Monthly Archives: August 2014

Casual Restaurant Critic at Tony Roma’s

Adding to the already burgeoning list of franchises now open in Merida, Tony Roma’s (also known as Tommy Roman’s according to one dear friend) recently opened across from the City Center (Walmart) shopping center just off the periférico up in the northern half of the city, where the moneyed folks live.

The Critic loves himself some ribs, so when Better Half suggested dinner there, he was all over that idea like a hog on corn. If you have seen the Critic eat ribs, you know that to be a very accurate analogy.

The sparkling new restaurant is in yet another small plaza with the same ‘luxury’ theme so popular these days here in the formerly white city. It seems that everyone is after those big peso clients, the ones who make up the clase socioeconómica alta. What makes them alta of course is the fact that they don’t want to spend that money and so the niche is quite competitive.

A bubbly hostess who looks to be about 14 greets you at the second set of glass doors, the first of which no one will open for you but they aren’t that heavy so no big deal. She looks at the party and asks “para tres?” and since Better Half has invited LawyerCritic along, there are in fact three people and off they go, to a booth table in what is obviously the bar area of the restaurant. The music is loud, the TV screens dominate as do the varying shapes of the butts of the people sitting on bar stools at a raised table next to the booth.

The evening’s highlight is the clueless, almost Mr. Bean category waiter who shows up and asks if the table would like some drinks. LawyerCritic asks what’s the special drink of the house to which Mr Bean replies “the margaritas are good” pointing to a list of about 5 different margarita (called Romaritas – HA HA HA – clever). Upon further prompting he proceeds to haltingly describe one or two of them and finally the table orders a regular, a Cadillac and an habanero margarita.

When they arrive they come in shakers and a show is made of shaking and serving the drinks. The Cadillac is very sweet, the habanero is very sour with no spice to it and the regular one is… regular.

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After what seems an eternity, everyone’s friend Rowan comes back to see what they would like to order. Better Half orders the potato soup and a full rack of regular ribs.

“You want the full rack?” asks Mr. Bean, “or half”. Perhaps he didn’t hear Better Half so she repeated the order. He repeated it once again just to make Better Half feel like maybe she had a speech impediment or he was trying to send her a not very subliminal message about eating large portions late at night and then studiously made the annotation on his little order notepad. LawyerCritic wanted some pasta which didn’t cause too much consternation and the Critic ordered a rack with Makers Mark BBQ sauce.

“Bourbon?” asks Mr. Bean.

“Um, yes” replied the Critic, thinking up a witty retort to yet another seemingly pointless question.

Small side plates arrive which the Critic assumes are for depositing the lime garnishes from the drinks until sometime later, a little bit of bread arrives and some chilled butter. You haven’t experienced restaurant thrills until you are trying to alternately stab and spread some hard butter on your chunk of bread (warm) with a giant steak knife (see photo).

photo 1The ribs and pasta arrived a little while later, as the Critic, BetterHalf and LawyerCritic tried to make themselves heard over the noise.

Better Half asked “what about the soup?”

“Should I bring it?” replied Mr. Bean.

“NO I JUST ORDERED IT TO SCREW WITH YOUR MIND” and “NO, JUST KEEP IT IN THE KITCHEN AND SERVE IT TO ME FOR DESSERT” are what crossed the Critic’s mind but the always well-behaved Better Half being very polite simply said “yes please.”

Seeing that the glasses were empty, Mr. Bean reached and then leaned across the table presenting the better part of his upper torso to the Critic and Lawyer Critic as he vainly tried to grasp the glasses that were just beyond his reach. A simple ‘excuse me’ would have done the trick and Better Half would have handed him the empties. She asked him “would you like me to hand you these glasses?” and Mr. Bean replied “yes”, and lifted his semi-prostrate form off the table.

The simple request “Could we get some water?” was countered with “should I bring you a glass of water?” which begged a smart-ass reply like “NO DUDE, BRING ME ONE OF THOSE GARRAFONES OF WATER” but the Critic contained himself. Perhaps he was giving an option, but it wasn’t very clear.

The table tent in English read ‘Become a rib expert!’ and to ‘ask your server’ and so the Critic did.

“What is this all about?”

“I’ll bring you a form to fill out.”

Very informative. Thank you.

The ribs were fine, the french fries were excellent and the cole-slaw, the cheapest salad in the western hemisphere to make, was minuscule. Desserts were just fine, nothing to write home about or mention further in this blog. OK, there were two: a blackberry peach cobbler with ice cream and a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich.

