16 March 2011

Traditional Mexican dinner

Since Mexico’s newest waterfront restaurant opened last September, there has been quite the discussion about its highlights and its shortcomings. While La Hacienda de San Angel has been monopolizing the a lot of foodies’ time, as it should as a new establishment, but what about the Hacienda’s older sibling, San Angel Inn? Recently, I explored the original waterfront eatery of Mexico, tucked deep within the pavilion’s pyramid.There is a lot of good to say about San Angel Inn, but let’s start with the mediocre. Our server, Sergio, took quite a long time to make his way to our table. After a very pleasant first exchange, however, he seemed to disappear for almost the entirety of the meal, much to the chagrin of our empty drink glasses. As for San Angel Inn itself, I can understand wanting to gather in as many guests as possible to this unique setting, but when I have to sit with my midsection pressed against the table and still get jostled by another guest in the same precarious position behind me, perhaps it is time to thin out the tables.Now, on to the good. In addition to the complimentary chips and salsa, we also began with an order of guacamole. The thick, chunky dip had enough heat to send my dining partners to their margaritas, but enough fresh flavor to be one of the hits of the meal. For the main portion of our dinner, we decided upon the three course Traditional Mexican Dinner. Both the dessert, a traditional vanilla custard known as flan, and the main course, a skirt steak served with three sides (spring onions over nopales, black beans, and cheese dusted corn kernel), were dishes we would sample again.

So, what would certainly bring me back to San Angel Inn? The answer is threefold. For starters, in what seems to be a rarity around Walt Disney World these days, my steak was prepared precisely as I had asked the first time. Second, while the bowl of Sopa Azteca, a tortilla soup with avocado, cheese and pasilla pepper, was only so-so, the presentation of the appetizer was amazing. A bowl with the various components of the Sopa Azteca is placed before the guest without broth, allowing time to take in the unique textures and vivid colors that could otherwise be in the dish. The broth is then pour over the ingredients and guests watch as the tortilla strips soften, cheese melts and the individual elements begin to mingle. It is truly a sight to behold. Lastly, the environment in which the meal is presented is second to none; dining takes place in the dim lighting of a marketplace enveloped late twilight, across a stream from a formidable pyramid and semi-active volcano.Aside from a few minor inconveniences, San Angel Inn has quite a lot to offer guests who venture off the promenade looking for a meal. Decent fare, a handful of uncommon ingredients, unique presentations, and did I mention the waterfront pyramid? Sleepy children may find dining at San Angel Inn to be a tedious chore, or fall asleep in the middle of their meal, but for the remainder of guests seeking warm sustenance, San Angel should hit the spot.


Unknown said...

I agree, the food at San Angel Inn and the setting are both worth repeating. However, after multiple tries (about every 2 or 3 years since 2002), the seating arrangement and the service just simply do not improve. It would be wonderful if (1) the # of tables was reduced and if (2) the dining staff could step up to the plate (no pun intended) in terms of attentive but unobtrusive service.

DJ HawaiianShirt said...

Interesting. When I ate there I did not notice an overcrowding. The food there isn't stellar, but the Mexican Pavilion is my favorite space in all of Disney World, and I feel it's mostly worth it just for the ambiance of the place.

I made a blog post on my cocktail blog about drinking at San Angel... here: http://spiritedremix.blogspot.com/2010/05/dj-drinks-disney.html

Great post!