Tag Archives: breakfast

Happy 2022 – The Casual Restaurant Critic Mini-Reviews

The Critic has been getting out and about, eating here and there but not finding the inspiration or time to write about it. Please add your comments and finger-wagging at the bottom of this post, he would love to hear from you.

As a reward for your feedback, here are a few little takes on some recent culinary outings, complete with a photo or two.

Kinich – Izamal

Always amazing and one of the Critic’s favorites for Yucatecan food. A sure-fire go-to (so many hyphenated words) when you have company from out of town. Great people, great food, and kudos to owner Miriam for hiring mostly female serving staff – a refreshing change in a traditionally male-dominated industry. A solid operation overall.

Habaneros

This unassuming restaurant near the convention center Siglo XXI is extremely popular with locals and visitors who come for the excellent breakfasts that are full of flavor and reasonably priced. They have the added attraction of hand-made tortillas and salsas made to order just for you.

Hennesseys

The Critic hadn’t been here in a while and so was delighted to enjoy a superb curry and guests enjoyed a steak. Service was friendly, Sean was gracious and the beer was excellent.

Zinc

After attending the restaurant’s inauguration, the Critic hadn’t been back to Zinc either and having visitors over Christmas opened up all kinds of not so regular restaurant outings. The food here is much better than you would expect and the service courteous and prompt. The location across from the Museo de Antropologia or Casa Canton or whatever it is this month, is fabulous as you can sit outside and not worry about stray omicron droplets.

Pueblo Pibil

Another favorite and among the top two for Yucatecan cuisine in and around Merida. If you go, go around 1 PM when the food comes out of the pib in back. Their house cocktails are showy and delicious. Try the Xibalba, a study in black. And do say hi to chef Silvio or his daughter chef Silvia.

Ramiro Cocina

This is the latest restaurant visited by the Critic, based on a recommendation from the fine folks at Yucatan Today. It’s so good, it deserves its own review, coming later.

La Libertad

Breakfast in two locations in the city – check their Facebook for locations and times and such. Great decor and feel to this place, if their service can occasionally be a little disjointed. They are busy, so they have an excuse but also they have been open for a while now and have two locations so some of these issues should be superados by now.

Flamante Burger

The Critic had heard about this place and it wasn’t until just very recently that he had a chance to try the burgers they are known for. Fabulous flavor, great presentation and some delicious camote fries/chips as well. Thanks to Romina for great service and definitely another visit or seven is forthcoming to try all the burgers on the menu.

La Quinta de Elena Roldán

This place, just opened and had to be checked out. When the Critic asked what the menu was he was told:

“Son mariscos”

“Ok, ¿cómo los preparan? Tipo Yucatan o Pacifico?”

“Tipo Holbox”

The Critic went with the always gracious and lovely Better Half. The best part of the experience was the live music which was a conjunto of cubanos playing Cuban music in an unamplified setting. So refreshing and they were very good. The food was OK at best -they’re famous for their pizzas apparently – and the best part of the meal was the complimentary shrimp broth (hot) that was served. Service on this occasion was slow, however they were extremely busy (over the Christmas holidays) with extra-large groups seated at tables for up to 16-18 people at a time. Looking around, the people all seemed to be NOT from the Yucatan. A different-looking crowd. Maybe they all came over from Holbox. Who knows.

Another attempt will be made to further check out their menu.

Casual Restaurant Critic at Sabor a Mango

A good location and a good sign – even if it is blocked by that large SUV with CDMX plates parked on the corner where the yellow curb means no parking, but some folks are special

In the nearby town and soon-to-be suburb of Merida of Cholul, there is some new investment happening. Along with the fancy new shopping area on the corner of the square, there are some new eateries as well. Today the Better Half and the Critic had breakfast at Sabor a Mango, one of these new restaurants with a huge outdoor garden area and an interesting and delicious-looking menu.

Perhaps it was because it was Sunday and because the place was packed, that exactly four servers ran directly in front of the Critic and his Better Half with not even a glance let alone a greeting. They were extremely focused on the paper in their hands or their destination as they hurried by. It took a moment for someone from way back in the restaurant to notice and send a staff member to say hello, perform pandemic protocols and assign a table.

