Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Dining and w(h)ining in Helsinki: Pueblo Bar y Taqueria

Remember when I was thinking of all the modern and authentic Mexican restaurants that I hadn't yet had the chance to try? Well, so had a friend of mine who these days lives in Denmark. So, last time she was in town, we decided to fix this.

My friend had heard recommendations but couldn't remember the name of the restaurant. A quick survey produced two candidates: Patrona and Pueblo Bar y Taqueria. Patrona was the more tempting one out of this lot, but unfortunately was closed on Mondays.

So, Pueblo Bar y Taqueria at Eerikinkatu it was. And pretty soon it became evident this was not the restaurant we'd both been hearing of...

We didn't even let the  cold exterior get in the way of our expectations and were all set to enjoy the culinary feast of bold Mexican flavours.

To start with we had ceviche de camarones and nachos with pico de gallo and guacamole. I was under the impression that ceviche means raw fish or seafood cooked by the acidity of lime juice. Well, that these weren't. They were bland frozen ready-cooked shrimps. Nachos were ok, but... aren't they always?

Pico de gallo didn't get any rave reviews either. It (like all the trimmings) boasted the same excessive use of raw onion that was just too overpowering (and as is often the case with onions at this point of the year) far too bitter. That killed any freshness that lime and coriander (that there should have been more of) might have had the potential to provide. Even the fieriness of the chillis could not break through the onions. Guacamole was ok, but could have used more seasoning.

The place takes pride in their home-made tortillas and as can be expected, yours truly simply couldn't resist the call of carnita, slow cooked pork neck. For some reason the week of our visit the carnita was prepared form a different part of the pork, which the waitress did kindly point out to us. We were told that the method itself was going to be the same, but as the description of the part of the pork they were using should have given away, this part of pork was in its leanness simply so dry and tasteless that we really didn't see the point of it. Most of it was left uneaten.

My friend's camarones diabola were promised to have hot and spicy tiger prawns in it. I suppose judging by the size they might have been tiger prawns but the only diabolical thing about the dish was the level of our frustration at yet another generic dish. The mains, too, wee drowned in raw onion that didn't do them any favours. Most of this dish was left staring sadly on the plate too.

I'm sure the tacos were home-made but at least we just found them floury and bland. The refined beans tasted ok, but it had been left standing for so long it had had time to create its own protective shell.

The waitress was friendly and though (inspired by another Finnish blog's entry a while back) we did contemplate asking for  our money back, we couldn't muster the courage to do so. But overall the experience was not nice. I really don't think we're insufferable snobs when it comes to food, but when you have to pay for it anyway, it would be nice to get something genuinely good and prepared with passion in return. Something that not only satisfies the hunger but also gives you ideas. And joy. The way Fafa's at Iso Robertinkatu are doing with their take on Middle Eastern fast food. But this is not the place for that.

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