So the old Swami’s at 5th & Pennsylvania has been convereted into Cocina de Barrio. It’s menu allegedly focuses on Oaxaqeno food. Having spent a good amount of time in Oaxaca over the last 15 years, I was left scratching my head because other than a tlyuda, a couple of items with mole and the use of sal de gusano, the food of Oaxaca was not particularly well represented. Lamb appears to be the non-seafood protein of choice here, appearing in many of the menu items.
A friend and I stopped in for lunch today. The restaurant is small, fairly well appointed and comfortable. Perhaps it was the rain or perhaps it’s because they’ve ony been open 3 weeks but there were very few other customers.
My friend ordered this gorgeous looking aguachile dish.
But looks can be deceiving. The lime cured shrimp was tough and rubbery. The mango habanero salsa, on the other hand, was delicious and just hot enough without being overpowering.
I chose the callo de acha,
Again, another beautiful dish. The scallops were meltingly tender but were overshadowed by a heavy hand with the sal de gusano and wasabi aoli, which had no business on the plate. The hibiscus chile salsa was pretty darn good and paired well with the scallops and greenage on the plate
My friend tried the Zarandeado
The fish was declared perfectly cooked, once it was found under the mound of salad. Overall the dish was bland. Zarandeado was invented along the coast, just not the Oaxacan coast, and generally has a little zip to it, unfortunately, this piece of fish, while well cooked, was zip-less.
I tried one of the antojito plates, molotes mixteco
Molotes are cylendrical tubes of masa filled with almost anything. These promised chorizo de Ismeno, or chorizo from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and potato. The molotes were well filled but the chorizo resembled plain ground beef an awful lot more than it did chorizo, both in texture and flavor. The tomato salsa they arrived on was nice, the cilantro/serrano aoli tasted pretty much like Best Foods mayo into which some pureed cilantro and serrano had been whipped. But like the Zarandeado, the molotes were bland, bland, bland.
And finally…WHO IN THE HELL SERVES A SHOT OF TEQUILA IN THIS???
A 12 oz water glass is NOT, repeat, NOT the appropriate vessel in which to serve tequila, especially Siete Leguas Tequila.
Okay, so my shot of tequila, my friend’s margarita (which was quite delicious), 2 appetizers, 1 antojito plate and 1 entree all came to - I hope you’re sitting down - $93. The 2 drinks accounted for $30 of the tab.
The restaurant is pleasant, the service was weak, there was nothing wrong with the food, it was “okay” but bland. For the prices they’re charging the service should have been an awful lot better, my tequila should have come in a proper tequila glass and the food should have left an impression. As my friend said…“no wow factor, no reason to come back”