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Las Cazuelas

Where are you eating and what do you think? What's opening, closing, succeeding, failing?

Las Cazuelas

Postby TheSyndicate » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:23 pm

My wife and I stopped by Las Cazueleas,the new Mexican restaurant in the former home of Cafe Porta Alba and any number of other eateries. We were very pleasantly surprised.

Though we did not partake of any booze, they had a nice selection of tequilas and the margarita menu included a interesting-sounding spicy margarita made with chile-infused tequila. Aside from that they had several beer selections and a full-bar.

One caveat before I get to the food. The prices seem a bit high - e.g., carnitas tacos with rice and beans run in the 10-12 dollar range.

Anyway, my wife had the Camarones Al Mojo De Ajo (shrimp sauteed with garlic, oregano and lemon butter served over rice and beans). The shrimp were cooked perfectly and had a lot lemony-garlic flavor (we both missed the oregano from the description).

I had the Chamorro - a slow roasted pork shank with Mole Amarillo. This was very good and absolutely huge. The shank, rice and tortillas were easily enough for two and with a $17 price tag, not a bad deal if you want to share a dish with someone. The Mole Amarillo was sweet, salty and slightly spicy with a nice hint of citrus and cilantro. Most interestingly, it was made in the wood burning oven left there by Cafe Porta Alba. The menu has 4 dishes made in the wood-burning oven (including a delicious sounding Barbacoa) which is certainly something to set them apart from other Mexican places in town.

Overall, the food was very good (though not amazing) and we'd love to go back to try some of the margaritas. The service was just OK. There was NO ONE in the restaurant aside from us and one other couple and we sat with empty water glasses (before the food came) for 10-15 minutes while the waitstaff chit-chatted back by the kitchen. The woman behind the bar ended up coming over to check on us because she noticed we had nothing to drink.

I hope this place can beat the curse of that location - it seems like they are trying to do something a bit different from other local Mexican places and they are (at least on the food side) doing it well.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby ko-Kayne » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:37 am

@10-12 dollars for tacos + rice and beans, no wonder nobody else was there.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby TAsunder » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:23 am

$10 is a bit much, but that's about what it costs at Tex Tubbs, and I think this place is probably better by default.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby ko-Kayne » Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:46 am

most things are better then Tex Tubbs by default.

While it's not like there is any dearth of great cheap Mexican food in the city (or state for the matter, Green Bay has some seriously amazing places), it still utterly confounds me why so many people insist on eating overpriced gringo garbage when better could be had for less.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby nevermore » Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:28 am

Skip the tacos, enchiladas, etc. and order the fire-oven dishes. Those are excellent and you won't get anything like that elsewhere. Also, the margaritas are better than most other places. mrs. nevermore and I went there last week and we'll be back.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby Ducatista » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:02 pm

ko-Kayne wrote:...overpriced gringo garbage...

Have you been to Las Cazuelas, or is this just general bitching?

Just made a reservation at Las Cazuelas for tonight. Looks pretty cozy from the outside, and it's a great NYE spot for us—we can walk there, then wander around the square in search of cocktails.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby Ducatista » Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:05 pm

Dinner was great. I had the chamorro, and second the report above. It killed me to leave the leftovers as we headed out on our cocktail crawl. Too fucking cold to carry around takeaway.

My husband had the cochinita pibil, slow-roasted pork in banana leaves. He loved it. The rest of the table had typical mex rest fare, fajitas and tacos. They all seemed quite happy, except for the woman who expected beef tacos and got pork and decided to forego dinner instead of requesting a fix. *shrug*

The appetizers were tasty—fresh guac, queso fundido with chorizo—but completely unnecessary given the generous entree portions.

We all liked the house margaritas, but there were no margarita snobs at the table, so take that for what it's worth.

We'll definitely be back.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:57 pm

Hey Ducatista --

Can you give me a cilantro report?
I'm one of those people -- I absolutely cannot eat the stuff, because it doesn't taste like food to me, it tastes like soap -- and often it's not listed on the menu as an ingredient. Was it in everything? Nothing? Just the guac?

It's became so ubiquitous in Mexi cuisine these days that there are restaurants I simply cannot eat at.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby Ducatista » Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:03 pm

I hear you. I used to be one of you, in fact. First time I encountered the stuff was on a visit to Madison, at a Vietnamese restaurant with my sister. The spring rolls tasted like burnt plastic to both of us... didn't realize until later what the offending ingredient was. She still can't stand it, but I turned the corner with my first cilantro-y Thai dish. Now I love it. It think that's unusual, though, because isn't cilantro hate one of those hardwired things, like being a supertaster?

Anyway, there was a lot of cilantro at Las Cazuelas, but it was often listed as an ingredient, so maybe at least some of the dishes that didn't list it were cilantro free, dunno.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:12 pm

Ducatista wrote:...isn't cilantro hate one of those hardwired things, like being a supertaster?


Heh. I initially misread that as "like being a superstar" which, of course, is totally hardwired into the very core of my being.

But yeah, the cilantro thing is (often insensitively described as) a genetic defect. I don't think any serious research has been done on the subject, but the general consensus seems to be that it's because cilantro contains linalool, which is very fragrant and used in the making of soaps and perfumes. But I dunno, linalool is in lots of other stuff I have no trouble eating, so what gives? What I do know is cilantro (unless used very sparingly) makes things basically inedible to me, so thanks for the report. I think I'm better off just steering clear.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby TheBookPolice » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:37 pm

I have heard that if cilantro is quickly steamed, it loses the soapiness. Something to try, if only once, at home, to see if it cures cilantrophobia.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby AaronTheSnob » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:02 pm

Cilantro is, most assuredly, one of those "love it/hate it" things. As for me...the mere smell of it makes my mouth start watering. I literally can eat it raw (have eaten an entire bunch before), and load it in just about every Mexican/Southwestern recipe I make.

My partner, on the other hand, can't stand it. The smell of it results in near-nausea for him.

So, there ya go.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby kiwiwannabe » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:10 pm

And that's another side to the cilantro issue - why do so many of us who love the stuff end up with people in our lives who hate it? If I want to add it to my food, I have to make a separate batch with none added, so he will be able to eat it.

We also have this problem with hot peppers and other strong flavors, although some progress has been made toward compromise there......

It's hard to feed/love someone who's been brought up on the Midwestern bland diet when you prefer exotic/multicultural stuff.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby TAsunder » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:32 pm

We went there last week on new year's day. I had the chamorro which is absurdly huge - easily could make for dinner for 2. It was pretty good. The sauce was supposedly imported from oaxaca; it tasted closer to a vinegary hot sauce than I would expect - I prefer the yellow oaxacan mole I make myself, but not by a huge margin.

My partner had fajitas, also good (for fajitas, anyway). The wait staff was somewhat inebriated because they were called in unexpectedly to work. So they did some strange stuff, but were friendly and comped us a bunch of stuff - including margaritas. The margaritas were just ok... again, I definitely prefer the stuff I make at home, but free is free. Not sure I would pay $7 for one next time.

Overall it was a positive experience. Nice to have a mexican place that isn't horrific (Frida's) in the area. We will be going back.
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Re: Las Cazuelas

Postby Ducatista » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:06 pm

kiwiwannabe wrote:It's hard to feed/love someone who's been brought up on the Midwestern bland diet when you prefer exotic/multicultural stuff.

Can't blame it solely on upbringing. I grew up on standard home-cooked German fare in central WI; my husband grew up on junk food just north of Duluth. We both love hot and/or spicy food from around the world, and we both love cilantro.
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