What’s your favorite ice cream place in Merida?
Here’s the Casual Restaurant Critic’s – their Pay de Limon is most amazing!
What’s your favorite ice cream place in Merida?
Here’s the Casual Restaurant Critic’s – their Pay de Limon is most amazing!
In a short span of two days, I had three memorable customer service experiences which I think are typical of Merida, a city not known for its outstanding customer service whether it’s retail or restaurant. Perhaps some of you have had similar experiences? Read on.
The Dry Cleaners
Pre-wedding (not mine, one I had been invited to) and I had some shirts to clean so I stopped at a previously unknown-to-me dry cleaning operation at the Uptown shopping mall. I stopped there because I rarely if ever visit the dry cleaners and so my criteria for selecting one is if I see it on the side of the road or not. This one was there, with a parking spot to boot, so I stopped.
In I went, holding my two items of clothing and standing behind a woman who was in the process of leaving her clothing. No one looked up or acknowledged my presence in any way. The space was small, so the young woman behind the counter knew I was there, I was sure, and the other lady who was wandering around behind the counter unsmilingly definitely looked my way at some point before quickly looking away without so much as a growl.
I was there for a while, while the counter lady and the customer lady negotiated what was cleanable and what was not. I was growing increasingly impatient as one does when one is ignored, but finally, after what seemed like a Pleistocene length of time, customer lady departed leaving me face to face with counter lady. She looked up and then at my shirts.
“Digame?” she asked, finally acknowledging my presence.
¿Digame? What is she? A Venezuelan phone operator?
I asked her if she had any idea of what it felt like to be invisible. Her response came in the form of a bovine stare and silence.
“It would have been nice if at least you had said hello when I came in” I remarked.
“Es que estaba atendiendo a la señora”
Of course, I hadn’t noticed. Silly me. And imagine the effort and coordination it would have taken to continue attending one client and saying hello to another! I ask too much. There wasn’t much more to say so I left my shirts, took my receipt and left.
Thank you, Tintorerias MAX. Never again. Well, one more time, to pick up the shirts.
The Camera Store
It had been almost a week since I left my Canon camera to be repaired and maintained. When I went to pick it up, the person behind the counter informed me that unfortunately, it was not ready.
I was more than a little mortified since it was my daughter’s wedding and I kind of needed to have the camera that night, but I held it together as best I could.
“Is there nothing that can be done? I had hoped it would be ready for tonight. It’s my daughters wedding you see.”
“Déjame hacer una llamada” the employee said and went into the back room.
Although I have been coming to this place for many, many years now and know the owner quite well. I could understand that things were what they were and if it wasn’t ready, it wasn’t ready.
“Le vamos a prestar una cámara” I was told when the employee emerged, smiling, from the back room.
Once I picked up my jaw from the floor, I thanked her profusely and signed the receipt for 20,000 pesos of camera that they were lending me in order for me to be able to take photos at my daughters wedding. Who does that anymore? I was impressed, big time.
You have my business for life, Victor and Digicentro.
Home Depot Stop
I have 10 minutes to run in and buy a faucet, a simple garden-type faucet, as there is one at the house which is not closing properly and so, water is running all the time, which means the pump comes on all the time… but I digress.
I rush in, only to find that the aisle that has the faucets is closed, as a forklift is working in the next aisle over. There is an employee standing next to that little fence they put up.
“Can I just rush in and get this faucet?” I ask, showing him the one I had brought from home.
“No, porque están trabajando al lado” replies the employee.
I point to another customer, in that very same aisle, looking for something.
“What about him – does he have magic powers or something?”
“No, de hecho le estamos esperando para trabajar.”
OK, while you work/wait could you perhaps pop in and get me one of these? You know where they are, it’ll only take a minute.
He does. Comes back with several models.
“Tengo este que es cromado pero es de medio, el suyo es de tres cuartos. Tiene que comprar un adaptador. Y tenemos este otro de tres cuartos que no necesita nada.”
I don’t like the 3/4 inch one because it looks like a gas valve shutoff thing. OK. I am ready to buy the adaptor and the half-inch version, in chrome.
