Thursday, December 5, 2013

Los Chilaquiles - Cedar Park

This is, as the name suggests, a Mexican restaurant, and is one we return to fairly regularly.  We have rarely been disappointed in the service, and while a lot of the menu is not to my taste, there are many items I do really enjoy.  I just need to remember to stick to what I know and like.

On our most recent visit I forgot to do that and my love of mushrooms and spinach, particularly together, overcame my reservations about enchiladas, which I know I don't like, for much the same reason I do not like pizza, I know - unAmerican, I have been told that many times.

It is the mixture of 'breadieness' and cheese that makes it all too stodgy for my taste

We were served chips and salsa, and we have been there often enough to know to ask for their 'green salsa'. This is only served on request and is so much better than the tomato based salsa which they serve warm.

We started with the Queso Albanil which I had enjoyed before, but this time I had one taste and that was too much.  This dish is layered ground beef at the bottom, covered in melted cheese with pico and guacamole on top.

I think it was because Mildred, before I could stop her (I was too busy taking photographs) mixed it all together, I do prefer to be able to taste each of the layers separately and there was no way to avoid the strong, salty flavor of the beef which overpowered the rest of the flavors once it was mixed.

I recommend you try this Queso, but taste it before mixing it, in fact, if you are sharing with others, put some on your side plate and then mix it if that is the way you like it.

The main course was served promptly and efficiently.  We were all having enchiladas which may have helped there, my husband and his mother had beef and I had the spinach and mushroom, unfortunately the spinach and mushroom was so heavily dowsed in lime juice, that was all I could taste.

Note to self, order the Filete al Vapor next time.  It is worth the 20 minute wait, though I do feel bad making my companions wait that long.

Come to think of it, I didn't see it on the menu this time!  Oh dear.  Still, they do some good salads also. And this time they did have Cabernet, and it was served at room temperature, so all was not lost.

Don't let my bad choice and fussy tastebuds stop you from paying a visit to Los Chilaquiles, both Mildred and Larry thoroughly enjoyed their food. Although the decor is somewhat gaudy, it has a pleasant atmosphere, good service, good food and good prices.

By the way, you might have noticed, we do not eat desserts, hence no commentary on those.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Luigi's - Leander

Luigi's is the closest restaurant to our home, I really wish that it were better. Having said that, Mildred loves their food and Larry enjoys it, though he did say that Marco's pizza was better. I have always been a little disappointed.

Luigis is located a mile from our home, on Crystal Falls in the strip mall just east of Bagdad. They do a very busy take out business and they also do delivery within a 5 mile radius. If the food were better it would make a very nice alternative to our regular Chinese delivery.

The interior is slightly strange, there is lots of space and while the floor space is not cluttered with too many tables, and the booths are spacious, the walls are very cluttered and the drapes are fussy dust collectors. I can't fault their service though, as you can see from the photo below, it was not very busy when we got there, but it did fill up quite quickly and we had to wait longer than we should have to get the check.

The menu is very big and everything sounds delicious, but when it arrives it just doesn't look as good as it sounds, and, for the most part, doesn't smell fresh. That is not to say that it smells bad, but it doesn't have that, 'fresh made with fresh ingredients' aroma.

On this occasion Mildred ordered her regular, Veal Parm Hero

 Larry had a Personal Pizza
I chose the Luigi's Tilapia

Grilled Tilapia fillet and shrimp sauteed in a creamy broccoli and mushroom sauce with angel hair pasta - sounds so delicious, but when it arrived, apart from being a ridiculously large portion, it didn't smell great. That is the smell of fish was the overpowering aroma, and a fresh tilapia shouldn't smell that strong, particularly drowned in a thick sauce. Sadly it didn't taste much better than it looked, the mushrooms were leathery and the fish didn't taste any fresher than the smell promised and finally the pasta was very over cooked. The shrimp were good, but I think serving shrimp with tails on, buried in a thick al fredo sauce is not advisable and does make them very difficult to eat.

Mildred was able to finish her meal and enjoyed it as much as every time she tried it before.

Larry, as I said, thought the pizza was OK, but not as good as Marco's

I really couldn't eat much of my dish, which was one of the more expensive items on the menu. If you decide to give Luigi's a try, I recommend you stay away from the fish, and go for the less expensive items. Mildred's Veal was $8.95, the Personal Pizza was $7.95 plus $1 per topping, while my tilapia was $13.95.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Whatever happened to Chili's?

Tomorrow is Friday. Used to be, 'round about now I would be considering Chili's menu and deciding what I would have on our regular Friday evening dinner date there. Almost every Friday evening, for the past 11 years we, my husband and I, have eaten in Chili's. Occasionally we would go during the week, particularly if we had guests. Not only was it only a mile from home, but also we were known by all the staff. And despite the fact that our food preferences are very different, we always managed to find something on the menu we were both happy with – and the cost never broke the bank.

Our seating preference was a booth in the bar, and as soon as the regular bar tender saw us come in she prepared our drinks which arrived at the table almost as soon as we did. We have seen many excellent wait staff come and go, but we were always lucky enough to be waited on by someone who was not only an excellent server but also had a terrific memory. We are both kind of fussy, ok, very fussy. We almost never order a meal without customizing it, sometimes just a little, more frequently a whole lot. After the first few times a new wait person served us, they remembered all of our customization, even when we forgot ourselves.

When my husband’s mother came to live with us, her customization were also remembered.
In 11 years I think we had only one meal that was unsatisfactory, undercooked shrimp. This was taken care of with speed and efficiency without any fuss. Not any more, sadly after about 3 months of unbelievably slow service, not the fault of the servers who were very attentive, it was clearly a kitchen problem because when we finally got our meal, almost every Friday there was a problem, sometimes multiple problems ranging from over cooked, under cooked, cold food, and more often than not, items on the plate of varying temperatures from cold vegetables, tepid meat and very hot fries. Worst of all, no sign of a Manager. For the previous 11 years I don’t think there was a day we ate there that we were not spoken to at some stage during the meal by a Manager.

So now, every Friday we try out a new restaurant. We are fortunate that we have an almost endless supply to choose from within a 10 mile radius, but so far we have been all too frequently disappointed. Our quest is somewhat more difficult as we now have three people with very different tastes to cater for. Every time a new restaurant opens up, we test it out, many have been first class and we rejoice in the fact we have found a new favorite, only to find it deteriorates rapidly after the first month of opening. Many of these disappear within 6 months, though usually the ones that go out of business are those that priced themselves too high in the first place. We are prepared to pay for good food and good service, but when the food is not good and the Management refuse to listen to customers opinions, we feel there is no point in returning.

We do, from time to time, return to see if there has been improvement in those that continue to remain open, but so far we have not found any that recover their early promise.  If I find a good one, I will definitely let you know about it.