I consider the latter more relevant than the composition of the chairs.)

El Naranjo Patio Furniture
This past Friday, the four of us enjoyed the setting, each others' company and many of the dishes. But I was left with a sense of frustration and incompleteness as the food often did not match the menu's or waiter's description.

Some dishes were quite good. The Portobello Mushrooms were pretty good. (Just as our English speaking waiter described them.)

Hongos portobellos
Larry's Carpaccio de Res (see below) was attractively presented and both he and Geni liked it very much. But instead of shavings of the traditional Parmesan, they had laminas of mozzarella (according to our waiter.) Do details like this matter?

Geni and Susie both enjoyed their Ensaladas Azul. The greens were varied and fresh, the blue cheese was generously portioned, and the balsamic dressing was sparingly applied. All good.

Ensalada Azul

Larry ordered a very attractive Carpaccio de Res, which was a hit, in spite of the substitution of mozzarella for Parmesan on top.

Carpaccio de Res
I had wanted a Caesar Salad, but our eager, friendly but poorly informed waiter told me that it would be too much food, since a salad came with the lamb. Larry and I planned to share the lamb, the special of the day. But it was an expensive failure.

We were not told about this special of the day until I asked our waiter, who inquired in the kitchen, then emerged, smiling, to tell us it was ready. We were excited with anticipation. But this dish was a major let down for me.

The anticipated salad never came with our "lamb". This lapse didn't occur to me until we were done eating.

 Of the meat, there were some scraggly pieces of bone, fat and skin. The jus was attractive, but the bread was so dreadful looking that I didn't want to use it to sop up. (The little roasted potatoes were pretty good.) 

Cordero Asado
Geni's Saltimbocca was at first glance unprepossessing, but she wrote that it was delicious. I would have wanted the absent Marsala sauce, as described on the menu.

Doña Cuevas chose Cannelloni Ripieno di Spinaci e Ricotta. It was creamy and bounteous. Note that this dish was not made from pasta tubes, but classically, with crepes. A plus for the kitchen and chef.

Desserts: the Lavender infused Creme Brûlée was very good, and the Tiramisu was very enjoyable and not as excessively rich as some versions. I wished that there were more of it. The fact that it was served in a mason jar may seem incongruous to the overall ambience (after all, this is not Jo Jo's Catfish Wharf), but having noted that, I ate it all. The tiramisú, not the jar.

Creme Brûlée a Lavanda

My espresso was forgettable, but our friends approved of their cafés con leche

When I returned from washing my hands. I saw a couple of pizzas at another table. They were very unappealing to me, particularly the crusts. But perhaps it's unfair to criticize something I didn't eat. (But I will).

Like the bread. Slices of pale, gray dry bread, accompanied by three stingy balls of butter. I couldn't help but compare this wretched looking bread with the wonderful, warm, crusty loaves, and dishes of seasoned butter in olive oil, as served at Macelleria Roma, in Mexico City.

Good, simple bread. But at Macelleria Roma, D.F.
Conclusion: we still have hopes from El Naranjo, and are willing to give it another go. But their overall performance would have to improve if we were to go there more than that.

Food: ***
Service: ***

Ambience: lovely patio in a restored casona.
(Music: I'd heard complaints of too loud live music, but we were blessed and caressed with first rate recorded tracks of Edith Piaf, Buika and other artists.)

Rest Rooms: Sparklingly clean, with attractive tile work.

Cost: Unfortunately I can't tell you the exact cost because I never saw the check total nor got a decent photo. Sra. Cuevas recalls that our check was $1,172 pesos, plus tip. We also had  a carafe of limonada, two glasses of red wine and a michelada included in that. Here's a partial view of the check, which gives some prices.

Location: Plaza Vasco de Quiroga at Calle Dr. Coss, Pátzcuaro.

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