Miraculously, the forklift stops working in the next aisle and I am able to enter this one to peruse the faucet offerings. I quickly find exactly what I am looking for and am in the cashier line-up, not before showing the employee what it was I had been looking for. He shrugged and said “Oh” and that was that.
Home Depot, no worries and as the Terminator said, I’ll be back.
What the Hell is That?
Explaining some of those mysterious things lurking in that fridge.
If you are traveling in the Yucatan, and stopping here and there, especially in the smaller towns and villages along your route, you will perhaps see unusual things (along with the usual assortment of commercial brand soft drinks) in the corner store refrigerator that you might not have at your Seven Eleven back home. Here is an example (photo) of such a fridge and a brief explanation of what it is you are looking at, top left to bottom right.
There are other things in the fridge as well. In this case, as it was a taqueria, there was a giant tub of raw meat on the floor of the fridge. Do not be put off by such apparent disparate refrigerator ingredients and be thankful that you don’t live in a land where nanny-state laws prohibit such practical solutions to every-day restaurant problems.
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!
Location location location! There’s a map and everything!
Late Seafood Lunch /Early Dinner in Progreso Part I
Better Half and the Critic were in the mood for fish and since a new restaurant had been announced, it was decided that they should go and try it out.
Almadia is a beautiful beach-front restaurant that looks like something from an architectural magazine, a stunning new addition to the restaurant scene at least in looks. For one thing, it sits diagonally on the malecon, just a few houses from the famous Casa del Pastel, and not aligned with the street out front, which sets it apart immediately from all its competitors, as do its modern columns and glass.
If only they had spent the tiniest fraction of what that architect charged on training staff! BH and CC went in, met no one at the door, had several wait staff pass right in front without so much as an hola and finally a hostess appeared in 4-inch heels and showed the Critic to a table. There, the Critic and Better Half sat and sat for the longest time, waiting for someone – anyone – to return to the table to offer a drink, at least. The hostess returned to her duties of doing Something Important on a clipboard with one or more of the staff members in another part of the restaurant.
Still hungry and bemoaning the tremendous waste it was to spend this much money and effort in creating a new restaurant and then not have anyone trained to run it, the Critic decided that enough is enough, and got up, took Better Half by the arm and left. There was no effort made by anyone to stop the Critic from leaving or even to say hasta luego.
Still, knowing the owners, there will be another attempt at this beautiful restaurant!
Late Seafood Lunch /Early Dinner in Progreso Part II
Crabster is, even when busy and everyone is running around like headless chickens, pretty much a guaranteed thing and after the disappointing experience down the street, the hustle and bustle of Christan Bravo’s seafront restaurant was a welcome sight.
Here, Better Half and the Critic enjoyed what they came for. A view of the beach, the smell of salt air and some good seafood washed down with some frosty micheladas. The awful street entertainment out front and the garbage trucks picking up trash from bins was a distraction, but not anything that Crabster could do something about.
Fresh guacamole, a deep fried grouper, some shrimp. Delicious. Gracias Christian!
Crabster in Progreso was reviewed previously in February of 2017 here.
The Casual Restaurant Critic recently had the opportunity to have dinner at the new Miyabi location on Prolongacion Montejo at 17 street, in the Colonia Mexico section of northern Merida. It is in a little shopping plaza called Plaza Arbolm named after the arbol (tree) that was incorporated in spectacular fashion into the design of the new Miyabi restaurant.
The sushi is as good as usual, nothing new to report there, and they are working out some kinks with the service due to the fact that waiters that want to work in a very busy environment are hard to come by, according to one of the owners.
The Critics only quibble would be the 3 point font used on the menu, which is impossible for most anyone to read, especially in the subdued lighting.
Kudos to the architectural firms who design the place (there were two) who decided to go against the time-honored local tradition of cutting down the tree that was obviously in the way. Maybe some other architects can learn from this, especially those charged with designing new residential developments.
The Critic recommends going if just to experience the amazing surroundings. And a little sashimi, why not.
