Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Devil Dawg's

It was getting pretty late on Friday night. Noam and I were on our way to join some friends at Kelly's Pub. Some of you may recall that my summary of Kelly's Pub was cheap appetizers. I was looking forward to a plate of overly cheesy nachos, but the kitchen was closed when we got there. The friendly owner came over and bought us all a round of drinks, making the trip to Kelly's worthwhile. However, when 1:30AM rolled around, the lights came on (basically telling us to get the hell out). Still a little early to call it a night, Noam and I decided to grab some late night eats. Luckily for us, on the walk home we came across Devil Dawg's (no website, on the corner of Sheffield and Webster).

There's not much to Devil Dawg's. They've got a few fryers and a grill. The whole building is one small room. You walk in at one end of the counter, order, pay, and step outside to wait for your food (I could see this being annoying in the winter). They've got a few picnic tables outside if you want to eat there, but all the food is served to go as far as I can tell. From ordering to eating it took about 8 minutes. When we got there, there wasn't any line, but as we left it was maybe 10 people deep.

The menu is mostly hot dogs with slight variations, french fries, and steak burgers. They often run specials for students, but even without a deal, a hot dog is $2.25 which is pretty cheap. If you want one of their fancier dogs (i.e. chili cheese) it might run you $3. At Gene and Jude's, the dog's are cheap but small. Here I got a pretty cheap, normal sized dog.

The Food
Noam and I kept it simple and just ordered two Chicago style hot dogs. It had all the right components in the right proportions. The dog didn't have any charring, but it did have a very nice snap when you bit through the casing. One issue was that the bun was a little soggy. I think what happened was that when they spooned out the relish, they got a lot of the liquid.

The Chicago Style Hot Dog

Devil Dawg's is very simple. I liked that we were served pretty quickly late at night and that we didn't have to fight any major crowd (especially considering the bars had just closed). The dog was very standard plus a few points for the snap and minus a few points for the soggy bun. I'm giving Devil Dawg's 2.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Devil Dawgs on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Walker Brothers

Last weekend for the high holidays everyone was back in the suburbs. Normally, after I break the fast, I'm not hungry again until dinner the next day. However, Sunday morning, the whole crew wanted to go grab some breakfast. In the Buffalo Grove area there are a few standard good places that people go for brunch. I worked for Egg Harbor for a while, and I think my family's a little tired of their menu from visiting me while I was working. The choice then became clear... Walker Brothers.

They've got lots of locations, and I've been to almost all of them. They're all logistically the same. No reservations are taken. Instead you wait in line to reach the host stand and then get seated. Depending on your timing, this line can be nothing or an hour long. Most of them do have a lot of seating, and usually even if the line is long it moves at an alright speed. This time around we were through it in 5 minutes. Our server was on par and kept the coffee full.

The better items (omelettes, specialty pancakes, etc.) are all around $10, but you get a pretty huge portion of food. I've never thought it wasn't worth the money. One thing to note is that a few of the specialty dishes take a little longer to cook. I'd say that if the restaurant seems packed not to order one of these because it might take even longer.

The Food
My dad got the Banana Pancakes, Noam got the Banana Crepes, I got the Danish Garden, and my mom got the Toasted Pecan Belgian Waffle. The Pancakes and the Crepes were loaded with bananas. The crepes had a nice texture, but were a little too sweet and saucy for me. The pancakes were fluffy as could be. The Belgian Waffle was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside as it should be. There were tons of toppings too. The Danish Garden is one of those specialty dishes that takes time. It's kind of like a vegetable quiche with havarti cheese, and it's unbelievable. My mom likes getting it with some of the mushroom dipping sauce on the side too. We also had an order of the hash browns well done. This is the way hash browns were meant to be. They're thinly grated with onions, and they're crispy as can be. Definitely the gold standard of hash browns.

 The Banana Pancakes

The Toasted Pecan Belgian Waffle

The Banana Crepes

The Danish Garden

The Hash Browns

We didn't order some of their more popular dishes, but I think they deserve mention. I am of course speaking of the Apple Pancake and the German Pancake. The Apple Pancake is almost like an apple monkey bread covered in the sweetest syrup around. The German Pancake is a humongous, fluffy, pancake that comes out in the shape of a bowl. It's served with powdered sugar and lemons for topping. This was my go to childhood breakfast.

