Tag Archives: breakfast

The Casual Restaurant Critic visits Chilakillers

Chilakillers. Chilaquiles. Get it? Clever name.

The Casual Restaurant Critic, accompanied by his darling Mini-Critic, visited this restaurant this past week thanks to several recommendations that said it was a great place for, well, chilaquiles. Mini-Critic loves her some chilaquiles.

The place is really pretty, amazingly so, on a non-descript stretch of 57 between 56 and 58 in the heart of Merida’s downtown, or as some of the expats call it – Centro. As in “I live in Centro, and you?”

You can see in the photos (below) that they have taken some time to create an original and attractive room, from furniture to ceiling and wall treatments. Treatments. This is beginning to sound like a pretentious architectural piece.

The service was of the shy, slither to your table variety, with one waiter and one what appeared to be an encargado at the cash register who did nothing to acknowledge the presence of the Critics and at one point, when the waiter was needed, who was taking dishes to the back, this person waited for the waiter to reappear and wave his hand in the Critics direction indicating that he was needed there. Perhaps he had a mobility issue and couldn’t leave the comfort of his cashier area. Who knows.

The food was good, but with one table and one order, they managed to screw it up – it is unclear if it was the waiter or the kitchen, but both orders of chilaquiles with castacan and chicken both arrived without the castacan or the chicken. After some digging to see if perhaps the meats had been hidden at the bottom of the bowls, the waiter was notified and he remedied the problem, taking the dishes back to the kitchen to have the order fixed.

The plates are deceptively small-ish, but the Critic suspects you might find it difficult to finish your order, as it seems to be an endless bowl situation. No matter how many spoonfuls you take out, it never gets smaller. At the end, there are soggy corn tortilla bits and while some like those, the Critic is not a huge fan. There could have been more cheese, more onions on them too.

Prices are very reasonable, the room is pretty and the drinks were good. Try the Limpiador smoothie. That’s smoothie, not smothie.

Service is really (WHAT IS IT WITH MERIDA??) the fatal blow to this otherwise interesting option for breakfast or lunch downtown. Again, as in so many Merida restaurants, the owners have spent good money on their location, their menu, their graphics and their concept and then leaving the most important part out – good, professional customer service.

Will the Critic go back? Probably not. But you go have some chilaquiles and make up your own mind.

 

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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Casual Restaurant Critic – Merci Update

Thanks to the Twitter app HootSuite, the posts via Twitter lost their photos on the way from the Critic’s iPhone to the internet. Here are the missing photos, and the Critic can vouch for each and every one of these dishes – excellent!

The chou(x) in particular are really good; not too sweet as is often the case.

French Toast

French Toast

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Quiche

Quiche

Chou

Chou

The Casual Restaurant Critic Has Breakfast – A Puro Pan / Merci

In the company of the charming and always gastronomically adventurous Better Half, the Casual Restaurant Critic mustered up the strength to shower, get dressed and go out for breakfast on this fine Easter Sunday morning. Two restaurants were visited, in the interest of coming up with some new options for the 11 constant readers of this column and to take advantage of a lazy Sunday (and the fact that the Critic was freshly showered)

A Puro Pan

This is a new restaurant, in yet another small shopping plaza, this one called “Luxury Plaza” on that stretch of northern Merida road that starts at the “pocito” roundabout and ends where CityCenter meets the periferico. It never ceases to amaze the Critic at how many shopping plazas there are along these few kilometers – at last count there were more than 20, of varying styles, sizes and all sporting the same L shape so popular among Merida plazas. It is also amazing that all these luxury and exclusive and VIP places still have clientele; there are so many offerings for this tiny market segment.

A Puro Pan is all about bread, hence it’s name. Freshly baked bread and plenty of sandwich options are on the menu and for breakfast, some egg items as well. The Critic chose the Spanish baguette on Parmesan bread while the Better Half ordered Eggs Benedict.

Now you can’t go wrong with jamon serrano (unless you are unlucky enough to order it at the Viejo Molino – ugh) and so here, the Spanish baguette was just fine, a smallish baguette-like bread with plenty of jamon, some inexpensive local cheese. Nothing to write home about and the accompanying salad – some lettuce of varying styles possibly of the pre-washed plastic bag variety – showed signs of browning around some of the leaves and so was a little less than appetizing and the Critic did not finish his vegetables.

The Eggs Benedict however, were about as Benedict-y as the Caesar salad is Caesar-y at Trotters. In other words, not really Eggs Benedict. Eggs were baked in what appeared to be little muffin cups; not poached. Accompanied by some breakfast potatoes and atop something that looked like an English muffin and some salmon, there was no evidence of any hollandaise sauce lurking under, among or on top of the eggs, so not sure what the restaurant is trying to do with this menu item. It is not unattractively presented but, call it Puro Pan Eggs or something else, por favor.