Sabor a Mango has the perfect pandemic environment, under large shady trees and with plenty of fresh air, inviting one to remove one’s mask without nary a thought of a stray Covidian droplet making its way up one’s nose. Speaking of masks, just about all of the staff was fully and properly masked with one exception holding out to sport the ever-popular under-the-nose method which has proven so effective in deterring absolutely nothing.

Once the order was in, the food did not take as long as expected to arrive at the table and when it did, it proved worth the short wait. The cheddar cheese with bacon grilled brioche sandwich was amazing, as were the fries. Crispy and thin, they are the kind of fries you can eat for hours and never get tired of. Their take on guacamole is delightful; a perfect combination of creamy avocado, chewy and crunchy pork with the surprising pop of sweet, yellow kernels of corn. Better Half’s eggy enchilada was reportedly scrumptious.

In general, there might have been a little less salt than the Critic normally enjoys but that is a personal preference and at the end of the day, it is much healthier to include less salt in one’s diet. So thank you Sabor a Mango for that!

For drinks, a rather sour and chunky jugo verde and Better Half’s tea could have benefitted from more heat.

Would the Critic consider going back? Definitely. There is a lot more on that menu that beckons for another visit!

The amazing guacamole, with all the goodies
Those addictive fries and there is chorizo and bacon peeping out from between the brioche grilled cheese sandwich

The Casual Restaurant Critic: Brekkie at La Libertad

Venturing ever-further out with the pandemic still ongoing, Better Half and the Critic recently visited the relatively new breakfast spot La Libertad, located in Temozon Norte, a suburb of Merida outside the periférico and just beyond La Isla shopping mega-complex.

Not quite open, the restaurant sets up chairs outside for people to wait in a safe and socially distanced way. Once inside and the obligatory gel squirts and temperature pistol to the head protocols complied with, the Critic and BH were seated. Breakfast items were varied and plentiful, from an açai bowl to chilaquiles to real sourdough bread sandwiches.

What makes the place more special is that there are trees everywhere, even in the parking lot outside; there is a distinct Tulum-ish vibe going on which you will feel when you go.

The food was delicious and the service charming and friendly. Definitely, a return is in the cards, as there is much to try and the ambience is very appealing. Terrace and inside dining available.

You can see more about La Libertad on their Facebook page and even make reservations directly.

A Re-Visit to Merci

Merci on a Sunday is guaranteed to feature a wait and sure enough, when the Critic and his Better Half arrived this past Sunday to have breakfast, several people were parked on the bench outside the door. Dalia – next door and on the Critics list based on Better Half’s recommendation – was the backup plan and it was evident that tables were available there.

Nevertheless, a table for two was not a problem and Critic and Better were seated upon arrival. Brunch is available on Sundays from 8:30 to 4:00 and features breakfast items as well as more lunch-y options.

The Critic opted for chilaquiles, served up here with a sunny-side-up egg, a longaniza tomato sauce, avocado, some cheese, and fresh radish garnish. And a smattering of shredded chicken to round out the caloric intake. Better Half ordered what appears to be a sort of Croque sandwich which, she assured the Critic, was delicious. Coffee (latté) was great, as was the almond and pepita croissant and home-made papaya jam.

Recommended? You bet.

Two café lattés and the day’s agua de naranja con mango

Le croissant

L’autre pain whose name the Critic cannot recall. But it was flaky and deliciously warm and with some butter… yum

The chilaquiles rojos

Le sandwich d’oeuf

Casual Restaurant Critic at Pan & Kof.fee

OK thanks very much – the anticipation of going to Paris and sitting in a sidewalk cafe, munching on fresh baguettes with butter is now a thing of the past. It appears that the folks at Pan & Kof.fee are trying to discourage travel to France with their most amazing baguettes, croissants, and pain au chocolat.

The Critic has not tried bread this good since discovering Monique’s sourdough and Petite Delice’s pastries, so whenever you are downtown, do stock up. Recommended are the baguettes and the ciabatta as the loaf had too much air in it and the butter and jam went directly through the holes in the bread and onto my plate.

The restaurant – it is a restaurant as well – is drop-dead gorgeous and you can see the bakers in action with their ovens on the second floor, which is clever. Staff are beyond friendly and completely bilingual, at least the ones that looked after the Critic and his Better Half.