I grew up on Walker Brothers (as I'm sure most of you reading this have too), so it's a little tough for me to rate it. If you've already formed your own opinions that's fine, but what mine ultimately boils down to is that they've got dishes that you can't get anywhere else that are fantastic. Sometimes it can take a while if it's busy, but it's always worth it. The Apple Pancake, German Pancake, and Danish Garden are unbeatable (as are the hash browns). I'm not giving it a Pearl rating just because I don't think I can. The thing is that there's always a kind of "wow" factor that comes into play when I try a good restaurant for the first few times. Walker Brothers is better than good, and the dishes I just mentioned are great, but for me that factor is gone. If you're a regular then I hope you get what I'm saying. If that doesn't apply then I suggest you become a regular.

I recently went to the Walker Brothers on Green Bay Road with my dad and some of his buddies before hitting up a NU football game. It was cold and rainy out, but the food kept our bellies nice and full throughout the game. I got the Dutch Baby and Hash Browns this time. I think the Danish Garden and Apple Pancake are still the way to go. Either way, the point is that this location is consistently good as is the one mentioned in the post above.

Walker Bros. Original Pancake House-Lincolnshire on Urbanspoon
Walker Bros Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Al's #1 Italian Beef

A while back I told you about the Travel Channel show "Food Wars." The premise is to have competing restaurants have a showdown over some specialty dish for the city. The Chicago food war was between Mr. Beef and Al's Beef for the title of best Italian beef in the city. My plan was to recreate this food war and see for myself. Mostly, I wanted to do this because I couldn't believe how badly Al's lost in this competition. I'd been to Al's a bunch of times before but not in a few years. Finally, Lisa and I ran over there after volunteering last week.

Al's Beef has multiple locations throughout the city with the main spot on Taylor in Little Italy. We didn't want to schlep out there, and we were right next to the River North spot which is why we chose that location. It's a simple order at the counter operation. They have a parking lot in an area where parking is scarce, and they have a drive through. However, I wouldn't recommend the drive through because the meal can get pretty messy. It wasn't very crowded when we went, and we got our food within 5 minutes of ordering. They also have this interesting awning in the middle of the parking lot with a bunch of tables for outdoor seating. Although we basically ate next to large buildings and a traffic jam, it was still nice to be outside. One time my parents went to Al's on Taylor, and because of the lack of outdoor seating they ate on the hood of their car. From then on the hood had a permanent grease stain.

I thought the cost was maybe a little pricey, but I mostly didn't like the upcharge for peppers. They have combination meals where you can get a sandwich, fries, and a drink for around $8, so I guess it's not so bad.

The Food
They've got lots of options, but really the only reason to go is for the beef. We each ordered an Italian Beef Sandwich with both Sweet and Hot Peppers, and we got them dipped. We also got an order of French Fries.
The flavors are right in your face with the first bite. Honestly, I could've had a meal with just the dipped bread. The jus came pouring out of it with every bite, and it was packed with herbs and spices. The sweet peppers were pretty normal, but the hot peppers/giardiniera were exceptional. It added a hearty crunch and a tolerable spicy kick to the sandwich. The meat was juicy and flavorful, but the one flaw was that it was a tad grainy as if it had been overcooked (the sandwich could have been fuller too). Of the many times I've eaten at Al's, this was the only time I had an issue with the meat. Some people say that the location makes a difference, and that the one on Taylor is the one worth going to. Still, I thought that this sandwich held it's own in complexity and taste. The fries are awesome. They have a really nice crisp with a soft center, and there are still some remnants of the skins.

The Italian Beef Sandwich (Hot, Sweet, and Wet)
The French Fries

Mr. Beef was all about large amounts of meat without an interesting additional flavor. Al's on the other hand brings it all to the plate. The jus is in a whole other ballpark, and the giardiniera would be good on practically anything. As I said, this time the meat wasn't as up to snuff, but I've been here enough to give them the benefit of the doubt. Even with the meat issues, I still thought the sandwich was significantly better than Mr. Beef. I'm giving Al's #1 Italian Beef 4 out of 5 Pearls. If you recall, I gave Mr. Beef 2.5.

I'm not convinced that either of these places is the best in the city. I've gotten some good suggestions from you guys, and I'll take them to heart as I keep on searching.

