Monday, March 31, 2008

Gardens of Taxco

Gardens of Taxco

(323) 654-1746
1113 N Harper Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90046

Adequately Fed: $25
Tortilla Soup***
Chicken Enchilada***
Shrimp in Cilantro Cream Sauce***
Banana Cream with Cream Sherry*****
(Out of Five Stars)

The Aztec city of Tlacho is the modern Mexican city of Taxco and inspiration for this Los Angeles restaurant. The unassuming exterior is off of the main drag Santa Monica Boulevard, but a large sign will direct you to turn onto the correct little street. Inside, the atmosphere is crowded and dark. I don't know if that's common for Mexican restaurants in Mexico, but it a tad too dark and warm to be comfortable. A musician with a guitar roams the premises playing La Bamba and other songs for the drunken gringos.

The catch with this place is that it has no menus. A waiter comes over and announces the entrees. Each meal is five courses; you have a choice of several different items. Beef, chicken, shrimp, and fish, there are a few different preparations for each type of meat. If you're a vegetarian, your options are severely limited if available at all. Their main sauce is a cream cilantro that seems to come available on anything and everything. The waiter really makes ordering a theatrical experience, but it is difficult to keep track of everything and make a decision.

With a pitcher of pineapple margaritas, chips and salsa, and Mexican pickles, we waited for our food. The first course quesadillas came out with guacamole, a great way to start your meal. Secondly, comes a tortilla soup with Mexican meatballs called albondigas. It was a simple soup, a good way to round off a multi-course meal, but nothing spectacular. Third, a chicken enchilada with a cheese sauce similar to nacho cheese. It is delicious in small proportions such as on the appetizer, but in large quantities would be overwhelming.

Now the entree is where each dinner's fare diverges. I had the shrimp with the oft mentioned cilantro cream. It came plated with refried beans, rice, and a dallop of guacamole. Personally, I've never been a fan of refried beans or Mexican rice, but the shrimp was decent. The sauce was a bit of a letdown considering how well the waiter spoke of them.

Dessert consided of a small banana cream, smooth in consistency and a small glass of creme sherry to be poured on top. The combination of the dessert and alcohol was a splendid way to top off the meal, bringing the dining experience together as a whole.

In general, the food was decent, no dish a major disappointment. For multiple courses like this, I'd like to see each course working better together to complete the meal. They do serve you a large amount of food; be prepared since you can't really order less. Overall, a solid restaurant and good place to go with friends.

Recommendation: Listen very closely to the waiter when hearing about the entrees. Be decisive and don't dwell too much on what you're ordering.

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