Feb 21, 2012

A Latin American Bad Scene

Sometimes, you make bad decisions.  And sometimes, even though you know you are making a bad decision, you stick with it.

The evening had gone well enough. The weather was great in downtown Miami.  Earlier, we had enjoyed  walking around the Bayside Market, enjoying the scenery, doing a bit of leche-vitrine . We had seen a good basketball game – well, 3 good quarters at least – that saw King James and the Heat beat the Sacramento Kings.

We decided that the weather was nice enough for us to hang out an extra hour downtown, let the game traffic dissipate. So we headed back to Bayside, where the crowd was thinning and some of the  shops were closing.  We looked for a good spot to have a drink and grab a bite to eat.  We decided to skip the Bubba Gump, Chili’s, Hooters and the Hard Rock Cafe and picked an independant tourist trap: Latin American.

We had walked by a couple of times, and the place was busy with a good vibe. The spot has a patio on the water front, with a nice view of the Marina and of the Port Boulevard Bridge, which was nicely lit in blue.  A local band was playing at Bayside’s stage lower down.  We grabbed a quiet table and start peering at the menu, hoping to prolong the evening for the best.

Our Latin American server was at the table soon enough to take our drink orders.

“I think I’m going to try this beer”, I said pointing at a Polar beer ad in the menu.
“Sorry, we don’t carry it.  It’s just an ad”, he responded.

Why would anyone print an ad for a product they don’t sell in their menu is beyond me.
But what could I do?

Puzzled, I let Bruce take the initiative.  “We’ll just have a pitcher of draught beer.” 
Fine, I thought.  Let’s do that.
“Er, sorry, this shouldn’t be on the menu.  I don’t know why it is there, we have not sold draught beer in years.”

The selection was getting limited.  Our server kept suggesting we go for one of their specialty drinks instead: mojito, margarita and other daiquiris.

But after an evening at the American Airlines Arena, I was eager for a cheap beer (As opposed to the $13.50 Corona which I reluctantly paid for over there.) The selection was limited to a handful of bottles, and I went for a Dominican Republic product I hadn’t had in years: A Presidente.

Melissa and Bruce followed my lead, but Lindsey elected to drink a Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri.

Our waiter was back shortly.
“We are out of Presidente, I am sorry.”

You got to be kidding me.  I gave up, and ordered a Pina Colada.
“You have that, right?” I asked to make sure.
Our waiter smiled feebly and went on his way to fetch our drinks.

Needless to say I was very glad to see my cocktail show up at the table.

This  should have been our first clue.
But how worse could it go?
Well, much worse.

But for the moment, I was enjoying the view and my Pina Colada, which was decent, cool, had plenty of rhum and a big, fresh slice of pineapple to boot.  Bonus, I get to keep the plastic glass!

Our food arrived a few minutes later.  I had ordered the Mariquitas con Mojo.  Mojo is a simple sauce heavy on flavour.  There are variations, but usually it contains olive oil, garlic, and citrus juice.  So my Plantain Chips arrived with the Garlic Dip sauce.

The chips were sadly of an industrial make. Not very flavourful, dry, high on the stale side of the freshness scale. Unfortunate, especially considering how good the Mojo was: olive oil, loads of garlic, lime juice, lime zest, and some heat coming I believe from cayenne.  The Mojo saved the day.  It was a bit oily, very garlicky, and had a nice bite at the finish.

Lindsay had ordered the Filetillos de Pollo Empanizado, something you may know as Breaded Chicken Fingers.

Her plate was impressive: those are not lousy reconsituted chicken fingers: what she had in front of her were 6 big pieces of chicken laying on sad lettuce, with what appeared to be a thick breading.  On the side, a good portion of fries too.  Lindsay didn’t expect that and she turned to Melissa right away, informing her that she’d been enrolled to help eat the dish.

However, they didn’t go very far.  Melissa sampled the fries, which were mushy, undercooked, and had a strong oily flavour. Meanwhile, Lindsay was munching on the chicken, when she turned and asked if this looked normal to us.  She showed us the piece of chicken she was holding in her hand: even in the darkness, I could distinguish two shades of colour, clearly white on the outside, a few shades darker on the inside.  Mel was closer, and stated categorically: this chicken is not cooked. That was the end of it for Lindsay, who returned her plate and rightfully refused to get it “re-cooked” as suggested by a random server we had flagged down. ”I won’t have anything else”, she said. Why a random server? Our assigned one had disappeared since taking our food order, and two different guys had delivered our drinks and our food.

We then turned our attention to Bruce, who was having the Club Sandwich:  Was his chicken cooked? Well, he kept eating, quickly, barely touching the fries.  His chicken seemed fine, but with haunting thoughts of samonella poisoning  the sandwich was left unfinished.

Considering the raw chicken and the mushy oily french fries, my theory is that the oil in the frier was too low. It was almost closing time, so perhaps they had shut the frier too early? Perhaps the chicken was cooked from frozen, and was too thick for the heat to get all the way through?  Whatever the reason, serving raw chicken is a big no no. A major failure. An excellent reason to never come back.

As we were waiting for our bill, I went to the bathroom. I should have gone there before we sat down: nobody can ever have a good eating experience if he has to lift the toilet seat with his foot.  An excellent reason to never come back.

When the bill was finally received, it was much to our dismay to find out that the returned raw chicken was actually showing up on the bill.  An excellent reason to never come back. Our original server, who had resurfaced, had apparently never been told about the incident. Or chose to ignore it. In any event, no one ever came to our table to apologize, or to even ask how was our food, or to even see if we needed another round of drinks.

Needless to say, we didn’t pay for the chicken. And we will never go back.

Latin American Bayside Cafe (Bayside Marketplace) on Urbanspoon

One Response

  • I had a lot of Polar beer in Venezuela. It’s one of their most popular beers. Very refreshing under a hot sun! If I ever go to Miami, I’ll make sure to avoid that place.

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