I love Mexican food, I love good service, and this place didn’t hit the mark on either. I have been missing Mexican food terribly since moving to Australia. It is definitely a cuisine that lacks presence here. When I heard Casa Margarita had opened I was elated and extremely hopeful that this would fill that void and I could gladly become a regular.
We entered a nearly empty dining room, the only other table present was wrapping up. We waited for some acknowledgement, got none, assumed it was a seat yourself environment. We watched a girl behind the bar with her back to the dining room the entire time we were in there. A man from the only table there got up and stood near us at the bar waiting for the same acknowledgment so he could pay his bill. We both waited a bit, then he gave in, spoke up and asked for his bill. Just as we were about to pick a spot to sit and wait for someone to notice us a gentleman entered from the patio and said hello. We exchanged greetings. Awkward pause. I hesitantly asked if we seat ourselves, unsure if I was speaking to an employee or friendly patron. As he began to seat us I asked for a high chair. No high chairs…they have a kids menu, so not sure how kids menu = no high chair, but there we were at an awkward pause again while I considered leaving and returning another day with my own. He then suggested a couch area with a low coffee table. Assuming I could make do with that, we went ahead. I needed a Mexican fix, we’d tough it out. So we were seated and given menus. He then disappeared. Time ticked by, the female server (and I’ll use that term loosely for this review), walked by several times never interacting, never even looking so that we might catch her eye. I finally stopped her and asked if I could at least order for my daughter so we could get her food underway. Ordered the kids quesadilla, she walked into the kitchen, came back a couple minutes later with a pad and asked again what the order was. I again asked for the quesadilla. She went back to the kitchen. Now, I need to note that at no point was the coffee table ever cleared of magazines and brochures. Sure, its not a normal dining table, but if you’re going to seat me there, then be prepared to serve me. We were never given cutlery, glasses, etc. Even though I asked the server for cutlery before my daughters meal came, we got none. Giving up, I got up and took a basket from a neighboring table. When her food came it was handed to me. I sat it down to get her situated, looked up, server gone again. I got up again in search of a spoon so we could feed her the rice and refried beans. I found the girl, asked for a spoon. She asked if I wanted a large or small spoon, I answered and I was quickly given a spoon. I returned to the table. Again, we resumed waiting. The girl walked by, cleaned the table from the previous diners, walked by again, reset the table. On her third trip by and still no acknowledgement, I stopped her and asked if we could now order. We waited for her to go back to the kitchen again, get her pad and she took our order. Queso, Chimichanga and fajitas. She left and I waited for the return so she could ask the follow up question that comes when you order fajitas. 3-2-1 and…chicken or beef? We finished our order and waited again. I suppose the waiting at this stage wouldn’t have been so bad had we been offered drinks. I was envisioning the perfect margarita served on the rocks with salt…but at this stage those thoughts had quickly diminished and I just wanted to eat and leave. And when I say offered drinks – even water would have sufficed at that stage. Since we were more of an inconvenience than a guest, I just couldn’t be bothered asking for this most basic component of any dining experience. Even maccas asks if you’d like a drink. The queso came, flavor was fine, but it was very thick and served with only 3 small flour tortillas. Our corn chips had been empty for a while, and we tracked down the warm body floating in and out of the room with no real service intent to ask for more so we could finish the cheese. The flavor of the queso was…ok, but it was very thick and stringy and as it settled the grease began to separate and the rest solidified very quickly. The queso I’m used to is like a jack cheese with milk, creamy, smooth, a hit of jalapeno. I know there will be differences in interpretation so will give leeway accordingly, but this just seemed like melted cheddar. Mains quickly arrived. The server stood there dumfounded with the food in her hands while we rearranged our make shift table and cleared dishes for her to take away. I placed the clearly empty plastic tortilla container on the arm of the couch. I almost laughed when she asked if I wanted her to take it away. She then had a spark of life as she somehow observed that we had gotten cutlery, then in true form disappeared. Somehow she missed that we still had not one drop of any beverage. So we ate. Across the board it lacked seasoning, seasoning that should be so rich a component in Mexican food. The chimichanga I assume had chicken in it, but it was sparse. The chicken I think I found in there was again under seasoned and very dry. I was expecting an identifiable amount of nice, stewed, seasoned, shredded chicken. My friend had never had Mexican food before and I was struggling to defend my stance of how wonderful it was and justify why I missed it so. I was ashamed I had so enthusiastically rushed us here for such a disappointing experience. The gentleman that greeted us, came to check in, way too little, way too late and barring an explosive response from me, we smiled and just said fine. We wrapped up quickly and I stood at the bar again, female server nowhere in sight and the gentleman behind the bar with his back to the dining room – maybe where the female server learned it. I waited, then gave in and asked if I could pay my bill. Unable or unwilling to help me himself he called for the girl who scurried out of the kitchen to take my money and off we went.
I will continue my search for good, seasoned, Mexican food and will hope and pray there is a remote resemblance of service when I finally find it and maybe even a margarita.