April 24, 2012
Las Cazuelas, Philadelphia PA
[Tortilla Chips and Ranchero Salsa]
Enchiladas De Mole
I was super excited to come here with the Equestrian Team for our team year-end dinner as the reviews of the Mexican food were excellent. As I entered the restaurant, I forgot about the sketchy neighbourhood it was in. The place was quaint and cozy. The decor gave the place a casual, Mexican feel and I loved it. It was a very comfortable place, somewhere I can relax and enjoy delicious, quality comfort food. We had a large table upstairs in a sectioned-off area. I loved the map of Mexico on the wall and the music they played, though it was too loud to allow for easy conversation.
The huge disappointment of the night was a major problem, however. They were apparently extremely understaffed. The hostess was also our server and it took half an hour to place our orders and then another 10-15 minutes before she started bringing us cups of water. She made three trips for nine cups of water and they were three trips one after the other.
After we ordered, it took another twenty minutes before the server brought our Guacamole Ranchero. She did not bring the complimentary Tortilla Chips and Ranchero Salsa until another ten minutes, so we all sat there, awkwardly staring at the guacamole. It was just a lot of waiting. When we did get the chips and salsa, we all dug in. I would have preferred the chips to be warmer, but they were crispy and delicious like most freshly fried tortilla chips. There was, however, in our first basket, a stack of chips stuck together and some of the chips were a bit soggy with the oil. It just was not consistent. Our second basket of chips later on in the meal was better though. The green salsa was good. It had a very strong cilantro flavour and did not have much of a tomatillo taste. It was rather watery but refreshing and light. I wanted more heat to it, though, since it was a green salsa. I love really spiced up foods.
The guacamole was good but it was missing some acidity. More lime would have been better. The avocado was smooth and I love the strong cilantro flavour. Together with the chips, it was a Mexican classic. As we were all extremely hungry by this point, it tasted even better, though still nothing special.
I ordered for myself the Enchiladas De Mole as I saw on the reviews their traditional mole sauce was amazing. When the food finally came, after about one and a half hours of being in the restaurant, I was ready to dig in. The presentation was quite good. The sour cream, cheese, and onions garnish looked nice, as did the pyramid of Mexican rice. The beans were too close in colour to the mole sauce, I thought, but there is not much to be done about it.
After so many rave reviews, I was expecting something out of this world. I was disappointed at what I tasted. It was great Mexican food certainly, but just not as good as I thought. The corn tortillas were sort of soaked with the sauce, giving them moisture and flavour. The marinated chicken inside the enchiladas were full of flavour and quite nicely cooked for chicken. The onion garnish, however, was too strong for me. It was not sweet onions so its taste lasted too long in my mouth. I thought the cheese would be a thick, gooey layer, but what I got was powdered cheese sprinkled on top. It was flavourful by itself, but with the entire dish and not enough cheese, the flavour was lost.
The mole sauce was good, but not amazing. It had a nice smokey flavour but I could use more sweetness. I could not taste the chocolate and could barely taste any sweetness at all. The first time I ever tried mole sauce, it was really sweet. I am not expecting it to be that sweet, but in this case, I could hardly taste any sweetness. The refried beans were even in texture, quite nicely done. The Mexican rice also tasted good with the carrots and corn.
Overall, the dish was pretty good, though I will definitely try other dishes before returning to this. I also think they need to integrate some vegetables into the dish. There were no vegetable sides or vegetables inside the enchiladas. Some mixed vegetables or a refreshing cactus salad would be a really nice alteration to the dish. Right now, it is just too heavy with the chicken, tortillas, sauce, rice, and beans.
We were all frustrated with the service, even though the food was decent. The music also did not get turned down until we were almost finished with food. Apparently, it was the day one of their Groupons expired, so there was an unnatural amount of customers. However, it is a Tuesday night and it should definitely not be like this. I did enjoy my food although I am not sure the wait was completely worth it.