Al's #1 Italian Beef on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 20, 2010

Trattoria Gianni

At the end of August my roommate from this past year, Steve, moved to Arizona for dental school. This meant that none other than Rick Gross CPA was moving into the upstairs room. Ricky's Mom's house just happens to be in the same neighborhood as the Schneider's house. It wasn't too long before the two mothers decided we should have a roommate and parents dinner to welcome in Ricky. The onus of picking a spot was placed on me. I was instructed to pick somewhere interesting but that everyone would like. I picked a place. Then Ricky decided it should be BYOB. So I picked somewhere else. Then Schneider decided that was too adventurous. So I picked again. Then both of them decided it should be somewhere close to our apartment. At this point I'd made and canceled 3 reservations, so I let them pick the place. We ended up heading right around the corner to Halsted and Willow to hit up what was previously a quiet little Italian restaurant called Trattoria Gianni (when I say previously, I mean that it was quiet until Ricky got there).

Trattoria Gianni is right across the street from the Steppenwolf theater, and I think the crowd depends on whether or not there's a show that night. I've been there twice and had reservations both times. It's not hard to get one, but even if you don't you'll probably get sat pretty quickly. The service was pretty good, but the food took a little longer than I would have hoped.

The cost was more reasonable for some things than others. The homemade pasta dishes were around $15, but the portions varied. The appetizers were between $7-$10, and besides the calamari the portions were far too small. The veal, which was a popular entree, was very small. At the same time, my dad's pasta was gigantic. So between the cost and the portions it can be a little hit or miss.

The Food
We started off with some appetizers for the table including the Fried Calamari, the Marinated Portabello Mushroom, and the Polenta with Mushrooms. I didn't try the Calamari, but the table had mixed feelings about the texture and seasonings. The Polenta had a nice creaminess inside and a crispy outside. The Mushroom was tasty and well marinated, but it was far too small.

 The Polenta

The Calamari

The Marinated Portabello Mushroom

Most everyone with us got a salad whether it was the Caesar, the Variopinta (apple, pear, pine nuts, and goat cheese), or the Caprese. These were all very well dressed with nice peppery seasonings. I liked that in the Caesar dressing you could taste the anchovies. The Caprese had a very fresh sense to it as well. I'd recommend any of their salads.

 The Variopinta Salad

The Caprese Salad

The Caesar Salad

For the entrees we got the Tagliatelle Bolognese, the Gnocchi, the Rigatoni, the Spinach Ravioli, the Veal Scaloppine, and the Marinated Chicken with Spinach and Mushrooms. We were informed by our waitress that you can combine any two dishes that you'd like. Accordingly, most everyone made their own combo platter of those dishes I mentioned. The Tagliatelle was tasty with a rich sauce. The Gnocchi was good, but they stuffed it with ricotta cheese which threw me on the texture a bit. The Ravioli was in a brown butter sage sauce that was a little heavy on the butter. The ravioli itself had a nice flavor to it but was a little too al dente for my liking. Everyone who had the Veal absolutely loved it. Mrs. Schneider got the Chicken and seemed very content as well. The Rigatoni was in a basil cream sauce with sun dried tomatoes that made it my favorite pasta dish.

 The Veal

The Marinated Chicken with Spinach and Mushrooms

The Ricotta Stuffed Gnocchi
The Brown Butter and Sage Ravioli

The Tagliatelle Bolognese

The Rigatoni

There was a general consensus reached by all which was that the quality of the food was fantastic, but the portions didn't necessarily live up to the prices. Homemade pastas, fresh salads, and tender meats are the hallmarks of a meal at Trattoria Gianni. The last time I was there, I even saw Ted Allen eating there (which means it must be good right?). I'm giving Trattoria Gianni 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Also, after the meal we were in the mood for dessert. None of the special desserts they had really struck our fancy, so I took everyone over to Annette's Italian Ice. It won't be open for much longer as the season comes to an end, so if you're in Lincoln Park and in the mood for ice cream I suggest you hit it up.

Trattoria Gianni on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Aunt Ruth's Kitchen

Normally I don't write about home cooked meals, but in this case I'll make an exception. The month of August is an eventful month for my parents. In a matter of three weeks they each have their birthdays, and smack dab in the middle is their anniversary. My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ed wanted to do something to celebrate these three events, and decided to invite the whole family over for dinner the other night.

 Happy Birthdays and Anniversary to you!

There's not much logistically in this case, so I'll give some background on my Aunt and her cooking. Not only is she an excellent cook, but she's extremely adventurous with what she'll make. She makes complicated recipes look easy and easy recipes taste great. One thing that stands out about her home is that the walls are covered with bookshelves. A large portion of one of the shelves is devoted to cook books, and I wouldn't be surprised if she's already cooked through most of the recipes.

