Monday, July 22, 2013

Restaurant Review: El Carnicero

Viva The Lakewood Restaurant Scene!

El Carnicero has just opened this past week in Lakewood.  Run by the same chef as Momocho I was eager to try it out so when a friend suggested our girls night out take place there I was on board.

My ladies and I went this past Saturday.  Arriving at 7:30 we were told there would be an hour and a half wait for our group of five.  As we put our name in a hostess offered us a slightly unconventional solution.  Due to demand they had opened up their private party room that had a large table for twelve that already had a party of four seated at one end.  The hostess explained we could have the opposite end of the table with no wait if we didn't mind sharing.  Sounded just fine to us so we were seated immediately and honestly didn't even notice the other people as there were a couple of seats open separating us.

I will say that the service in that room was a  tad on the slow side, we had to wait quite a bit to order but I'm willing to chalk that up to them not being used to having an extra table back there.

In our group we ordered classic, pomegranate, blood orange, and cucumber margaritas as well as a glass of red sangria.  The sangria wasn't on the menu but our waiter checked at the bar and they did have white and red sangria.  I personally had the pomegranate which is my go to at Momocho and it was just as good here.  I tasted the blood orange and it was tasty but had a little less of the orange flavor than expected. I'd never been brave enough to try the cucumber before but I tasted my friend's and it was really refreshing and I'd consider ordering the next time I was a less sweet option.

To start we ordered guacamole and their red salsa.  The guac is perfection.  I will likely go back just for Margaritas and guacamole.  I love smooth guac with chunks of fresh ingredients and that's exactly what this was.  It wasn't so mild that there wasn't any extra flavor but there was enough to add just a touch of kick that made it extremely enjoyable! The salsa was good but wasn't exactly what I enjoy in a salsa.  It had a bit too much smoke and sweetness to me, though I'm very sensitive to those and everyone else didn't mind.  We also thought it reminded us of the flavor of Doritos.  Random, I know.

For dinner we each ordered either Tamales or Taquitos.

I ordered El Cordero Taquitos which is their lamb option.
As you can see it came as shredded meat with two sauces on the side.  The tortillas that came with it were off to the side and were perfectly warm and soft.  I did have to ask about dairy and the waiter told me that the onions/vegetables that come under the meat for their taquitos are made in cream so he told me he'd have them made without.  Though now that I'm writing this I don't recall any vegetables with mine.

This was a delicious dish.  The lamb was super tender, juicy, and seasoned just right.  It was slightly reminiscent of our family's Christmas Eve dinner where we serve lamb but soooo much better.  I prefer the green sauce that accompanies it.

One of the other girls ordered the Pavo- Roasted Turkey taquitos with a mole sauce.  When her order came out the first comment was "it smells like Thanksgiving."  I tasted it and I thought it was just O.K though I admittedly am not a huge fan of mole.  She also ordered a side of refried beans and couldn't eat them because they were quite spicy.  I tasted them, just a tiny bite, and my mouth was on fire.  I thought they were good but should be marked with a warning on the menu or the waiters/waitresses should tell you before you order.

The girl who ordered the Bistec taquitos, or steak really enjoyed her meal.  Hers came out with chunks of steak cooked to order.  She commented that the way the meat is cut makes it difficult to eat in the tortillas.  I've had this before and concur, however she had the same thought I've had in the past and just ate the meat because who needs a tortilla when the meat is perfect?

Lastly, my friend ordered the Hongo tamales.  This was a vegetarian option that had wild mushroom and zucchini in it.  The vegetables were placed on top of the corn husks filled with masa.  This was by far the prettiest presentation of the night.
Excuse the phone pic and cruddy lighting, but I loved how the corn husks stood up  for dimension and the contrast of the white sour cream over top.  She seemed to enjoy her meal but I got the feeling she wouldn't rush to order the same option again.

In short I really enjoyed my visit.  When my bank account recovers enough I'll go again and try some other options.  (We each got a meal 2 drinks and then the extra beans we got and we split the tab to about $40 or so dollars each with tip but I am currently trying to save some money so I shouldn't spend like that too frequently!)

El Carnicero on Urbanspoon

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