A car is not a toy. – 2/15/2007

Weekend dinner!

Over the weekend, Lovey and I had the opportunity to go out to dinner as Kiddo was out doing Kiddo things. Our decisions always go a little something like this:

  • Should we order in or shower and go out?
  • Pasta? Sushi? Mexican? Chinese? What?
  • How far do we want to drive?

I really should make a flowchart for us to make these decisions easier.

We decided on go out, Mexican and not far which led us to Talavera in Coral Gables. As you may know, I LOVE Mexican food (Tex Mex also although it’s not Mexican) and basically 99% of everything about Mexico. (See also, wedding there in June and lived there for a couple of years.) I even learned to love tacos off the street that I would have previously turned my nose up at. I am plotting a trip to Chicago simply so that I can visit Frontera and XOCO.

It was still relatively early (for Miami) when we arrived at about 7:45pm. While there was no wait, the restaurant was still pulling in a good crowd. They didn’t reach a wait while we there, but the steady flow of business was maintained. We were warmly greeted and given our choice of several open tables.

Chips and salsa arrived promptly for us to munch on. Talavera provides two types of chips and two types of salsa. Right, I neglected to take a picture of the chips, but one looked like a flour tortilla that had been cut into smaller pieces and fried and the other was blue corn.

The salsa on the right had a slightly sweet taste to it with a kick. I honestly don’t know what was in it. The salsa on the left tasted like tomatillo and cilantro and had a mild spice. Both salsas tasted better with the blue corn tortilla although I’m not sure why.

The menu has plenty of choices and we refrained from gorging ourselves on the first visit. As appetizers, we both had a cup of soup. The cups are normal sized cups with just enough soup. Lovey had the black bean which looked fantastically hearty and tasted just as well. I had the tortilla soup. I will admit that at first glance, I was put off by my soup as it just didn’t look anything like I thought it should, but after the first taste, it didn’t matter what it looked like. Tomatillo was certainly utilized in the tortilla soup but it gave the soup a light and refreshing quality. Each of the soups had small strips of tortilla and a sprinkling of cheese in them.

Before moving on to the main course, of course we had margaritas!! Lovey had The Original and I had The Ambitious. While I didn’t try his, I had my hands full with my own. Let’s just say that the bartender makes a damn good drink.

After much indecision, I finally settled on Tacos de Chilorio and Lovey had the Mexico City Beef Tacos, left and right respectively.

Wow! Let me start with the rice. I love when Lovey’s mom makes rice. I don’t know what she does to it, but it’s fantastic. Talavera is giving her a run for her money. Each order of Tacos de Chilorio comes with a small side of guacamole which was also quite tasty. You would think that five tacos is an awfully large serving, but after you eat the first one, you know you’ll have no problem finishing the rest. The pork was soft and delicious.

The Mexico City Beef Tacos are just as delicious. Although you can’t see them, the tortillas are the same size as the ones you see on my plate and they’re hiding in that little silver basket. I don’t know if it’s the cut of meat or what they marinate it in, but the beef was just plain fantastic and I don’t really care for red meat. Lovey had no problem putting them all away.

I believe the dessert menu changes often as our server explained them to us rather than providing a menu. The only sadness of the trip was that they didn’t have the fantastic sounding churro dessert. We instead had a chocolate souffle with a scoop of ice cream. It surprised us with just a touch of spicy, just like it might in Mexico.

The bill came in at the regular price it does when we go out for a meal and have three courses and drinks, so I didn’t find it to be overpriced, or even expensive, especially considering that 40% of our bill was liquor. All in all, it was a lovely meal in a lovely environment and I can’t wait to try it out again.

The Yard House – A review

Look! I don’t write anything for 2 weeks then I give you 2 posts in one day. Que exciting, non? (I know you like my FreSpanglish)

This past Saturday afternoon, Lovey and I took a journey over to Merrick Park, which is basically the mall where I can’t afford to shop. No matter, though, for Merrick Park houses what could very well be my new favorite restaurant, The Yard House.

Lovey and I had tried once before to come to this place, but it was on a Saturday night and it was jam packed. Neither of us is big on crowds and we really just wanted a drink and maybe a snack, so we took our business elsewhere. I am not, of course, faulting them for being busy. We knew that we needed to give it another shot and let me tell you, they really came through.

Being a sports/beer bar, the two things you might notice first upon arrival are, well, the tons of televisions and the huge bar. The hostess even asked if there was a specific game on that we wanted to watch so she could put us next to that television. Quality.

Service was above average. Our waitress was knowledgeable (which is no small task considering their beer menu alone!) and friendly. We only had to look for her once and that was more because we were dilly-dallying and not her.

Let’s talk food!