Something that you all have to check out is her website, Ruth's Kitchen. Here she's listed some of her favorite recipes, and this is definitely my go to for interesting cooking ideas. Additionally, if you want a traditional recipe for a Jewish home, there is no better place. If you've attended any of my shabbat dinners over the past year, you've likely tried many of these recipes. You might not all get invited over to her house for dinner, but at least you can try out some of her favorites in your kitchen.

The Food
I'd like to first extend an apology to my Aunt Ruth if my descriptions are slightly inaccurate or not up to snuff. Normally I have a menu to review as I write to make sure I've gotten the flavor profiles and dish titles correct. I hope this is suitable.

The first thing we had was some homemade bread. It had a hearty crust and somewhat of a sourdough flavor inside. It was similar in style to the bread that was served at the Girl and the Goat but was significantly better in both texture and flavor. This was then followed by a chilled Peach Soup. Sometimes I find cold fruit soups to be either too runny or too thick and smoothie like, but the texture of this soup was right in the middle. It was a refreshing way to start the meal.

 The Homemade Bread

For the main course we had cold Roasted Asparagus, Heirloom tomatoes, and Halibut. The vegetables were well dressed with what I think was a spicy olive oil that gave them a real nice kick. The Halibut was cooked perfectly and had a crispy crust.

 The Halibut

The Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

The Roasted Asparagus

In a traditional European style we had salad after the main course. It was a Fig and Arugula salad that was dressed similarly to the veggies but had a much more peppery flavor to it. The salad was light and had a nice balance with the citrusy figs.

 The Arugula and Fig Salad

For dessert my Aunt made something special. I don't know if you picked up on this, but up to this point the meal was very healthy. My family has always focused on healthy eating, and I think it's largely due to influence from my grandmother. At the same time, there's always been an understanding that dessert should be fantastic at any cost. That being said, Aunt Ruth gave us what I think was her Caramel Spice Cake. It had faint hints of nutmeg which usually I dislike, but this cake was great. It was moist to the point where it melted in your mouth, and the frosting had just the right amount of sweetness. It was rich, scrumptious, and most importantly there were leftovers for me to take home.

 The Caramel Spice Cake

In what could be one of the last of my "summer" meals, this one encompassed so many of the right components. We had fresh fruits and vegetables combined in both a nice salad and chilled soup. The fish allowed for a large meal without me feeling far too full. From start to finish the meal was impeccable, and I hope my Aunt continues to host meals for special occasions. You can find almost all of these recipes on her website, and I encourage you to try them out and let her know how they go.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thai Wild Ginger

Over these past few weeks I feel like I've been (in the words of Curly) a victim of circumstance. Normally I won't go to the same type of restaurant this many times in a month, but I just happened to plan meals with people who were craving Thai food. Last weekend the Professor was staying over while he attended the North Coast Music Festival during the day. On Sunday when he got back, the two of us and Ricky decided we'd get food, and I tried lots of places that ended up being closed on Sundays. However, I remembered seeing some Thai place next door to Pequod's. Now Ricky was throwing a little bash at our apartment, and we didn't have time to go out before people started arriving. So I picked up the phone and called in our order to Thai Wild Ginger.

As I said, we didn't have time to eat there, and it wasn't too far away so I decided to pick it up. After calling in the order, I was told it would be 15 minutes. I got there about that time and the order was ready and waiting. I got a nice glimpse of the restaurant while I was there, and it's basically a quiet little one room restaurant. I thought it was funny that they had lots of autographed pictures on the wall from the ABC 7 News Team. Interestingly though, they were missing the only picture that you usually see (and the only one that matters), Steve Dolinsky (The Hungry Hound).

The cost was right around the other Thai places I've been at recently. Each of our entrees was close to $7, and they also threw in some free crab rangoons with our order. The portions were probably the best for the money of the past places I've been. One thing that wasn't appreciated was that the Prof got shrimp which had a $2 up charge that wasn't all that clear on the menu.

The Food
We didn't order any appetizers, but as I said they gave us some free Crab Rangoons. They were very good and had a nice balance of cream cheese and crab. Also, the wrapper was a the right combo of doughy and crispy.

 The Crab Rangoon

For our entrees Ricky got the Spicy Basil Chicken, the Professor got Shrimp Pad Thai, and I got the Chicken Pad Khee Mao. It was very appreciated that neither of the Chicken dishes were overcooked, and there was still some juiciness. The Spicy Basil Chicken had lots of veggies and a tasty brown sauce. The Pad Thai was a little bit dry and could've used more sauce. Still, the flavor that was there was great and better than both Silver Spoon and Dao. The Pad Khee Mao had a lot of veggies and chicken as well, plus the sauce was a nice combination of sweet and spicy. The noodles were a little bit soft and could've probably been crisped up some more.

