We decided to try Mixteco Grill based on the review on the Reader site and because we'd seen people waiting outside the restaurant as we passed on Ashland on several occasions. This space had been a hairdressing salon for several years and then another restaurant that didn't last too long. We were seated right away although they were very busy, but only on the condition that we be out by 8 because there was a reservation coming in then. How's that for a Tuesday night?! The restaurant is small and the tables all spaced quite closely together. There's a little bar at one end with about 4 stools. Since there are so many people in such a small space, the noise level was pretty high and you were in quite intimate proximity to your neighbors. We started our meal with 3 appetizers - empanandas, a ceviche, and a green salad with goat cheese and candied pecans. The empanadas were quite light, but the fillings were bland except for the portobello mushroom/corn empanada, which had a smoky flavor. The cheese one was just cheesy and nothing more, and the meat one didn't taste like much of anything--and certainly not chorizo which is what the filling looked like. The ceviche was pleasant and had a nice kick to it, but remembering the fish ceviche of the lost and lamented Rique's, it just didn't come up to scratch. The salad was a bit wilty, as if they'd put the dressing on a couple hours before. I liked the goat cheese and the bits of asparagus but missed the crunch fresh lettuce should have. My husband ordered the carne asada, which we shared. It was quite a large piece of meat (which was fine as it was a $20 entree) and came with black beans, guacamole, and corn torillas. It was very flavorful, and the salsa on top of it had a bite. A woman at the table next to us had gotten the pork chops and she was very enthusiastic about them. All in all, the food was OK, but not spectacular. Perhaps the entrees show more of what this restaurant is made of, but it doesn't compare to what Rique's was when it was open (and we'd gone to Frontera Grill and thought Rique's was much better even then). And the fact that to be sure you'll get seated, even on a Tuesday night at 7, you should have a reservation, makes me think that the whole Frontera Grill association hype is all that this place is about. There's nothing this place has that I'd wait for 20 minutes outside just to eat there. It's just not that good.
This is the 5th or 6th year we've been going to Tre Kronor's annual Julbord, a special Christmas smorgsbord. It has been our Christmas dinner with our friends and we've very much enjoyed it up until this year. We made a reservation about 3 or 4 weeks in advance for the 8 pm seating. There was also a 5 pm seating. This was a Wednesday. When we got to the restaurant at about 3 minutes to 8, a bearded young man told us brusquely that we wouldn't be seated until at least 8 and that we should wait outside. It was quite cold out and both my husband and I were suffering from very bad head colds. We had debated about cancelling the reservation that evening because of this but didn't want to leave the restaurant in the lurch as this meal was over $45 per person. Explaining our situation, the waiter told us to go to the nearby Sweden Shop (now owned by the same couple who own the restaurant) and wait inside and he would call when the room upstairs was ready. One friend stayed outside the restaurant and the other 4 of us went to the shop where we had to bang on the door because they had a "closed" sign up. It was another good 10 - 15 minutes before the call came and our friend was already halfway to the shop to get us when we met him. Apparently this bearded staff person allowed all the other diners upstairs to the smorgsbord and had not called over to us until our friend asked him if he was going to. When confronted with this by my husband, the staff person claimed he called as soon as he could, not because our friend had reminded him. We told our waitress about this and she said that she would make sure we had a good time. However, the reason we were so delayed on our seating became obvious when we saw several young men coming up from downstairs to the smorgsbord room. In the 5 years we have been doing this, we have never seen anyone except the people especially seated upstairs - with reservations - go in for the smorgsbord. The waitresses were all giggly and accomodating to these young men, and when we asked who they were and what they were doing there, we were told that these men were Detroit Redwings hockey players and that the restaurant had done an "in between" seating especially for them. It was obvious that they had just walked in the door and because of their "celebrity" status, they got preference over the rest of us who had made reservations well in advance. So instead of our 8 pm reserved seating, we were not allowed in the smorgbord room until a quarter to 9 and it took us a half hour to get someone to open our bottle of wine. We were seated right next to a window which was very drafty. The food was as good as it always is, but I have to say that the service in the last year or so has declined precipitiously even in normal restaurant visits, with appetizers and main courses coming at the same time, overcooked food and so on. Our treatment at this Julbord has really been the last straw. We will not be coming to the Julbord again, and it doubt highly we will even bother to come for breakfast there. I don't know if it's a training issue with the waitstaff or that because the owners now are running two businesses simulataneously that they cannot keep a close eye on the restaurant as they had been, but dining at Tre Kronor just is not the pleasant experience it once was. And the staff and the owners should be ashamed of themselves the way they pushed aside loyal patrons for some young hockey players, no matter what their nationality. It really is too bad.
