Monday, September 8, 2008

Restaurant Review - Amigos

I'm starting a new feature here at Kimchi HQ called Restaurant Reviews. I searched for days for that title so hands off. These reviews are the personal opinion of myself and possibly Jeff. I'm no hardcore foodie so my standards might be lower than your's so be warned. On with the show......

120 W. Jefferson Ave, Kirkwood, Mo, 63122

First off, this place looks really inviting from the outside. It's located in a strip of businesses, but what makes it stand out are the hundreds of brightly painted wood shingles that cover every bit of the exterior facade. I would have tried the place based on that alone. I know, I'm easy. Inside is a fairly non-cheesy example of how to do a mexican restaurant well. Nice distressed wood booths, color-washed walls in non jarring colors and a really nice addition of rough hewn overhead beams that lend a rustic feel. We started with chips and salsa, which in my opinion is one of the main reasons to actually go at eat there instead of carry-out and a good precursor to how good the food will be. That being said, the chips were... okay. I doubt they were homemade, but that didn't stop me from eating an entire basket myself. The salsa was very fresh tasting and had a nice kick without making my eyes water. I generally prefer a cooked, smooth salsa, but this chunky variety was delicious. Slightly heavy on the cilantro, but that's my own cross to bear. We also opted to try a margarita, even though it was only 11:45am. Hey, it was Saturday! The marg was awesome! Strong but smooth with a nice tangy finish. We shared a regular, which was good because had we both had one on an empty stomach, we would have had to call a cab. We are cheap dates. We stuck with guacamole as an appetizer, although I'm looking forward to going back to sample some of their other offerings. The guacamole was honestly some of the best I've ever had. My beef with most guacs is that they just lack any kind of punch and you're basically left with a bland scoop of mashed avocado with a teeny squirt of lime juice. This guac was extremely flavorful, almost to the point that if you used it as a condiment, it might just overpower the food. With chips though, it was outstanding. Oniony, limey and just enough fresh herb to elevate it beyond your average dip.
For our entrees, I opted for the taco combo, which normally comes with one ribeye taco, one carnita taco and one fish taco with your choice of hard or soft shell. When I asked the waiter if I could substitute another carnita for the ribeye, he "had to check with the chef" and returned to inform me that the chef was in a good mood so yes, they would substitute. This leads me to think that substituting isn't something they normally do so be warned. I personally don't get that since I'm eating it and paying for it but whatever. I also opted for soft shell and was pleasantly surprised to see a soft corn tortilla instead of the usual flour. The carnitas taco was very flavorful, with the meat flavor taking center stage. It tasted porkier and more grilled than I'm used to with carnitas, which was not a bad thing. The taco suffered somewhat from cilantro overload, which again is my personal issue with cilantro and if you enjoy it, you would enjoy this taco. A nice fresh pico, lettuce and queso fresco rounded it out. While I enjoyed the carnitas, I REALLY liked the fish taco. It was done in the Baja style, which is my favorite and was simply a piece of breaded tilapia, shredded napa cabbage, queso fresco and a dollop of tangy lime yogurt sauce. It was outstanding. I've made this at home many times but the lime sauce was worth going back for. The side was some sort of potato medley, which I could have done without. I would have preferred rice and beans.

Jeff chose the carnitas quesadilla as his meal, which was chock full of meat and cheese, just the way he likes it. The tortilla was grilled perfectly, giving you a nice crunch to contrast the warm, gooey center. It was served with the usual pico and sour cream, the latter of which I stole for my tacos. Considering we had now gone through almost three baskets of chips (crikey!), we were too full for dessert but rest assured we'll try on our next visit.

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