 The Shrimp Pad Thai

The Chicken Pad Khee Mao

The Spicy Basil Chickn

Of the past 3 Thai places, Thai Wild Ginger was definitely my favorite. The cost and the food were both the best. I think it says a lot that I thought the food quality was the best even after taking it to go. I think what made this the better place was that the flavors weren't muddled and the dishes maintained their textures. Even though this was my favorite, there were still some improvements to be made to a few of the dishes. I'm giving Thai Wild Ginger 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

 Some of you may have noted the new logo at the top of the page. I'd like to extend a special thanks to Josh Finkle for putting that together.

Thai Wild Ginger on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 9, 2010


This summer, my good friend Michael Berger (MFB) had an internship in Chicago and lived in Lincoln Square. As a big fan of JEC he often called me to go grab a bite. Because of him, I hit up some of my favorite spots including Great Lake Pizza, Chicago Brauhaus, and Dee's Mandarin Restaurant. It was a plan of ours to go out for brunch before he went back to Champaign, but because of poor planning on my part this never materialized. MFB had a place all picked out in Lincoln Square that he'd been to previously and said I had to try.

This past weekend Noam and Lisa wanted to grab breakfast somewhere. Pannenkoeken, MFB's suggestion, has a location in Wicker Park in addition to Lincoln Square, and that's where we decided to go.

I've never seen a restaurant as bare bones as this one. I'm not necessarily saying that it was a bad thing, but it was a little odd. The room was very disorganized with tables strewn throughout. There was probably enough seating for 30 people or so. The whole restaurant was seemingly run by two waitresses with no hostess, manager, or bus boy to be seen. The kitchen was in the back with a window looking in, and it also seemed minimally staffed. I felt like they had recently found a gutted store front and slapped together a breakfast joint. If they wanted to, they could probably pick up and move locations in an hour. At the same time, our service was pretty good besides the lack of water refills.

There is pretty minimal seating, but we went at 10:30 and got sat right away. For some reason, this place isn't really getting packed, and I think it's because it's a little separated from the other main restaurant strips in Wicker Park. The hours are a little goofy with the restaurant only open for breakfast and lunch on the weekends so that they can close for private parties throughout the week. The location in Lincoln Square has more regular hours.

The cost is very reasonable for breakfast. You'll probably spend $7 on your main dish, and coffee drinks are around $2. It wasn't an extremely large amount of food, but there was definitely enough to make it worth your money.

The Food
The majority of the menu is a selection of Pannenkoekens (dutch pancakes) with different toppings (some sweet and some savory). The three of us decided to share the Apple Pannenkoeken, the Veggie Pannenkoeken, and the Spinach and Feta Omelette. I'd only ever had a dutch pancake at Walker Brothers before this and was expecting much of the same (a large, thin, doughy pancake with heaped up sides). It wasn't necessarily the same, but the texture was still there (just not the heaped up sides). Both Pannenkoekens were delicious. The Apple had a nice layer of thinly sliced apples and whipped cream, while the veggie was littered with mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, and cheese. The Veggie could've used a little something though and was kind of bland. Maybe a hollandais or some other sauce would've done nicely. The Omelette was very nicely done as well. It was loaded with spinach and feta, and the eggs were cooked just the right amount. The hash browns on the side were a little dry and not necessarily all that hot when we got them.

 The Veggie Pannenkoeken

The Apple Pannenkoeken

 The Spinach and Feta Omelette

I had a tough time getting past the bare bones feel of the restaurant. It reminded me more of a cafe than a brunch restaurant. Still, I was impressed at how well they were able to manage with so few staff members. I think when we needed change for our bill the waitress went into her purse. The food was very tasty, but nothing that will blow you out of the water. I think I'd like to try the location in Lincoln Square to see if it is any different. Mostly, if you're looking for a place to get an efficient breakfast in with some flavor then this is your place. Not having any crowd to fight was a nice touch as well. I'm giving Pannenkoeken 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

pannenkoeken Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 6, 2010


Last Sunday was a busy day. It started at 4:00 AM when my alarm went off. I was in the Chicago Sprint Triathlon, and my start time was 6:04 AM. I'd packed the night before, and my plan was to ride my bike to the starting line. When I hopped on my bike however, I realized that my front tire was low on air. I pumped it back up, but then it just seemed to leak uncontrollably. I'd never changed a flat before, but I had no other choice. After multiple attempts, I finally changed the tube and was on my way. I barely made it to the starting line in time, but ultimately the race was very successful. After the race, my cheering section (my parents and Maddie) and I went back to the 11 City Diner for breakfast. My parents wanted to go to Yolk, but the wait was 45 minutes. Also, I'd like to say that 11 City was good, but the breakfast isn't nearly as good as the lunch/dinner menu (maybe 3.5 pearls for breakfast vs. the  (5) I gave for dinner).

