Monthly Archives: October 2008

that missing movie on the previous post…

Now that the musical-loving Better Half is back home, I accompanied her to see the one movie I didn’t see during my marathon movie week, Mamma Mia.

Meryl Streep is great as usual, the rest of the cast is alright in a campy, overacted kind of way, the storyline is corny but the scenery is great.

And they all sing, even Pierce Brosnan. Ugh.

What can I say, I don’t care for musicals. I prefer my acting straight, without the bursting into song. I distinctly remember watching Evita with Antonio Banderas and suffering every song-filled moment.

And with that, I hereby bring to a close the movie marathon week postings!

Laredo’s – Mérida Restaurant featuring Northern Mexican Fare

Today the Critic was invited for lunch at Laredo’s, a popular Northern Mexican restaurant located on Montejo. The Critic recalled that Laredo’s had – on a visit some million years ago – some excellent steaks, particularly their ‘corazon de filete‘ which was very tender and delicious.

Unfortunately, the restaurant seems to have aged rather ungracefully; from the moment you arrive and fight with the double doors (and no one is there to greet you, let alone help you get in the damn place) you are under the impression that things are not all that well in Laredo-Land.

The parrillada, a large metal plate of assorted meats (you can choose the combination you would like) served on a small portable barbecue-like anafre, arrives at your table, along with a plate of garnishes including a half-full (ever the optimist, the Critic) bowl of luke-warm and bland frijoles charros (cowboy beans), a grilled onion, a withered half-potato featuring a minimum of cream and bacon garnish and some salad greens.

The meats were not at all great, considering this is a meat restaurant and the Critic suspects that anyone from El Norte would scoff at the notion of this being typical food from northern Mexico. One of the cuts was chewy and full of gristle, the machitos were rather non-macho bland and the arrachera, while tender, was completely devoid of any flavor.

The service was unprofessional and plates were banged and crashed as they reached each diner.

The Critic could not recommend the restaurant for any reason, really, especially considering all the excellent Argentinian meat options out there now in Merida.

One to Five? One. Don’t go. Waste of money, calories and time.

La Nao de China – Formerly Hong Kong (Merida Chinese Restaurant)

Today the Casual Restaurant Critic, with all the related Critics (Midi, Mini and Better Half) away, decided on having a Chinese lunch at the Nao de China restaurant, formerly known as Hong Kong. The Critic had been wanting to go back after a long absence, but somehow it never happened. Until today.

The draw at this place is the lunch buffet, which at present runs at $82 pesos and includes a soft drink.

Besides the restaurant being a lot larger – the patio in back is now covered and air conditioned and the buffet has been moved from the entrance area to the newer part – the place is basically the same as always.

The food on the buffet steam table is still exactly the same as 5 years ago or so when the Critic was last there. The same stuff! There are spring rolls, fried chicken wings, roasted chicken, a curry dish, a chop suey, some pieces of sushi, the gelatin desserts and a watery soup. Once they were novel and tasty; now they are all really quite horrendous and completely forgettable, bordering on the inedible.

First of all, nothing tastes even remotely fresh. The spring rolls used to be flaky and crunchy, now they are thick and crunchy and rather bland. The chicken wings are lukje warm, not at all crispy; more like chewy and feel as if they have been there for a day or so. The curry and chop suey dishes are warmer, but as bland as eating a paper placemat. The roast chicken was as dry as one of those steer skulls in the desert and needed water to force it down. The gelatinous selection of desserts was not tried, neither was the soup or the plain, unappetizing looking “sushi”.

A complete bust. Even if they charged $25 pesos for this unappealing and extremely limited selection, the Critic would not return.

The Critic was so disgusted that he couldn’t manage another trip to the buffet. A menu was asked for and Chi Maa chicken ordered. The Critic remember that this was always good before, and he wasn’t disappointed when it arrived at the table. Crispy deep fried chunks of batter stuffed with chicken and drizzled with honey and topped with chopped green onions. A huge portion, hot and tasty and served with steamed rice. Much better!

The service was fair, the hostess completely indifferent as was the person in charge of the buffet. They could care less if you were there or not.

Critic’s recommendation? If you have to go, choose the menu over the buffet and watch the people stare enviously as you eat well while they suffer through the tasteless crap from the buffet. Hey it’s their own fault for being so damn cheap.

Total bill was 114 pesos ($82 for the buffet and the rest for the Pollo Chi Maa). Refresco included with the price of the buffet (Pepsi products only, no Coke; even the uniforms have Pepsi embroidered on them).

You are better off at Win Fa or one of the other new Chinese places sprouting up all over Merida as the Oriental Invasion finally comes to the Yucatan.

One to five? This place rates a “don’t bother” – 2.

Reader Contribution – by Jean

Casual Restaurant Critic’s comment: please note: the author’s first language is Dutch, before you start with your comments on any deficiencies in the writers’ English. Would that you could speak and write in Dutch as well as he can write in English

A nice evening out in Chuburna. Or how the para llevar was born.

What else can you do, after a long day of teaching a foreign language to kids who not even master their own native language (what’s wrong with the education here, they don’t even know what a demonstrative pronoun is in Spanish…..), than to take your lovely wife around 9 in the evening for a nice little comida, just the two of you….

She ordered a salad, because she wants to stay at the safe side of obesity, and I ordered the usual 4 arrachera taco’s de harina, because I didn’t fought myself to the top of the food chain to eat grass…

Within 7 min after ordering, the 4 taco’s are staring at me and we wait a few minutes for the salad… After all, we are ‘out’ to have a nice comida togetherright ?.

When after another 5 minutes or so none of the 4 or 6 locals who are running around with empty hands (or taking plates away from customers who are still chewing the last bite) is willing to bring the salad, my wife urge me to start eating ‘before it’s cold’.

And because it’s not a good idea to argue with a person where you intend to spend the night with, I start, very slow, to move the arrachera taco’s from my plastic plate to my internal system.

After another 5 minutes or so, the 4 or 6 locals are still running around with empty hands, I start thinking about this system to stay in shape.

Go to a local restaurant, order food, wait a given amount of time, leave the place…..

Easy, you don’t have to say to people you’re on a diet, you still can say you visit reataurants…they don’t bring the food you ordered anyway…..

I’m at taco number 3, still no salad…still locals running.

My wife managed to capture the attention of one of the runners, who listen carefully, looked at me, my nearly empty plate, magically displays a disbelieve look, turns around and jogs to the innerside of the building, returns after nearly 30 seconds (see, they can be quick) and tells my wife a story.

My Spanish is reaching the level where only I understand it (one have to start somewhere), so the translation is: they working on it.

Duh, more than an half hour to prepare a salad ? Do they have a local schmuck driving a 125 cc motorcycle to the nearby village to get the grass so the salad is fresh ?

Meanwhile, taco nr 4 is moved from plate to internal system, beer was taking the same way and salad is still underway…

Finally, after nearly 45 minutes….tataaa…there’s the salad.

The purpose of this evening out is to be together, to eat together, to drink together…

The food has to reach the table so the people, a couple, can eat together…how difficult is that ?

So when the designated runner is putting the salad in front of my wife, she takes revenge ( it is a plate one have to eat or serve cold, and the salad is cold so this is a perfect opportunity), and ordered the salad para llevar and I ordered la cuenta.

Mind you, within 3 minutes we have a nice plastic bag with the salad and a plate with the cuenta. They can be quick after all and they just showed to the world that two things can come together at one and the same table….

From now on we do not go to Los Tacquitos P.M. on Calle 50…we go to the para llevar….