Saturday, October 08, 2005

Review: the new Chile Verde

Life's been more hectic than usual. I was home with Logan on Thursday because he wasn't feeling well. I wouldn't have bothered going in to work today to catch up if it wasn't for the fact that I have to do on-site training in Michigan in a week. So, not much time to update the blog.

On the way home I passed the new Chile Verde. Chile Verde is a local chain of Mexican restaurants. The one on Louisville is one of our favourite places to eat. They opened their fourth restaurant on September 26. We had dinner there on the 29th. The good news is that it's only about a 3 minute drive from our house. The bad news is that we probably won't eat there very much.

The location is pretty. It's on the west side of highway 165 north of Forsythe. The rear dining area has a nice view of the bayou/canal and the woods beyond. The building has been a succession of bars and restaurants. Considering how busy it's been since, the location doesn't appear to be a problem. The place is painted in gaudy, bright colours, but you expect that in a Mexican place.

You also expect a certain amount of disorganization in a restaurant's first week. At the same time, the new Chile Verde had big shoes to fill. We're usually served in under 10 minutes at the Louisville store, regardless of how busy they are. This new place was pretty busy, but definitely not up to capacity. There were several empty tables in our section. Our order was taken shortly after we sat down and the waitress came by our table a couple of times in the next few minutes, so she was not overworked. Even still, it took about half an hour for our food to arrive.

I ordered the enchiladas a la crema, my favourite. When it arrived, I was dismayed. Instead of the usual mixed Mexican cheese sauce, it had a white sauce with red and green peppers throughout. The peppers overpowered the dish. It was spicey enough that I took one bite and then sent it back. To their credit, the manager came to the table right away. He explained that the chef made the dish in a different manner from the other restaurants. Okay, I can understand wanting to do something new, but they shouldn't change the recipe of an established dish! People expect their food to turn out more-or-less the same way at each restaurant in a chain, otherwise why bother eating at a chain?

Alana wasn't crazy about her taco salad. She thought it was a bit tasteless (ironic, considering what was wrong with mine). Logan did like the kids' pizza meal, though.

I doubt very much that our waitress will make the cut. She seemed a bit nervous and shy at first, but this later became disinterest. Maybe she was worried that having a dish sent back would hurt her tip. When I brought the problem of my dinner to her attention she argued that the restaurant was essentially the same as the West Monroe store (there are slight variations in the Louisville and West Monroe restaurants), and that the enchiladas were made the same way there. We ate at the West Monroe location a month ago and I know it wasn't made this way. Restaurants, like other retail establishments, tend to over-hire for the first month and pare down the staff after the initial rush is over. I would be very surprised to find her still working there by Thanksgiving.

In spite of the proximity, we'll continue to eat at the Louisville location. We might give the highway 165 store another try, but it's definitely on probation. It's not that it's a bad Mexican restaurant — it still beats out El Chicos — but it's nowhere near as good as the Louisville store. Monroe isn't so large that an extra 10 minute drive, even with gas at its current extortionate price, is that big of a pain.

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