Friday, April 29, 2011

The Rare Night Out: Tamarindos Mexican Restaurant

With a sixteen-month old at home, the wife and I don't really get to go out much. However, the other night was one of our friend's birthday parties so my sister-in-law was gracious enough to do some babysitting (thanks, Elio!). So out we went to Tamarindos Mexican Restaurant in Ambler for a night of drunken fun and frivolity.

Before I touch on the food, let me discuss the atmosphere. It was a good place for our party, in that they had the music pumped up pretty loud. We tend to get somewhat loud, especially at a BYOB. So I would imagine the customers were probably wondering why the music had to be cranked, but it probably saved them from having to hear a lot of voluminous (and sometimes crude - the cruder the better in fact) laughing and joking. If I were to have my druthers, however, I probably would have wanted them to turn it down a little bit. It was impossible to hear a person more than one seat away from you (I had to strain for a discussion with the person right across the table from me) and the waitress was helpless to shout out the specials (she had to do them twice, once at each end of the table).

I will say this though: This place really does know how to have a good time. When the place cleared out a little bit, they moved some tables to the side and all of a sudden the back part of the restaurant was a dancefloor. Not one where everybody danced mind you, but one where the servers (the professionals if you will; the non-whiteys if you won't) took turns getting their swirl on with our waitress in true salsa fashion. Not that I can blame them: I didn't look at her at all because I only have eyes for Mrs. Saucy, but I got a sort of spidey sense telling me that she was somewhat caliente, if you catch my drift (OK, that was lame, but what do you want? I've been married for almost six years!).

Then there was the tequila drinking contest that seemed to break out at some point. All I know is that at some random moment in time, a sort of carnival barker showed up from the direction of the kitchen with a pitcher. He began yelling exuberantly and placed a seat in the middle of the floor. People who volunteered would come sit in the seat and the caterwauling gentleman would use some sort of apparatus to shoot tequila into their mouths for as long as they could stand. Two of out group took part in the Caligulan liquor consumption, and not surprisingly one of them ended up hurling later in the night, and the other one got a Jose Cuervo shower! Maybe that sounds gross to you? If so, congratulations on your moral fiber! I thought it was SMASHING!!!

With the food, I was a little unimpressed. Due to some ordering confusion, I did not get an appetizer, but a pal (the one who would later be drenched in margarita fodder) was kind enough to let me sample his since I had missed out. I no longer see it on the menu so I won't be able to describe it very well, but I believe it was a sort of meatball with melted oaxaca cheese. The bite I had was very good, and it had me excited for the main course. After noshing on some nacho chips that were very tasty but accompanied by salsa that I would say was exotic yet average and sipping from a complementary margarita (very appreciated!), my meal surfaced. It was the Fajas de Pollo y Carne. So nothing adventurous, just the steak and chicken fajitas. Anyway, they weren't really great. There was no sizzle by the time they got to me. Plus, there was no incredible flavor other than what I got from the salsa that was brought with them. Don't get me wrong: They weren't horrible. I ate the whole meal. It is simply that I would relate them to something i would get at Chili's and when I am going to a Mexican restaurant I expect a lot more than that.

You say, "Well, maybe you should have got something better than fajitas. Step it up, pal!" That is probably true. But in talking to Mrs. Saucy, she was also underwhelmed by her meal, the Puerco Poc-Chuc, a pork tenderloin topped with habanero sauce, spices, and tomato sauce. She described her dinner with many words that you would hate to see in a Craig LaBan review if you were a restauranteur: "flavorless," "not spicy," and "rubbery" were some of the lowlights. If I remember correctly, there were no real raves that emerged from any of our friends' mouths in relation to the dinner.

I did get dessert as well, because something really caught my eye. It was called Manzana, a poached apple with caramel sauce (I love caramel sauce almost as much as the tomato variety), vanilla ice cream, and strawberry preserves. You know, I must have just not known what a poached apple was. I thought I would be getting something like an apple pie, and it was really more like a peeled apple that had been softened slightly in water. All I had was a spoon and it was pretty tough to eat the thing. I finally borrowed another spoon from someone else and used the handle to get leverage in what used to be the apple's core. Anyway, it was difficult to eat, and the caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream was less than ample. Can't recommend it!

So the meal was kind of a bust really when you consider that only the bite I got of some other brother's appetizer was distinctive. Still, the wine and beer (thanks to a friend - a lady at that! - who clutchly brought some very refreshing Victory Headwaters Pale Ale) was flowing and they were very cool about not trying to rush us out of there. The server was very attentive if a little slow in fulfilling requests. However, it was not egregious. She always got to it eventually, and like I said, there was a rumor circulating that she was easy on the eyes. I don't know this because if I look at a lady I am told that I would turn to stone. And I believe it! So I never do!!!

A quick word about the Broad Axe Tavern: After we were done at Tamarindos, we jetted over there (it's literally the length of a football field away from the restaurant) for a nightcap. I don't know if I would recommend this place for a raucous party (it had a fairly small bar and a cozy, downhome feel), but it definitely seems like it would be a terrific place for a quiet meal with the spouse or a couple buds. They have an extensive bottle list and some real winners on the draft docket as well. I consumed two beers while I was there: a Stone Arrogant Bastard, which was transcendent per usual, and another IPA that I don't remember, not because it wasn't exceptional, but because I probably didn't NEED another beer after sucking down a Bastard. Oh well! It ain't like I drove off the road! So all's well that ends well!

Tamarindos Mexican
(215) 619-2390
36 W Skippack Pike
Ambler, PA

Tamarindos Mexican on Urbanspoon

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