Monday, June 23, 2008

Is this Mexican Meal worth $50?

Maria Maria

Maria Maria in Mill Valley FINALLY opened. I visited when I saw some life there, and came back 5 times at the appointed 'opening' time, until finally, on Saturday night, we struck the jackpot! Keep in mind that this is its first week in business, so they are still working out the rhythm. This being said, this was our experience.


After a 15 minute wait for seating (everyone wants to try the new place), we were seated. And menus were brought out promptly, as was a complimentary bowl of chips with three original salsas. The chips and salsas were great. The interior has been completely transformed from the former "The Cantina". It was dim and crowded, with live music competing with a very loud dining crowd. There were an unusual number of toddlers running wild in the halls and generally making noise as well as the usual chatter. If the seating wasn't so cramped, the kids were behaving and the noise level settled a bit, it could be a romantic atmosphere.

Chicken Enchiladas "Suizas"

The waitress took our order, and took a very long time bringing our iced tea. We never saw her again until the end of the meal when I requested a check as she was passing by. In fact after an hour of being seated, we still had not been served our food, and Dad flagged a passing server. When I told him how long we'd been waiting, he immediately took action, and we had our meals in the promised 3 minutes later. Dad had the Chicken Enchiladas "Suizas" ($15). He loved every bite, and the chunky pieces of breast meat I saw as he tucked into it looked very high quality.

Maria's Chile Relleno

I was excited to try an innovative sounding vegetarian Maria's Chile Relleno ($16). This dish consisted of ancho chiles stuffed with roasted zucchini, red onions and potatoes served over melted cheese and roasted tomato chipotle sauce topped with crispy sweet potatoes and zucchini. Unfortunately it was rather burnt, the underside of the cheese as well as the ancho chiles. For my personal taste, there was some spice that seemed over done in this and overpowered the flavors. I tried to identify it. Perhaps the chipotle sauce, but I'm not familiar enough to be sure of it. I've had chipotle sauce and liked it before. The crispy bits on the top were not easy to identify as sweet potato and zucchini, could have been regular French fried onions for the non-existent distinguishing flavor.

Rice & Beans

It surprised me that rice and beans were not included in meals at a Mexican restaurant. Rice and Beans are separate side dishes - Black beans with Orzo ($2) and Guajillo Rice ($2). I was told these come in separate bowls, and would be large enough to be shareable. So I ordered one of each. The above is the two side orders of rice and beans ($4) which didn't seem like a portion for two (I thought these would each come in a separate bowl). These were ok, but nothing to write home about. The meals did come with a choice of corn or flour tortillas, and the flour ones were hot and fine.

The waitress came back when I wanted the check, and she asked if she could box my Chile Relleno, and I replied, no, it's burnt. She replied by asking if I'd liked it!? I said, no, it was burnt. I pointed out that my Dad loved his, cleaning his plate completely. With no words of regret for my food issue, she took my credit card and came back with the check. Including the tip, the tab for all the above came to $50 and change. Hmmm... I do hope the management gets the wrinkles out of the food and service as it would be great to have a good Mexican restaurant around the corner from my place again. I'll be back in a few months to see, and give it another chance.

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