Sunday, March 2, 2008

Resturant Review: Tico's Place

Yesterday my friend, Sara, and I decided to go out to lunch (without kids!) and try a new place. We decided to go down to Tico's Place at the corner of Perrin and Sommerville. The idea of a Columbian/Mexican restaurant piqued both of our curiosities. I admit up front that I am hard on a restaurant's food/money value. I cook fairly well so I want something better than mine when I go out. So there is my disclaimer;).

On the whole the food was ok and the service sub-par. If I lived in the neighborhood and was going to eat out and didn't want fast food, Tico's would be an option. It has a casual atmosphere and I would feel fairly comfortable with kids there, if the service get better. But I wouldn't drive across town for it. In reality, I might return to try their appetizers or breakfast but probably not for dinner. If you want more details than that just keep reading;).

First let's look at the food, since that is the biggest part of the restaurant experience. You automatically get chips and salsa. I do have to say that the salsa was quite good. It wasn’t very spicy and that really allowed the other flavors to develop and be tasted. Sara got her fish tacos and on the whole she was satisfied but not overly impressed. The sauce she received with her fish tacos wowed. It was a creamy, lemony sauce with a definite bite. We were going to ask our server what it was called but we never saw her again (I will get to that more later). The fish tacos were based on grilled fish and well seasoned but they were pretty small. They were, what I consider, a great appetizer size. Overall there was plenty of food but I think some of the beans and rice could have been given up for a bit more taco. Sara said her beans were watery but both the beans and rice tasted like the norm.

I ordered the Mixed Chicken Fried Rice based on a great description.

Mixed Chicken Fried Rice—Chicken fried rice with fresh chopped green beans, carrots, and peas and your choice of sweet or green plantains

Over all it was well seasoned but there wasn’t really any bite or anything that really stood out. I was disappointed that the veggies weren’t fresh. It was very obvious that it was taken from a bag of frozen mixed vegetable and while that aspect wasn’t horrible, I was really looking forward to fresh green beans. The dish also came with an arepa or a corn pancake. This was my first arepa so I don't have much to compare it to but it seemed as if it was left over too. It was cold, very dense and heavy. It's obvious that this is one of those dishes that it is designed to be a leftover dish. It uses leftover rice, veg and chicken, there isn’t really a fresh element added to it. While that is fine, I don’t know if it was worth $9.95. If it were priced at about $5-$6, I might be coming down and getting it all the time.

So onto the service and other details. We were out for an early lunch so we weren't surprised when we were the only customers. Our waitress came to our table and was pleasant but when we exchanged pleasantries she made me a little nervous. She explained how she had a virus thing that was bothering her and she really rather be in bed but had to be at the restaurant. Let me just stop right here. While I really do mean it when I ask how you are, I don't want to hear that a sick person is handling my food. And we're back;). Something I found a bit shocking is that there is a full Columbian menu and a separate Mexican menu. I expected a bit more fusion. Most meals were priced well, between $8.95 to $15, with some above that but most in that range. So we order, get our drinks, chips, etc. I ordered an appetizer of Plantains con queso. After a few minutes she came out and told us she wasn't sure that she had enough plantains for our order but she would let us know later. She doesn't ask if we would like a different appetizer or anything. Then she brings out our meals and said she didn't have enough. She refills the drinks then and that is the last time we see her. No, really. The restaurant fills up, more servers come out and no one stops by our table. about 20 minutes after we are done eating we flag down someone and ask for a bill. Then they tried to charge us for the appetizer we didn't get. I understand that they are still new and people have bad days so I hope this isn't the norm.

My overall is that it is ok. If you are just going to go somewhere it is moderate to good. But, if you are looking for a special treat this may not be the place.

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