Service was extremely nice and attentive. The room itself is dark, with low lighting which is fine for mornings when the Critic is less than presentable and doesn’t want to be in the harsh glare of the lights. Air conditioning was minimal and the place was cool but on the edge of a little warm, if you know how that feels.

After breakfast there, Better Half suggested checking out another new spot called Merci.

Merci – HomeMade Food

photo 3 photo 1

Merci is located in the San Angelo shopping (more luxury of course) plaza, which is near the soon-to-be-finished San Angelo condos, yet another housing development in northern Merida defining itself as – yawn – exclusive, and located parallel to the periferico in the area between City Center and Sodzil.

It is a bright, airy restaurant with a decidedly French feel, not only because the waiter is indeed French but also because the Yucatecan chef studied in France and has come home to feed her fellow Meridanos. By this time, the Critic didn’t mind the bright airiness of the place and was delighted to see French Press coffee on the menu.

Indeed, the freshly pressed coffee is very tasty and served with tiny ceramic cups that are too cute. A bread basket was ordered and it contains what appears to be a scone, a pain au chocolat and a little muffin. Served with tiny bowls of butter and jam and all very good. The pain au chocolat is not flaky and light, but heavier, denser and delicious. Very buttery.

The kitchen is in plain view, the tables are close together European style and the overall impression is that this is a place worth re-visiting, to try some of the other breakfast offerings which range from homemade banana pancakes and oeufs any style to granola and more. Prices seem very reasonable and the air conditioning is perfect.

Final verdict for breakfast? Merci, hands down. The Critic will be back.

Luigis for Breakfast

A friend whom the Critic shall call Lincoln told him about this place where he goes for breakfast regularly; a breakfast that is tasty, hot and most importantly (the Critic suspects this to be the case) cheap.

It’s called Luigi’s but before you get all excited, the place is about as Italian as a Ticul-made pump. There is a fellow there by the name of Luigi, but he is Yucatecan and his place somehow lacks the glamor of, say, a Milan eatery. In fact, this place is a hole in the wall practically on the corner of 56 and 43 streets, identifiable by the official Coca Cola colors and hand-written menus on construction paper taped unceremoniously to the walls.

The tables and chairs are also Coca Cola, but the ambience, such as it is, is very neighborly and friendly with everyone commenting ‘buenos dias’ and ‘provecho’ as they pass your table. There are some food pictures below, the first is of ‘huevos a la Mexicana’ and the second of the giant bread basket. The accompanying refried beans are terrific and there is no coffee, just Coca Cola.

Total for two people having full egg breakfast? 58 pesos, or about 5 dollars. Can’t beat that.

Coffee Cup Café – Boulder City, Nevada, USA

Just a quick update to let all Casual Restaurant Critic fans that the Coffee Cup Cafe (reviewed previously here) is alive and well, a touch of real food and ambiance just outside (a comfortable 15-20 minutes drive) of glitzy Las Vegas.

On this occasion the Critic had the Salsa Verde Pork omelet, a house special which was, as usual, far too much to eat for one person. Coffee could have been a little better, but all in all, it’s still a charmer, as is the little town of Boulder City itself.

Afterwards, visit the Hoover Dam or gamble at the Hacienda casino on the way, where you can play the roulette table for hours on 2o dollars.

Remixto Sunday Brunch

The Casual Restaurant Critic had the luck to be advised of this once a month brunch event to be held at Casa Mexilio, in downtown Merida put on by remixto.com and hosted by the intrepid MexiChica and her hubbie.

Let it be said that to start a Sunday morning in a jungle patio with an exquisite Bloody Mary or a Guayaba mimosa is a hell of a great way to wake up in Merida, even with the 40-plus degree heat that is currently plaguing the formerly white city.

Highlights, after the Bloody Mary, were the Eggs Benedict, cooked to perfection and prepared not with ham but with a sabroso hunk of roast pork aka lechon, accompanied by a grilled tomato and some greenery. The french toast, made with rompope and served with a caramelized bacon and soft, mushy-sweet cooked bananas was delicious. So good were these two dishes that the Critic actually ordered both (and ate both, thank you very much). Federico Navarro’s coffee was strong, hot and fresh, silverware was sparkling new and the whole affair was like having brunch at someone’s home; someone who transforms fresh, local ingredients into marvelous mouthfuls in their kitchen and invites you over to sample them.