It was my Mom's birthday, so after breakfast, my parents went together to the White Sox game. I went home to study the differences among the types of Gram - bacteria. We all got back together (Lisa too) for dinner in Old Town. I'm not sure exactly how my dad heard about this place, but he suggested we hit up Salpicon. I hadn't heard much about it except from Maddie who'd been there twice. All I knew was that it was an upscale Mexican restaurant that had a monstrous selection of tequila.

Salpicon is a relatively small restaurant on the second floor of a building in the less busy part of Old Town near Wells and Division. Accordingly, there's plenty of parking on that part of the street. We had a reservation, and it's basically required because of the size. I don't think they accommodate walk ins well unless it's an off time.

Our waiter was knowledgeable, but to a ridiculous level. Before we could even think about asking him for advice on the menu, he went into a lengthy speech on the differences in all of their tequilas. Then, after bringing our drinks, he went into a diatribe on each menu item that was supposedly so unique that you couldn't get it anywhere else in the city. Although he was an ideal waiter with service and refilling water and all, we were literally dreading every time he came to the table. I thought my dad would stop him from talking at one point, but we kept thinking he would stop on his own (even though he never really did until other tables needed him). My suggestion here is to make a reservation at a relatively busy time so that your waiter doesn't have time to annoy you.

The cost is another issue here. The menu has some reasonable options (for an upscale restaurant) with appetizers around $8 and entrees from $18-$28. On the menu it said that the house margarita was $7, and we all asked the waiter for one. He then asked us if we like light, medium, or full bodied tequila (and we responded accordingly). I guess he took it upon himself to upgrade the tequila to a specific type, thus making our drinks $13 (only discovered when the bill arrived). Also, I don't like it when the only suggestions made are the most expensive options. Obviously the pricier items are probably special, but he made it seem like the lower priced entrees were not worth getting. Between the actual prices and the price of deception, it came out to more than $50 per person.

The Food
Like I said, we all started with some margaritas. He said what specific tequilas were in each, but in our lecture on the menu I forgot what those were. For our appetizers we got the Trio de Tamalitos (3 little tamales) and the Queso Fundido con Camarones (Chihuahua Cheese Fondue with Chiles and Shrimp). The Tamales were pretty good with lots of interesting spicy sauces and cheeses. The tamales themselves were nice and soft as well. The waiter wouldn't stop raving about the Fondue, and I don't really know why. It was well spiced, but basically it was just a pot of hot cheese with some shrimp.

 The Margarita

The Queso Fudido con Camerones

The Trio de Tamalitos

For the entree my mom got the Roasted Duck with Plantains in a Mole sauce, my dad got Lamb Loin with Tamales, Lisa got a Roasted Chicken Dish with Queso Fresco and a tomato based sauce, and I got the Sea Bass with Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions in a Spicy Chile sauce. Since I'd just had duck at Frontera, I decided not to order it, but I got to try some of my mom's. It nice and rare with a not overwhelmingly spicy kick. My dad's Lamb was really juicy and tender, and the tamales were better than the appetizer. Lisa's Roasted Chicken was moist and had a nice crispness to the exterior. I loved my dish. The fish had a nice exterior crisp, and it was perfectly cooked in the middle. The sauce was very spicy, but overall everything balanced well between the veggies, sauce, and fish.

 The Roasted Duck with Plantains and a Dark Mole

The Lamb Loin and Tamales

The Roasted Chicken with Onions and Queso Fresco

The Sea Bass with Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions

For dessert we had a Mocha Cake of sorts with Vanilla Ice Cream. It was rich, tasty, and refreshing. Not that it was large, but after the plenty of food we'd just had, it was the right amount to leave us all with a sweet taste at the end.

 The Mocha Cake and Ice Cream

Across the board, the entrees were fantastic. They were each built around a unique chile that is probably not used too much in the city. The sauces were complex and packed a punch. Still, from the obnoxious service and the cost, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. It was the opinion of everyone there that although the food was tasty that no one really wanted to come back. If I could be promised to eat in peace, I would definitely come back. I thought the food was worth it and am giving Salpicon 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Salpicon on Urbanspoon