Located on 43 at 58 more or less behind the Palacio Canton museum or whatever it is this week.

Marmalade Barra de Cocina Norte – It’s Open!

photo of the locale Marmalade Barra de Cocina Norte

Discretely tucked away in the corner of the Bon Ami Plaza (yes that’s really its name)

Tucked away in a corner where the Pho restaurant used to be, surrounded by defunct storefronts in a small commercial plaza on a congested avenue that has the most ridiculous amount of little L shaped shopping centers in Merida, Marmalade is a welcome addition to the area and, judging by the quality of the food and service, guaranteed to remain for some time. This is refreshing since there are so many people that have more money than business sense who are throwing their money into any and all kinds of businesses doomed to fail because they really have no idea of what the hell they are doing.

Location at the bottom of this article!

But I digress. Marmalade is not one of these.

Having visited the location on 47 on two occasions, the Critic decided that Better Half needed to experience the food and service that Dawn and Stephanie are throwing out there. And what an experience it was. Three delicious breakfast items ordered and eaten with gusto, and fragrant baked goods for the ride home (LOL) along with the kindness and attention of the hosts, make this restaurant the new favorite breakfast spot in this part of town.

Each plate and food item is a work of art, the plating/presentation beautiful. Everything tastes spectacularly good and everyone who works here seems to be happy to be there looking after guests.

The Critic had used up all his jam on the toast that came with the breakfast but there was a slice left. Dawn generously brought over another kind of jam just to be able to put something on that last piece of toast. It was a home-made pineapple and serrano jam. Truly amazing!

The Casual Restaurant Critic (and the Better Half) cannot recommend this place highly enough. A perfect spot for a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast – this is Marmalade Barra de Cocina!

flowers, table setting, restaurant, Marmalade, Merida

Fresh flowers on every table

desayuno

Marmalade Breakfast – eggs, bacon, toast, homemade jam and hash browns too

Home-cured lox

wafles, fresas, crema batida, light, desayuno, Merida, Marmalade

Waffles with strawberries and whipped cream

Pineapple and serrano jam. Really

Location location location! There’s a map and everything!

https://www.facebook.com/marmaladenorte/

 

 

 

Chilaquiles for the Casual Restaurant Critic at Chill-Akil

Not having had any sustenance beyond the usual New York model breakfast of coffee and a cigarette, the by-now cantankerous Critic was driving to his pay-by-the-hour office at Alexandra’s when another luxurious plaza (not particularly luxurious, tbh) called Plaza Luxury – really, you can’t begin to fathom the local fascination with all things purportedly luxury – beckoned with its multiple culinary options ranging from the brand new Okana poke bar with its high-tech and line-up inducing iPad ordering system to the old-school Merida classic Siqueff to the restaurant the Critic finally ended up in: Chill Akil.

There’s the Lexus dealership, the Prada flagship store, and the Bugatti watch shop. And the Ya Abrimos store of course

Once the loud family discussing family relationships at the next table had departed, the famished  Critic was able to enjoy his classic chilaquiles rojos in relative peace and quiet while perusing CNN’s latest fake news on his iPhone.

These chilaquiles are really good, with lots of ‘stuff’ on top of those tortilla chips and they aren’t all soggy either, which is a nice touch. The red sauce is good, the chicken is good, the queso fresco is good, the onions and radishes are fresh and there are hot sauces and mild sauces (2 and 2) to add if you feel the dish lacks vim and vigor.

The restaurant is probably crowded in the morning with Moms and gym types who like to get up early, but the Critic had his breakfast at 2 PM thank you very much and had the place to himself. The A/C leaves something to be desired and it is uncomfortably warm in spite of the unit blowing all it can. Note: there are two air conditioners upstairs, but these were off.

Good service and plenty of parking available. You will also find a really nice high-end stereo shop in this plaza for your home theater installations in that new old colonial you are restoring.

Worth a second visit, ITCO.

Location: Plaza LUXURY (look for the Teslas, Ferraris and Jaguars parked outside) or just look at the map on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chillakil/

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.

IMG_3304 IMG_3303 IMG_3301 IMG_3308 IMG_3307

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