Tuesday, March 9, 2010

El Almacen

Ryan and I decided to revisit El Almacen on friday night. We went long, long ago, before they had a liquor license, and before the hype got out. We had a really nice time, brought our own bottle, and enjoyed some tasty food. We've been meaning to go back ever since, and the more we heard the latest news, the more excited we got.

The atmosphere is really nice- low lighting, lots of old things, and a warm feeling. We tried to get there a little before the crazy rush, since we knew the place would get crowded. We ordered some wine- a malbec for Ryan and a torrontes for me.

We ordered appetizers and entrees, and were really surprised- and unhappy- when they arrived at the same time. We ordered the chipotle fish tacos, which were disappointing. The fish was bland, and they were soggy. Also, the smoky chipotle flavors just didn't come through.

Ryan ordered a steak, and I had vegetarian enchiladas. The enchiladas were for sure the star of the evening. On the menu, they have chicken, so they made them for me special. They used rice and beans for the filling, which was a stroke of genius. In the past all the veggie enchiladas I've had were filled with vegetables, but the rice and beans really carried all the flavors well. The verde sauce was green and tangy, with red onions and cotija cheese. Everything really came together perfectly.

On the other hand, Ryan's steak was a total fiasco! He ordered it medium rare and it came out purple and raw in the center. So, we sent it back to be recooked. After that, it was edible, but Ryan reports that the flavor was still disappointing. Some uninspired green mashed potatoes were served on the side.

We ordered a second glass of wine with our meals, but skipped dessert. The restaurant was filling up, but we couldn't believe the bum rush we got. Twice a waiter came by to ask if Ryan was done while there was still food on his plate. And I refused to chug the overpriced glass of wine I ordered- so we got hairy eyeballs from the hostess, too.

The tab got pricey with the wine, and we left feeling quite disappointed. The rushed service, the bland appetizer, the undercooked steak- it definitely was a bummer. I might be willing to go back and try the brunch, but I'm not sure. And I'm not raving. Though I did like the enchiladas....

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