I’m not a foodie. Basically, if it tastes good, I like it. You know how things taste FANTASTIC when you’re hungry? Well, I was hungry but I’m fairly certain that the food was also just really good.

We started with their Spinach Cheese Dip. By their definition it is baked with feta, jack cheese, parmesan and cream cheese served with crispy flat bread. It’s hard to mess up a dip. The Yard House needn’t worry. They do this well. Truthfully, the dip isn’t that spectacular, but the flat bread really makes the dish. When they say crispy, they really mean it. It very well may have been fried but it had no greasy texture at all. Sorry, no picture of this one.

Because TYH has a gazillion beers on tap, they have a six-pack sampler that allows you to (ever so slowly) work your way through their selection. They’re even nice enough to change it every Tuesday. Those are the six that we had over on the left and they included: Erdinger Hefetrub Weisse, Shock Top, Brooklyn Lager, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Highland Gaelic Ale, and Dogfish 90 Minute IPA.

As far as beer goes, I’m no connoisseur, hell, I can barely spell that. I do, however, know what I like and do not like. Two beers fell into the “Oh hell no I’d never drink that again” category , two were “Hmmm, I’d try it again I suppose” and two were “Damn, that’s pretty good”.

The good:
Erdinger and Murphy’s Irish Stout
Honestly, I was surprised at the Stout. I went in fully expecting to not like it. I was wrong. It doesn’t have that fizz of beer but it still has a nice kick. Seems perfect for dropping a shot of Bailey’s/Jameson into. The Erdinger, well, if you have a chance to, I suggest you try it. It’s brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law. It’s smooth and tasty and a 5.3 kick compared to the Stout’s 4.0. (Stout is the upper right corner mostly hidden and Erdinger is center hidden.)

The not-quite-bad:
Shock Top and Brooklyn Lager
There are some things that I just don’t care for and citrus flavored beer happens to be one of those things. I don’t want a lime in my Corona (when there’s absolutely nothing else available), nor do I care for Micheladas. That said, a beer with orange flavoring isn’t likely to win my favor. Granted, the Shock Top didn’t totally disgust me and I’d think briefly about trying it again if I were in that fram of mind. Oh, and it’s cloudy. I don’t like that. Brooklyn Lager I’ve actually had before, but I didn’t remember until I tasted it. Some things I recognize by their bottle. It’s a little strong and bitter for me, but I’d still drink it again to try to give myself some culture. They weigh in at 5.2 each. (Shock is in the back row, left, and Brooklyn is front and center.)

The ugly (for me):
Highland Gaelic Ale and Dogfish 90 Minute IPA
Oh my. These two are not two that I will be revisiting. I’m sure there are people out there that like, maybe even love these beers….it’s just not me. These two are bitter, bitter, bitter. I guess that’s “hoppy”. Dogfish has been called the best IPA in America by Esquire magazine, but maybe my palate just isn’t ready. To keep with the flow of things, though, they come in at 5.8 and 9.0(!). We were buzzed before the food came. (Highland is front left and Dogfish is front right.)

On with more food!

Lovey had the Mac and Cheese which I did not get a picture of because he was busy tearing it up. I had a bite. It was pretty good for mac and cheese. It also had chicken, mushrooms and bacon and it’s just so hard to go wrong with bacon.

I had the Chicken Enchilada stack shown at the left. I guess it looks kinda gross, but it tasted fantastic! When I ordered it, the waitress asked if I was okay with spicy food so I was expecting a little mouth burn. That was probably my only disappointment in the entire trip. It wasn’t spicy at all. Or maybe it is to some people, just not those who worked in a Tex-Mex restaurant for four years or lived in Mexico for a couple. It’s got chicken and pasilla peppers (which I had never had before but wow are they good) along with a garlic cream sauce and the mandatory tortillas. Also, it doesn’t look huge, but I barely got through half of it and the other half was even better the next day!

Part of the reason I only ate half of my entree is because I LOVE DESSERT! It is, by far, my favorite part of any meal and I will skimp on appetizers and my entree to leave room for it. Priorities? Whatever.

The dessert menu isn’t huge, but the portioning is perfect. It’s enough to quiet your sweet tooth, but not so much that you feel like a total hog for eating the whole thing. That little baby over there is a creme brulee. Only my favorite dessert EVER. On the side and the top there are carmelized bananas. Under the bananas was the delicious goodness that I was waiting for plus a surprise I wasn’t expecting. You see, well, no you don’t, but anywho, on the bottom was a layer of chocolate which was a nice touch.

Overall, I’ve nothing to complain about from TYH. It was a mildly expensive lunch but hey, we’re stimulating the economy. If there’s one in your area and you haven’t been, get on your horse and ride!!