On this site of the old penitentiary, in a park called the Park of Peace, there is a display of flowers happening that might be worth a visit if you are interested in flowers. The display has been presented in the form of an original design that incorporates Mayan cosmology and the personal vision of its creator, Martin Ramirez.
Martin and his wife Eugenia Morales, both agricultural engineers, started what was then a novel idea back in 1994: opening the city’s first exotic plant store in Merida’s first world-class mall, the Gran Plaza. Since then they have moved on to larger projects. This current project, one of only three in all of Mexico has been done in conjunction with the municipal government of Merida.
An interesting fact that should be considered when taking in this bounty of color: each plant had to be selected according to the time that the flowers would appear, in order to achieve all the colors at the same time, not an easy feat.
The exhibit opens at 9 AM and is a good morning activity, which can be combined with a posterior (or prior) visit to the nearby Santiago market for breakfast.
Some photos of my very recent visit to the Camino de las Flores:
The Critic and his Better Half bought tickets for several culinary events for this year’s version of Club Sibarita’s Festival Gastronomico 2019, the third such festival in Merida and now recognized nationally as an event worth attending. Chefs from all over Mexico (including Merida of course) and places further afield are in attendance, showcasing their talents with exquisite creations for attendees to swoon over.
Events at Pueblo Pibil in Tixcocob, Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca in Merida and the Hacienda Xcanatun were packed and the food was truly amazing. It made for some very late nights, and often the Critic and BH were home around 1 in the morning, full of great food and excellent wine courtesy of Casa Madero.
Enjoy some photos of the highlights of the events! First up: Pueblo Pibil, in Tixcocob for a leisurely and delectable lunch. Click on the photos to make them grow magically.
Next stop: Hacienda Xcanatun for the Fine Dining signature Sibarito event.
Lastly, Taste the Best at Altozano:
The powers that be have decided (link at the bottom of the page) that a drop in the price of your local bus ticket is warranted and starting February 16 the price will drop from 8 pesos to 7.50. This represents a huge saving of course for those using the buses, and those 50 centavos will be put to good use elsewhere in the family expense budget.
But wait. Have you ever seen a 50 centavo coin?
There are several versions of this cute coin from Mexico’s glorious past kicking around; little silver-colored things made of some worthless metal that range in size from tiny to microscopic. If you have ever tried, you know that picking one of them up off the ground or floor is a geriatric nightmare. Plus, who actually uses them anymore? Do you really think that when you pay your bus fare with a 10 peso coin you are going to get 2 pesos back AND that 50 centavos coin too? That bus driver, already overworked and underpaid for his 12-hour shift, is going to be very pleased to provide this extra service.
Maybe they will have a redondeo, OXXO-style, to benefit some charitable organization that exists only in the minds of its creator.
Enjoy the new bus fares, everyone!
Meanwhile, the Yucatan’s archeological sites are getting a makeover as new tariffs are introduced, doubling the current entry fee price for visitors. Expect huge and amazing changes as the sites are upgraded. Uxmal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, might even get phone service in 2019!
Just kidding. Of course, there will be no improvements forthcoming. All that money will go the way of the Elton John concert money, for which there was little to no accounting and whose destiny is a mystery still, years later.
Besides the huge increase to see the Mayan sites in the state of Yucatan (one of the few states in the country to charge people an additional entry fee along with the INAH ticket) the folks in the hallowed halls of government have also decided that since people don’t have anywhere else to park their cars, buses, and vans, it would be a grand idea to raise the price there as well.
Parking at one of the sites – and there are no other options for leaving your car anywhere nearby – has gone up by 167% from a symbolic 30 pesos to a whopping 80 pesos. And it’s not like it’s an incentive to use some sort of alternative transportation system to get to Uxmal or Chichen (or Ek Balam or Dzibilchaltun) because there is none.
Things are going swimmingly. Happy 2019!
Diez Diez is a new boutique hotel offering that is in the works just a block off Paseo de Montejo. The kickstart party to the construction which is underway as you read this was at the end of January. Some music, some drinks and some classy snacks from chef Roberto Solis (Nectar, Orori et al) made for an interesting evening, meeting the project founders, architects and promoters.
Should be interesting – stay tuned!