I took myself out for a date tonight to Pescau Restaurant here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Now, taking yourself out for a date is something I think everyone should do. Even if you have a partner. It’s good to remind yourself that you can enjoy your own company, and to treat yourself from time to time.
First, of all, Pescau Restaurant is beautiful. I’ve often stopped outside of it and looked at the scene through the doorway and wished I was inside. Of course, I’m a sucker for mood lighting, chill-out music, and any kind of ambiance that makes me relax while I’m eating. Hey, did you know that restaurants that dim the lighting charge 20 percent more, and if there’s mood lighting, it’s at least 30 percent more! Give us some pretty blue lighting, and everyone’s a goner. Yeah, I told you, I’m a sucker.
One thing I should note about the restaurant’s ambiance, though. Instead of aquariums, they have TV’s of fish and other sea creatures swimming around in the ocean (our sad digital age). What is with that? That’s like going to a steak restaurant and being surrounded in a room full of TV’s of cows all staring at you. Or going to the pastor taco cart and having a TV full of pigs oinking at you. Personally, I think it’s a bit strange.
I ordered the tamarind margarita which was all tamarind and no tequila. I didn’t order it dry, but I’m pretty sure they only looked at the tequila bottle when they made it. Bartenders, tequila should not be treated like vermouth! A margarita is not a martini. Ok, so I’m left unimpressed by the margarita, but at least some sort of activity seems to be happening at my table.
The waiter brings a sliver of avocado, lime with a squeezer, and some chips. What he doesn’t bring is the missing bottle of tequila. Now, what the hell am I supposed to do with this? Absolutely no instructions are given to me about these items. Am I supposed to make my own guacamole? Because this is not how I would make my guacamole. Where’s the habanero? Where’s the garlic? Where’s the cilantro? I haven’t even had a decent drink yet, and you are asking me to cook?
And second of all, I didn’t go out to dinner so that I could cook. No, I’m paying you to cook for me. Don’t expect me to make my own guacamole.
This reminds me of a restaurant in Portland, OR where I used to live. Now, I don’t know how they got people roped into this, but this restaurant actually got people to pay them to come in and make their own pancakes. Now, I am not going to pay someone so that I can do the cooking. Not when I can stay in my pajamas all day and make my own pancakes at home. SUCKERS!
Ok, I still never figured out what to do with this sliver of avocado and lime. I figured I could start making my own guacamole, but then it was probably there for the waiters to make for you, and I’d wind up getting kicked out of the restaurant for trying to make it myself. And, if the waiters were supposed to make it, this probably means it wasn’t free. I’d be charged out the yin yang for it. And, anyway, what’s up with this trend that Mexican restaurants have going where they will make guacamole at your table and charge you 3 times as much for it?
First of all, making guacamole is not fancy. It’s smashed green stuff and lime juice and whatever else , but again, SUCKERS, you will pay 3x as much to watch the slime show at your table. Next, if I’m dining at a restaurant, I want my food prepared by the chef. I don’t want it prepared by my waiter who has touched everyone else’s plates in the restaurant. And you are paying more for it ($10 for 50 cents worth of ingredients) because waiters make more than chefs. It’s sad, but it’s true. So, never get a waiter to prepare your meal.
Ok, now that rant is over with. Here’s what happened next. (I know the suspense has been killing you. See, all the interesting things that can happen when you take yourself out on a date?) I look down and near my left elbow, something new has appeared at the table. All along, I thought it was a brown candle that wasn’t lit because it’s in the same exact kind of container that my candle is in. But, I notice that it’s watery and smells like seafood. It actually smells quite good, and I didn’t have to cook it.
I drink it, and it’s delicious. Full of flavor and a very good consomme. It’s a little lukewarm, and I’m hoping it wasn’t just a dish that the waiters (who were too busy making guacamole) forgot to clear. So, I asked one of the waiters what it was, and he says, “shrimp consomme” (just like I thought). And he did the nicest thing. He brought me another candle holder full, and this time it was steaming and hot, and I really enjoyed it.
So, full of hope, I ordered my entrée. It was a hard decision, as the menu was full of choices: cold seafood, ceviche, fish, lots of shrimp dishes, smoked marlin tostadas, and shellfish stews. I went for my personal favorite: the pulpo or octopus with a chile white wine sauce.
And,…..I was disappointed. There was just no complexity to the dish. It wasn’t even that spicy. It severely needed an acid balance. It needed more flavor. I thought about asking for some guacamole for the top at this point, but they had already taken the lime and avocado sliver away. The pulpo was overcooked. The, I think it was, kale, was severely overcooked, and had the consistency of kale chips from the oven. What a lousy date this was turning out to be.
So, what did I do? I did what any reasonable sucker would do. I decided to order yet more food from this place. Because dessert makes everything better, right? Besides, they had rompope (the Mexican version of eggnog) panna cotta. How could I say no. I was offered a choice of chocolate or blackberry coulis on top, and of course, I did what any reasonable person would do, and I ordered the chocolate. I ordered an espresso to go with this, and the waiter offered me an espresso martini instead. And me, being the sucker that I am, agreed to this upgrade. After all, I had yet to have a decent drink, and I was past due for one at this point.
So, they bring the dessert (with the I’ve dusted some cinnamon on the underlying plate-you will pay 20% more upgrade), and the chocolate topping they offered was none other than disgustingly sweet cancer-causing, corn syrup-laden Hershey’s syrup. You mean to tell me that you know how to dust cinnamon on my plate, but you still don’t know that Hershey’s syrup is NOT chocolate? Who has been cooking my meal? The waiters?
The cloying sweet Hershey’s syrup masked any taste of the rompope, and it turned what could have been a great dessert into a total failure.
Now, let’s get to this espresso martini. It at least had alcohol in it, and it was decent, but it wasn’t until they brought my bill, that I found out it cost $130 pesos!! (That’s 10 US dollars, and that is freakishly expensive for Mexico) My entrée was only $160 pesos (about 12 US dollars), so that should give you an idea for comparison.
Needless to say, I left Pescau Restaurant, glad to know that there are plenty of other fish in the sea . Do yourself a favor. Skip their pretty blue lights. Go watch the fireworks in the Jardin that are constantly going off instead. Take a picnic of your own homemade guacamole and a thermos of margaritas. Now that’s a perfect night.