I gave this 2 stars on Yelp because of their rating system (3 stars = A-OK, 2 stars=Meh, I've experienced better). Meh that sums up La Mainche nicely. But I don't think it was bad enough to call it poor. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't good. It was just tasteless.
My brother and I went with a Groupon. Its a cute restaurant with some outdoor seating in a nice area of Sarasota called St. Armand's circle. But its not actually on the circle, its off on the side about 1/2 block down the street, so its not as nice as sitting on the circle. Anyway, the waiter was very attentive, the bartender (who I get the feeling was an owner or manager) checked on us, and the food was at least hot and served promptly.
However, the first problem occurred when we ordered tacos but wanted pork instead of steak (their pork tacos came with pineapple slices and no bacon whereas the beef ones had bacon and no pineapple). The kitchen said they'd do it, but because it was going off menu, they warned us in advance that if we don't like it, we can't send it back. Have you ever heard of a restaurant doing that? If we got something crazy, I would understand, but all we did was substitute steak for pork. Weird.
The next issue was the chips and salsa. Chips were fine. Salsa may as well have been water and red food coloring. I have never been so disappointed in a Mexican restaurant's salsa before, especially when its made in house, but this was tasteless and watery.
When our tacos came out, it was the same issue. Bland. Very very bland. We tried adding salt, pepper, even some of the weak watery salsa, but nothing. They had a refried bean dip that didn't even add a lot of taste.
The best part of the meal - far and away since it was the only part with taste - was the tortilla soup. I love tortilla soup. It was good, but even this was a bit weird. The tortillas floating in the soup reminded me more of crispy wantons you get with chinese takeout then Mexican tortillas. Tasted more like they belonged in wanton or hot and sour soup. Still, it was a tasty soup.
I'll also give the restaurant this - a LOT of their items were gluten free. We didn't need it, but its nice that they cater to their patrons with specific dietary needs. Maybe that was the problem? Does gluten add a lot of taste to things? I don't know, I've never eaten gluten free before.
In any event, I haven't eaten in many Mexican restaurants in Sarasota. I can only think of one in Lakewood Ranch on main street, but the name escapes me. In any event, that one is 1000 times better. I've also eaten at a number of Mexican places in Atlanta that are really good. This one was just bland bland bland, and expensive, too. You're better off going elsewhere. Skip this one, unless you're in the mood for some tasteless food
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