I’m beginning to think there’s something off about this block at Detroit and Warren. Nothing moves in and stays.
I’m not expecting this one to stay long either. It’s a huge space and they just don’t have the set up for something so large.
Steve and I ventured in on a weekday mid afternoon. It was empty. A bad experience from the outset.
‘I needed to use the restroom and the woman I was motioning to and inquiring of didn’t speak English. Although she tried to pretend that she did, by using familiar phrases, her frowns and darting eyes, while she fidgeted with the menu and tried to seat us in the worst seat in the house, when all I wanted was a restroom and to eat after, told a different story. She kept nodding saying yes, yes while she tried to seat us way in a corner that I suddenly realized was not the restroom, but where napkins and silver are prepared for service. I was asking and pointing “was the restroom over there, where is it?”, and she thought I wanted to sit there. It was an unsettling experience that unfortunately lasted the entire meal.
Finally a guy came out and directed me. He explained that she’s learning English. Why, I’m asking to myself in a restaurant that large, would he have the one who doesn’t speak English work the front end? Maybe that’s how he thinks she’ll learn faster, or maybe he wants the customers to teach her so he doesn’t have to. I don’t know the reason, but I’m paying for a meal, he isn’t paying me to be a social worker. It was all wrong.
Still, he said she was learning so that must mean she knows some words. Vegan wasn’t one of them. In fact, she didn’t know how to understand any of the menu items when spoken in English. So we had to point. Okay, but I had a couple questions and she couldn’t answer, because she didn’t understand.
Steve did the pointing thing and he ended up with beef cuts instead of chicken cuts.
Finally, I asked her to get the guy again, and still she didn’t understand even with motioning. By then the guy realized I wasn’t a quick lunch customer who points to an item on the menu and she brings it when it’s ready, and Steve and I were raising our voices trying to make her understand, because she kept acting like she couldn’t hear us. He came out again and spent a little more time.
Steve ordered a beer that was on the menu, but they didn’t have it, then she gets restless because he wasn’t deciding an alternative quickly enough. There was no one in the restaurant but us. I went with a Bud Light figuring it was so popular they’d have it. They did.
The salsa, chips and guacamole were good, but nothing to brag on. I get tired of those darn chips. Every time I go to a Mexican/Latino restaurant I end up with sore gums. One tip of the chip always finds it’s way between my gum and tooth like a sharp knife. Then I spend half the time trying to remove it. These restaurants really do need to improve on they’re tortilla chips. They’ve gone decades without making any upgrades. Dirt cheap is what they’re looking for is probably why.
“We’re working on a vegan menu”, he said. Oddly that’s what everybody says. But they’re not. When I go back, nothing has changed.
The downtown Marriott said on their restaurant website that they had a vegan menu coming soon, when they reopened. I called, spoke to one of the chefs and he said they weren’t doing the vegan menu any more, but probably he’d have one vegan item.
So these promises are meant for show only. Maybe they get a kickback or a benefit from the government for adding vegan options to show the health insurance companies that restaurants are doing their part in preventing preventable diseases. I don’t know, but I hear it a lot.
I wanted to know about the handmade corn tortillas. Were they like enchiladas with a potent maize flavor? I was hoping not, but I’ve been bamboozled before. He swore by them so that’s what I ordered. Now that was my first surprise – there was no maize flavor. They were puffy almost like pancakes but coarser. Beautifully done.
It was what was in them that was the problem. If you’re going to have a vegan section, then why not a tofu as a meat substitute? Nearly everybody acts like they’re allergic, like it’s not a real ingredient. I’ll tell you, two local eateries that do tofu well are: CILANTRO TAQUERIA and MASHISO ASIAN GRILL. One’s Mexican and the other Asian. Earth Bistro also does tofu.
The cook took frozen vegetable medley, grilled a few sides after it was thawed, with no seasoning and stuffed them between two of these lovely handmade corn tortillas. One of the vegetables was I believe a yellow carrot or summer squash that was so puffed with water it squirted when I bit into it. Terrible. Although these veggies had grilled marks on them, they were previously soaked in water and were water-logged. Again, no seasoning. Bland, bland, and no sauce. The woman brought out two bottles of mayo based dressings, but nothing animal-free.
I ended up putting some salsa on the veggies that made a horrible match, and the veggie pieces were too big. They shred meat for all their pockets, tacos or rollups, yet use huge buds of cauliflower when it’s vegetables they’re using. Why the difference? Shred the veggies then, make them savory like you make the meat.
If they’re going to make vegan aerpa, then they need an animal-free sauce(s) commensurate with the two animal based cream sauces they serve with the animal meat counterparts. They drop the ball, all of them.
The second thing that stood out was the sweet plantain deep-fried. Now that was delicious, but when teamed with the tomato salsa and those watery vegetables in the corn tortilla it was a disaster.
Steve and I both ate the fried sweet plantain and enjoyed every bite.
I can’t imagine returning. Some people open too soon, thinking they’re ready when they’re clearly not. They need the money or want to work out some kinks with a soft opening. This was not a soft opening. Not being ready will cost them business. Assigning people to work the front end who can’t speak a word of English is not the way to make someone fluent. It’s a way to lose business.
I was drawn to them when online I saw they had vegan options. Most vegan options in most restaurants who offer them, take away the animal but don’t replace it with something that’s complimentary to the entire dish. They don’t know how. They’re animal cookers. They don’t know anything else. In a competitive restaurant/bar market you need to learn some animal-free skills that will make you excel, not merely scrape by.
They do a lot with dairy in these restaurants that they could also do with non-dairy instead of simply eliminating the dairy with no replacement.
You do want repeat customers, don’t you?