So, I’ve been to Brunswick and Common Grounds and wanted to give the recently opened (and much anticipated) Muchachas a try. As a former Angeleno, finding good Mexican is always on my radar (Zoe from Table No 7 tells me Fuego at Souq Al Bahar is worth a visit, which is probably where I should’ve gone for lunch).
While Google Maps still wants to believe Al Wasl exists in its previous form close to Safa Park, after a wrong(ish) turn or two, I found myself in front of the Holiday Inn Express. There is approximately zero parking available, so I took a turn around the building, failed to find parking in the first dirt lot, and committed to the second dirt lot (fairly convinced I was going to get stuck in the sand). For anyone with mobility or issues walking the heat…probably don’t park where I did (although I don’t know where you’re supposed to park). After walking through a construction site, I returned — victorious and sweaty — to the Holiday Inn Express. While the Tom&Serg location is bit unique, it still fits the vibe of the neighborhood. I’m not entirely certain what market research went into placing a Mexican restaurant in a difficult location/shabby hotel, but then again, I don’t work in that industry.
While bright and very California chic, the actual interior of the restaurant is somewhat smaller than I thought it would be. There is a creative ‘second level’ along with seating for various sizes of parties, and a bar. As the hostess was on the phone when I walked in, I went ahead and found a seat on my own (‘yes, just one’ — dining on your own is a thing people do, I assure you). With the exception of a small piece of paper with the lunch specials, there was no menu for ala carte options, until I was presented with a larger piece of paper with other options.
Ordering was…a challenge. I first asked if I would be able to order something for takeaway. Hubs was, of course, with me in spirit, and I wanted to make sure he would be able to sample some of the menu. Unfortunately, there were no takeaway boxes. I asked nicely again, and lo and behold, a takeaway box was procured. Of my notes, hey Management, go ahead and order a few boxes. So, I place my order…or, I think I do.
First out was the Pink and Sparkling Margarita. Points for presentation and nary a taste of tequila. It didn’t hit the mark for me (it wasn’t sweet enough, and the ‘sparkling’ element was decidedly lacking), so I think I would suggest ordering a classic margarita instead.
Next up was the (complimentary) chips and salsa. And by salsa, I mean the world’s smallest portion of salsa ever to be served in a restaurant (see the lead image for the very small bowls). Perhaps it is my American nature, but I think this best describes my take on chips and salsa:
With that established, I asked if they had any larger containers for salsa. They did not.
My appetizer was the Street style charred corn on the cob (AED37). Served in a way my 2-year-old nephew would be delighted by (yay Monty!), I was also quite happy. However, if I do some math, it appears that I paid $3.25 per half ear of corn. This fact makes me sad. While the taste was less ‘street’ and/or ‘charred,’ I didn’t mind the generous amount of sauce and cheese. Upon review, I feel that AED25 (for four) would be a much better price point.
As I waited, having eaten my three corn cobs and microscopic amounts of salsa, the waitress approached me and asked, “Did you order anything else?” To which I commented, “Yes.” She answered, “I forgot.” Oh, okay then. She put a rush on the Quesadillas de Camarones, which, upon arrival, was shaped quite differently to any quesadilla I’ve had the fortune of eating (or making). The taste wasn’t spectacular (a hit of lime and cilantro would’ve gone a long way here), and I couldn’t get over the definition of the ‘quesadilla.’ Points for presentation, but I would’ve preferred a traditional serving with far brighter notes of produce (onion! mango! garlic! anything!).
As I was finishing my ‘quesadilla,’ I began looking for my aforementioned and agreed to go box for Hubs, when I received this:
A single taco. Not from the lunch menu (at least I think not). Not for takeaway. Just…a sad beef taco. So, back the conversation went to inquire: the lunch menu contains two soft tacos and a salad, correct? Yes. And that’s what I ordered, right? Oh… Cue another rush from the kitchen. Once at home, I realized the taco was lacking cheese of any kind and in desperate need of a Pico de gallo (or some form of tomato).
Guys, I’m forgiving. To a point. But there are limits on what is acceptable service and value for money. I’ve had better service at fast food places and far more competent situations with my regular takeaway teams.
All in (with one drink, one soda, one lunch special, an appetizer and a “quesadilla”) the cost was AED223, which made me sad (again). Even if you remove the cost of the lunch special, at AED155 you could have a delightful lunch at either Laluz or Coya.