Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Where Not to Eat

I ate dinner last night at a Mexican food restaurant on Burnet road called El Mercado. I've been there before and it wasn't too bad and the place I really wanted to go is closed on Mondays, so we thought we'd give it a try.

After ordering and receiving my Diet Coke I asked for a glass of water. The waiter quickly came back to the table and, inexplicably, with a flourish, set down a dish of butter in front of me. And beamed at me, no doubt anticipating the huge tip that was coming.

"What the hell?" I said. "Maybe it's for tortillas," my date theorized. "But that's so old school. Do they really ever do that any more?"

Hm. Well, they both have two syllables and end in -ter. Wa-ter, but-ter. Okay. I'll give it to him.

(No tortillas were brought to us.)

Soon he was back, this time with a huge stack of napkins and a butter knife. Again with the beaming smile. Good waiter. My date asked him very plainly if he could bring me some water.

Then came the food. I had the Adobo Enchiladas which of course come with a side of rice and beans. The adobo was a little bright, like there might have been a ketchup component to it. But it wasn't too bad. And then I forked up a bite of beans with rice. It was awful. The beans were okay, but the rice had a very metallic undertone and reeked of rancid garlic. That would be my only bite of the rice.

When we were through and the waiter brought us the check, I told him that he should have the kitchen check the rice. "It's a little off," I said. He beamed at me again and left. My date reported, "He's bringing you a to-go container." Sure enough, seconds later he proudly placed a styrofoam container within my reach, with a couple of napkins on top. (Just in case I had used all seventeen of the ones he brought with the knife.) I laughed out loud. "No, thank you," I said. "I won't be taking this home." He looked at me, puzzled. "The rice tasted a little off. You might want to get the chef to check it." He smiled weakly, still puzzled. "It tasted bad. She didn't like it," chimed in my date. All of a sudden the waiter got it. "OH!" he exclaimed. "Is everything ok?" "Yes," I said. "Fine." "You need me to do anything?" he asked. "No, just tell the kitchen to check it. So you don't serve it to other people like that." "Just fine?" he asked. "Just fine," I said. He really didn't want to leave the table and kept hesitantly stepping backwards and then forwards. Finally he decided I really meant it and left us.

So yeah, I probably won't be giving them another visit.


At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have experienced that El Merc North suhggs-azz feelin' and I cain't fight it no mo!. Surprising since their south loc offers consistant goodness. Too bad El Norte El Merc seems to have left a orange grease snail trail to a place to get all Baby A'd up post slavery and then go drunk drivin'. But fugdadashid! Heed my words skinny mortals! Thou shalt put no booze before my comfort food or place style before and atmosphere! Get thee to a pierna burro at Arandas on Burnet post haste and get on with the simple good life Paris dreams of but will never know. As big around as your forearm, loaded with fresh avocado & slow cooked marinated pulled pork! As big as a bloomin' hedgehog it was! Wash it down with a what's kooler than cold?.. ICE COLD horchatas the way Big Daddy, JC & the Spook intienda'd! Eat to live, live to eat. -rhyno

At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That stinks you had such a bad experience there. I've always loved their food. Perhaps it was a bad day? One can hope.


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