You’d Think the Addition of Tequila Could Make Up for a Lot

After my first dining experience at Rosario’s on Villa Place, I acknowledged that I had probably jumped the gun on my review and that they deserved a little more time to get their act together and their liquor license before I issued my final judgment. So I gave them three weeks before I returned with two of my friends to see if the combination of some additional staff training and the liberal application of alcohol might make the dining experience more pleasurable.

In a word…no. (Go ahead and pronounce that like you were saying it in Spanish.)

Our group of three approached the hostess stand and was asked if we would like to eat inside or outside. Since this was before the recent heat wave began to melt the asphalt on Edgehill, we requested an outside table. A manager-type stopped our server halfway to the door and yelled, “You can’t seat them out there! I already promised a table to a couple who is in the bathroom.” We felt like we needed to apologize, but a quick peek out the window led me to point out that there were indeed three empty tables outside.

The manager relented and allowed us to sit on the patio, but only after loudly admonishing our server that “We just can’t treat people that way.” Indeed.

Imagine my surprise when I looked over at the shiny happy table next to me and saw my fellow MetroBlogger Andrew enjoying a birthday fete. The fix was in. Rosario’s had been fully infiltrated for the evening. We agreed to independently evaluate our experiences and not to talk during the meal. (Which was fine anyway, because they looked like they were having fun and our group was kvetching about how hot it was and that the margaritas sucked. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Our server arrived at our table fairly quickly and attempted to take our drink orders. Two margaritas were quickly ordered, but when I asked if they had a top-shelf version so I could try something different, his train of thought became completely derailed. “Top shelf? What do you mean?”

I explained (to a freakin’ waiter in a MEXICAN RESTAURANT) that a top shelf margarita usually contained a higher quality of tequila than the Pep Lopez swill that regular margaritas are based upon and that it frequently had a float of Cointreau and/or Grand Marnier. As an aside, Red pepper in East Nashville makes a great top shelf margarita with Sprite and Orange juice to torque up the flavor.

Our server pulled a drink menu (finally) out of some recess of his pants and dropped it in front of me on the table. “We’ve got all sorts of really expensive tequilas if you want `em, but I think they’re for shootin’. If you want a margarita, I wouldn’t go messin’ with the good stuff.”

Friendly, yet unwanted advice. I ordered a glass of sangria, because what else ensures a good Thursday morning hangover better than red wine, brandy, sugar and fruit juice. When the margaritas arrived, we decided that I had made the right call.

It wasn’t the best sangria I’ve ever had and they weren’t the worst margaritas in Nashville, but nobody asked for seconds. The sangria was cloyingly sweet and the margaritas tasted somewhere between a straight shot of sweet and sour mix and a glass of yellow Gatorade with a splash of tequila. Neither was very refreshing, unfortunately.

For our meals, we ordered the drunken shrimp burrito, the chili relleno and the tofu burrito. Yeah, I’m the one who wanted to try the tofu. Somebody had to represent for Kate O’. Our server gave us the option of “wet or dry” with the burritos, with a further choice between red or green sauce. We opted to try both sauces on the side.

While we waited, and waited for our food we snacked on the $2.00 order of chips and salsa. Sam Davidson had raved about them and he seems like a pretty level-headed dude. Or maybe he’s just a lot more forgiving than we were. I’m hoping maybe we just we caught them in between fresh batches, but the chips were stale and tasted store-bought. The salsa seemed to just be a recently-opened can of stewed tomatoes with no other discernible flavoring added. Gerber’s baby food would make a better dip. Feh. They do not offer queso to make them any better.

But we remained optimistic for our entrees. After all, this is a restaurant I can walk to and I really wanted it top be good. My girlfriend is not the type you can cross too many times and get away with it however. How I’ve managed to keep her around this long is one of life’s great mysteries.

We should have known when the food arrived without the normal Mexican warning of “hot plate, hot plate, hot plate” that something might be amiss. On the whole we were disappointed again.

The chili relleno had very little spice in it at all. I expect a good chili relleno to fight back when I eat it, or at least to be swimming in so much grease that I feel a little guilty. This one tasted like a stuffed bell pepper from Luby’s Cafeteria. The drunken shrimp burrito was filled with a paucity of shrimp, and the ones that were present were the tiny cocktail king that you can buy by the bag in the freezer section of a grocery store. It was really more like some sort of Sea Monkey holocaust than a drunken shrimp party.

I have to admit that I liked my tofu burrito. I say I “have” to admit it, because it’s never a good thing when I enjoy my meal and the people I’m dining with don’t. See the above bit about my girlfriend…

The preparation of the tofu was well executed. Sometimes when I eat meat substitutes, I want them to mimic the meat they are replacing. Other times, the attempt can just get distracting as there is no way I’m going to believe that bbq wheat gluten will actually pass for pork.
In this case, the tofu made an excellent burrito filling especially in concert with the absolutely rocking red mole sauce that Rosario’s hangs its hat on. Of the entire meal, our group’s lone unanimous praise was for this sauce. The green sauce was a little acidic and hot for our liking, but the mole had just the right combination of smoky, peppery chocolate overtones that complemented everything on the table. We would have added it to the margaritas had they not already succumbed to three inches of melted ice.

Our bill for three people including (barely deserved) tip was $72.15. We decided we could have eaten for a week at Las Palmas for that.

Surprisingly, the Tennessean gave Rosario’s and excellent review last week. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I have a long history of disagreeing with the opinion of the Tennessean. Not the least of which is the fact that they apparently think that Nancy is a funny comic and has been worthy of precious funny page real estate for over thirty years.

But we can agree on the mole sauce. They raved about it and I concur. But will I go back just for the mole? Probably not.

7 Comments so far

  1. Kate O' (unregistered) on August 7th, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

    I bet Chris Wage is feeling left out as the only Metroblogger who didn’t get a mention in your part deux review. Sucka!

    So does this mean we’re not meeting up there for margaritas sometime this week? Bah! Where does one go for a decentgreat margarita in this town, anyway?

  2. fishwreck (unregistered) on August 8th, 2007 @ 8:10 am

    Repeat quietly: Rose Pepper

  3. Andrew (unregistered) on August 8th, 2007 @ 10:39 am

    Agree with the review completely. Although the outdoor patio was very nice, the food and drinks just couldn’t keep up. Charging $3 for crappy chips and salsa is an insult, and the lack of queso dip is outrageous. I’ll probably go back eventually… hopefully they’ll have lowered the prices and increased the quality by then.

  4. EliCash (unregistered) on August 9th, 2007 @ 12:18 am

    Yeah, Rose Pepper has the best margarita hands down

  5. Fritz (unregistered) on August 9th, 2007 @ 8:45 am

    Is that affiliated with Rosario’s in San Antonio? I’ve had some great meals there, and their salsa is crack-grade addictive. Hate to hear that the one in Nashville is sub-par.

  6. trisha (unregistered) on August 9th, 2007 @ 12:43 pm

    Have to agree with this review. I thought the food was average to good, but given the high prices I wouldn’t go back. Was also disappointed that they used so much sour mix in the margaritas. They are better at Rose Pepper for sure. Mirror also has a good margarita, especially when Stephanie has made pineapple-infused tequila.

    P.S. BTW, I think their well tequila is Cuervo Gold (so the bartender told me), which perhaps explains why they don’t offer an upgrade on the menu.

  7. Jay (unregistered) on August 15th, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

    Sounds like I’ll be sticking with Mariachi on Thompson.

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