Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Matt's Birthday Meal

Saturday was sweltering, but also the day that we'd chosen to celebrate the beginning of Matt's next year on this planet. We spent parttof the afternoon watching Ratatouille in the blissfully chilled movie theater and went for an early dinner at El Patio. I can't remember what used to be there, but this is a new(ish) restaurant right across the street from the Downtowner Woodfire Grill on West 7th by the Xcel center.
Even though we went in at an odd hour, there were still a few customers. The bar area is large and the patio would have looked quite inviting were it not the surface temperature of the sun outside. Right after we sat down, we were served a small cup of soup, chips with fresh salsa and some kind of salty cheese dip as well as glasses of water with lemon. I couldn't quite imagine what the soup was all about, so I tasted it first. It was a lovely chicken broth, filled with cilantro and a small odd lump of meat at the bottom that I'm fairly certain was pork. Fairly, and from what part of the pig, I couldn't tell you. I slurped it down. When I'd been sitting in the car marveling that my knees could sweat that much, I never would have believed you if you'd told me that I'd be sucking down hot soup - happily, moments later, but here I was.
As an appetizer we ordered the Ceviche - which makes much more sense. The shrimp was diced, soaked in plenty of lime juice and mixed with fresh tomatoes, red onion and cilantro all on a crispy little tostada and garnished with thin slices of avocado. It was a bright little dish; cool and refreshing, very straight forward.

And the whole time I'm eating it, I'm trying to pay attention to Matt and what he's saying, but I can't stop staring at this TV behind the bar. I should address the noise level in this place. It's pretty loud. Not loud, like my friend Aisha's Mexican relatives at a reunion, but still a din that I think would make her feel at home. There was a draw down screen by the door playing MTV Tres, overhead music and then this TV. All were loud, all at different parts of different songs. It was... distracting. But we'd been together all day, so it wasn't like I could possibly be missing much, right?
I wanted to split entrees because it seemed as though we had enough food going for us, but Matt was keen for some fish and I'm embarrassed to say - not a big fan. I mean, it depends on the preparation, but usually, I'm gonna pass on the little swimmers. (But I eat shrimp, they scurry, there's a difference.) When Matt ordered the waiter gently pointed over Matt's menu that this is what the fish dish looks like. Matt nodded his head. The waiter warned, "We leave the head on." Apparently, the other day there'd be a big discussion on the deliciousness of Walleye cheeks, so I think the head had really been a selling point.
Matt waved him away, "Fine. Fine."
I ordered the Chicken Devil Mary style. It's a different take on my favorite sauce that Salsa A La Salsa makes Diablo Maria/ Devil Mary Style. Same dif. (Salsa is a little better, though.)
The food came out and I tried to snap a quick pic of Matt's tilapia before it was gone. I barely made it.

Let me tell you people, he took that sumbitch DOWN. Meanwhile, I'm still distracted by the TV behind the bar. Is... Is that the Doors? Then I'd try to eat a bit of my own food. It had a nice heat and the tortilla were probably my favorite that I've ever had in a restaurant - you could tell that they were homemade. Whoa! Look at the price on that Menudo box set! How many songs did those guys have? Look at Matt go on the fish!! He's ripping it apart like a regular Dr. Frankenfish. That Monster! Wait - wait - is that Milli Vanilli? They're actually playing the entire video? What this is crazy! Whew this sauce is hot. Hmmm... sauce on the tortillas. Whoa! Matt just ate some mystery organ! AC/DC Rules!! He's sucking on the lips! Oh my God he's sucking on the lips.
OMG, Frankie Says Relax. Look at that back up singer! Gayest dude ever!! And he's got Matt's mustache! Bwa!!! This is great!
Oy, soon my neck and stomach were sore. It was so much fun. Matt picked every edible part of that little fish off and ate it. All that was left was a pile of bones looking like something out of a Sylvester & Tweety bit. There were a couple of down sides in that the amount of black flies was a little annoying and an extra waitress asked us no less than five times if everything was okay. ("YES!!!!") Meanwhile, Matt had gone through two stacks of cocktail napkins and his original cloth napkin. He declared the birthday dinner a big success.


At 4:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Mexican girl stopped in for a much needed cocktail post the Roger Waters concert. Awesome place! I agree with the patio assessment, it looked great but way to humid for comfort. Even as people continued to spill in off the street, we were served promptly. A winner in my book.

At 11:43 AM , Blogger Scott McGerik said...

Before it was El Patio, it was Champps and before that it was Vine Park Brewing.

Kat and I dined on the patio which was, thankfully, television free. It was a cool day so it felt comfortable.

I remember the soup being tasty. Our entrees were good but I do not remember what we got. Service was reasonably good. I never lacked for a beverage.

At 12:31 PM , Anonymous Jlo said...

We need a new blog post, dammit!

At 10:16 AM , Blogger Joy Estelle said...

jlo - buy me dinner and we'll talk! I'm so poor and boring right now it's unbelievable. I'm so depressed by my own mediocrity.

At 6:55 AM , Anonymous jlo said...

Dude... Craftsman?

I ate at Totino's this weekend and with the dried out food and bad attitudes we got it's no wonder they're going out of business.


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