Friday, August 17, 2007

Pass over Picosa

My mother always said that people will live up to your expectations. If you don't trust that someone is going to do the right thing, they probably won't. Or she said something like that - it was probably more eloquent. It's a little fuzzy. Hey, I was 6! But it's so true.
Like, my sister one time had this boyfriend and he was a total doofus. He was this wisp of a white boy who spun records at raves in small towns. He had recreational activities that included attempting to grow what I will call here a "Victory Garden" in my sister's closet while she was still living with my parents. Adorable, right? As soon as she told me about this guy, I said he sounded like a moron. Sure enough, in all the time that they dated, he was nothing but a moron. A complete, utter, draining source of constant inane chatter slowly sapping me of the modicum of decency I try to hold out for my fellow man.
But maybe, perhaps, it was all this fungi's fault. Perhaps if I'd just ever given him a real chance and afforded him the suspended belief that I hold out for those considered innocent until proven guilty - you know, guys like Ken Lay - maybe he would have risen to the ranks of a... CEO, or maybe a politician, someone we can really trust. Instead, and I do blame myself for this, he never stopped talking until she finally closed the door on that painful chapter.
Now, I think I know how it feels. Laura and I decided that since it was possibly the most beautiful day of the summer yesterday that we'd try to find ourselves a patio. I knew that the space that used to be Sophia had reopened as new restaurant. I couldn't remember what the heck the place was called or even what food they served, but I figured, eh, what the hell? It's got a patio and it can't be any worse than any of those other joints down on St. Anthony Main. Besides, I reasoned, the view would be incredible!
I strolled up the cobblestone street and found her on the patio at Picosa. It was lovely. I failed to notice the signs were just taped over the old Sophia signs, but still, it looked nice.
Our poor waiter. The first thing he did was pour water not into Laura's glass, but instead onto her foot. And the rest of the table. He said that the happy hour special was 2 for 1's, dollar tacos and Captain Morgan specials. He didn't seem to know what "rail" meant when I was asking for the specifics on the drink specials. Answer: You can get Bacardi and coke. Anything else - you're on your own. I was just thankful something - make that two somethings - was on the way. I could relate with the poor kid. He must have been new. I've been at my new job for an entire week and I'm amazed at the shit I've managed to screw up. Anyone dealing with me right now must be convinced I'm a complete and utter moron. I pray for patience and understanding. I don't know that people in the ad biz are usually described as such, but I'm in a hopeful mood.
We ordered the beef tacos and the emanadas. I was excited when my taquito arrived in a little basin all by itself. It looked divine. The tortilla was charred, the meat looked slow roasted, there were peppers and tomatoes and roasted garlic! YUM! And... And then I had to go and try and eat it. When I picked it up a flood of tomato juice cascaded down my arm and all over my lap. I tried folding it up burrito style and again I was doused. I don't get where all that liquid was coming from! Anyway, that can be chalked up to eater error, my real problem was the flavor - there was none! I few grains of salt and a chili pepper could really have gone a long way. I took another bite and looked around, sad to see I was still in bland city. I didn't even want the rest. And I know what I'm saying here, but if you put some Taco Bell meat in this tortilla I would have been ecstatic! It bothered me that this all had the hallmarks of being home made, but tasted nothing like it.
The empandadas were better, but not much. The doughnut type dough is wrapped around braised pork, deep fried and served on a tomatillo salsa. The salsa looked fire roasted and toasty - a lot like my favorite store bought salsa. . There were little flecks of salt on top of each one, so at least I knew it wouldn't be under seasoned. So I bit in. It was perfectly cooked, crispy, doughy, the meat fell apart at first bite and yet.... Meeeaaahhh. Just grease - that's all I could taste! Even the salsa was hopelessly bland! That's when it dawned on me. They think I'm a wuss! These people - who probably have crazy culinary skills - are holding back because Minnesotans are known for being big into bland! Sure, I like a mayonnaise sandwich and a side of water crackers as much as the next guy, but I can take it! If any of you remember my whorey addiction to Szchwan food, you'll also know that I really enjoy the hazy after effects of chowing down on some chilis.
Don't be afraid people! I am in the kitchen, and I am taking the heat. It was all so boring and disappointing. Even the drinks were blah. Pooh!!! I want the chili's, I'd love the firey, smokey taste of even some mild poblano in there - hell! I was promised poblano right there on the friggin' menu! And still... nothing. It was so boring.
As a last ditch effort we ordered the calamari. Finally, something with a bit of flavor! I'm happy to report that the breading on the squid was seasoned and it was a nice crispy exterior. It was served with two sauces. One was super sweet and kind of ookey, but the other was a creamy avocado dip that had a nice little kick to it. Delicioso. Now THAT I liked! The calamari was nicely cooked, too, not tough at all. Tender as the snow on a fresh winter's day. We ate all of it.
Still, I wasn't in the mood to attempt another drink order. I read on the Thrifty Hipster that this is a great place to dance and get crazy mad shots on the weekend. Eh, they can have it.
Me and Laura? We went up to Bulldog NE for some of their fantastically heavy handed wine pours... and there may have been some truffled tots devoured.
I'm just disappointed in every joint on St. Anthony Main. You have the best real estate in town - it's true! Especially in the summer! And there's all those goofy bridge gawkers - they can't see anything, but they may be hungry! FEED THEM. And for goodness sake, have the decency to trust that they will enjoy something more sophisticated than a Manwich. Chipotle gives us that trust - and you're all so much better than that! I believe in you.


At 6:52 PM , Anonymous Really low 'berg said...

It's true! All I wanted was salve for a broken heart and what I got was flavorless tacos, weak drinks and a shoeful of ice water. But if you thought redemption would come a night later in the form of a giant flat-screen TV and some harmless flirting with a highschooler who makes $9.25/hour, well, then you'd be right.

[It's a new low and, yes, I realize I'm going to hell. At least there will be Arby's sidekickers there.]

At 11:29 AM , Anonymous andy said...

I've got to disagree with a sweeping comment against the entire St. Anthony Main restaurant scene...Pracna never fails to please.


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