We went to Polo for a special set chef's menu prepared by the sous-chef. It started with a salad with fennel and toasted almonds. Nice flavor, not an overwhelming dressing. The main course was a chicken breast with capers and vegetables sitting on polenta which was excellent. The chicken was moist and the polenta just lovely. The vegetables were peppered so wonderfully that it seemed that I'd never had vegetables peppered properly before! The main course came with a glass of Ravenswood Merlot that complemented the meal well. Dessert was a panna cotta served with peaches and a cookie. Lovely vanilla flavor, smooth texture, and the cookie was excellent as well! We were seated in the banquet room that was a little too white for my taste, and the 50s Sinatra/Dino music also didn't appeal to me, but a nice space just the same. We were pleased that the owner, chef, and sous-chef all came out to find out how we were enjoying our meal.
Our party of three arrived at 7:30 pm on a Wednesday and were seated right away. The decor is simple but rich with woods and soft lighting, interesting art and cheery round cushions set up on the backs of the wooden booths. We were first presented with a platter of different kinds of fresh bread slices which we inhaled right away and were promptly given more when we were asked if we'd like replenishments. Very good bread. Impossible to ignore if you're eating low glycemically. The menu was small but everything we ordered was wonderful. Especially good was the heirloom tomatoes with olive tapenade and a small wedge of cheese. Just beautiful to look at and wonderful flavor. Even my husband, who says "I don't like vegetables, they taste green," loved the tomato salad. Our dinner companion had cold tomato and pear soup which piqued my curiosity but I was afraid to order it. Turns out, I needn't have been. It was superb, very sweet and light. My husband ordered mussels "arrabiata" from the appetizer menu as an entree, and while he said the mussels weren't very angry, they were good and the sauce around them had bits of bacon in it. He was also given a cup of jalepeno pesto which spiced things up a bit. I had a ribeye steak with bordelaise sauce and pomme frites with garlic aioli (didn't taste garlicky to me, though, which was a shame because I love garlic and Hopleaf does a fabulous garlic aioli). The steak was done perfectly was very tender and tasty. Our companion got an enormous double pork chop which was very tender and flavorful. We all indulged in desserts - a red cake (which didn't taste very cocoa-y to my husband, but the cream cheese frosting was very good), a warm chocolate souffle with carmelized bananas, whipped cream, and a dollop of dulce de leche gelato on top (very tasty and rich), and a chocolate pot de creme (my favorite of the bunch - just wonderful). The service was very good until about the time after we got the dessert menus, and then we had to wait a bit and grab the waiter to list the fruits/cakes of the day. But that was pretty minor considering we were talking animatedly during that time. I ordered a pot of tea and they have very nice organic black (and green and herbal) teas. No nasty Lipton/Tetley/Tao/Stash garbage. The best part of the meal was when the waiter brought the teapot and jug of milk out - the teapot was in the shape of a table covered with a tablecloth and topped with flowers, a teapot, and a glass, and the milk jug was a small elephant with another elephant head as the lid. It sounds trite and novelish, but I was so delighted I squealed. Since tonight was the 5th anniversary of the day my husband and I met (and had our first date), I'm glad Tweet turned out to be so wonderful. It's not cheap, but it's not completely outrageous either, and the food is extremely good. The owner tries to do as much organic, small farm foodstuffs as she can, and it really shows in the quality of the offerings. A lovely place for a romantic evening or just a good friendly dinner.
I've been here a few times and it's like walking backwards in time here to when I was a kid and the kinds of things we'd eat and the kind of bands and dancing that would go on at Polish weddings. My husband and I both had beers in steins, of course, and I stuffed myself full of lovely dark bread. Our waitress had the cutest, funniest voice -- like a cartoon mouse. She was very nice but I think she had too many tables. It took a while to get our food order taken. We shared a sausage and cheese salad and my husband got meatloaf with potatoes and fried onions and I have veal shanks with spaetzle. The meatloaf was wonderful but I wasn't very happy with the veal. My husband liked it, though, as do a number of his co-workers. The flavor wasn't quite right for me, which I think had something to do with the braising. The spaetzle were wonderful. My husband got a salad with his meal which actually had some mesculun in it (usually it's the iceberg lettuce kind of salad in German/Eastern European restaurants) and I got the cabbage soup which was filled with vegetables and bits of smoked pork. Yum. Portions are very large. A one man band was playing and a few people were dancing. Once couple really knew how to dance and it reminded me of watching my parents dance. It's too bad no one who grew up during or after the 60s knows how to dance. The Brauhaus is an experience - nothing quite like it anywhere. Very fun and comforting.
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