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Food verdict for this class of restaurant? Better (and more) ribs by far at Chili’s. Better margaritas by far at Chili’s. Better desserts by far at Chili’s or Friday’s.

Service? OMG clueless to the point of hilarity.

Room? A sports bar feel without the put-together feel of Boston’s or Fridays masquerading as an upscale dining joint for Merida’s wannabe’s.

The Critic foresees a dim future for the Tony Roma’s franchise in Merida if this keeps up.

For those of you wondering how much it is to dine at this fine establishment, the bill came to $950 pesos before a tip.

Casual Restaurant Critic at Scoozis – Vancouver, Canada

Scoozis

Scoozis

 

It’s 2014 and the Critic hasn’t written anything about Vancouver in a long time so here are some new great places to stop at if you have cruise ship reservations to go to Alaska which seems to be the main reason Mexicans at least get to Vancouver. That, and to study English for a few months and get out of the house and from under the thumb of the catholic household and cut loose. But the Critic digresses.

Here are some new favourite spots. Yes, that’s a Canadian spelling on ‘favourite’.  Once Stephen Harper – along with his army of evil Cheney-like minions – takes over the world you will all be spelling it this way.

Another digression: will be EVER get to the restaurants.

Yes.

Scoozis was recommended by the nice young man at the front desk (does this sound like an old lady talking or what) when Better Half and Señor Critic asked for someplace where they served real fruit juice for breakfast, not that crap from concentrate. By the way, the word ‘crap’ was not used in the query so no need to worry – in case you were – about offending the locals and besmirching the reputations of Mexicans abroad, as if that needed any more besmirching (think World Cup and “eeeeehhh puuuto!!”). Not only did they have fresh squeezed fruit juices, but also the best eggs benedict anywhere.

Mr. and Mrs. Critic fell for this suggestion like over-ripe guayas and were at Scoozis in just under 2 minutes, as it was located right around the corner from the hotel.

Service was fantastically friendly, not a grumpy face in sight. The food was lovely and reasonably priced. The Critic had the ‘bennies’ but not in their ham version; it was the British Columbia version with smoked salmon. Unbelievably great and it is their justifiably famous hollandaise sauce that makes this signature breakfast dish pop. This was the first time that the Critic didn’t have to add salt to the baked breakfast potatoes to make the bland tuber taste like something – they were perfect just as they were.

Better Half, insistent on eating a healthy breakfast, opted for a fruit and yoghurt combination. This being Vancouver where ethnic authenticity, along with political correctness, is all the rage, the fruit was local and the yoghurt was Greek. Coffee was strong and fresh.

A great way to wake up the day. Or to wake up to the day. Or to wake up and then start the day. Whatever the phrase is, Scoozis is a great place for a real breakfast in downtown Vancouver.

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Spanish for Newbies – Helpful Hint No. 117

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Spanish for Newbies – Helpful Hint No. 117

The photo (above) is typical of one you would find in a public or semi-public parking lot in Merida and to the Merida newbie it might be a bit confusing.

If you have studied any Spanish at all, you might recognize the word – sort of – and think “Oh, I remember paloma, which means pigeon, so this might mean male paloma. A palomo!” Alas, you’d be wrong and besides, you’d still be wondering about the ‘lic’ part. I mean it’s not ‘lic’ as in ‘lick’ which could mean don’t lick the palomos, but no.

‘Lic’ is short for ‘Licenciado’ which is a title usually handed out once you have completed some sort of lawyerly career option. Once you have achieved Licenciado status, you can place it in front of your last name and often people will call you simply ‘Licenciado’ instead of using your name. Short version? Lic. Pronounced Lick. With that explanation under our belt, we can therefore deduce that the sign is referring to a Licenciado Palomo; Palomo being his last name.

And there’s that crossed out letter ‘E’ as well, which everyone who has traveled means no E’ing. Seriously though, you have studied some Spanish (maybe you’ve been to España!) and so you recognize the sign indicating no parking. Parking is estacionar in Spanish. So that crossed out ‘E’ means no parking.

Now you must put them together.

It might mean that there is no parking if you are the Lic. Palomo. So should he happen to show up, he most definitely can not park in that space as the sign is personally directed at him. It might also mean that ‘Ey, no licking palomos‘ in that space because that’s how you pronounce the letter ‘E’ en español –Ey. Third option – and this one’s a keeper – is that the space is reserved for a certain Licenciado Palomo, so don’t you go parking your damn car there.

Got it? Good.