My husband took me to Casa del Barco yesterday for Mother's Day. We'd been dying to try it, since we are huge fans of The Boathouse. But our experience was so bad, I know we'll never go back...
Let me start by saying that the restaurant is trendy and industrial inside--very cool. We were promptly greeted by a friendly hostess who didn't mind changing our table to one outside on the canal, which was nice. And that, folks, about sums up the good points about Casa del Barco.
We ordered the chips and guacamole as a starter. It took an unusually long time to arrive--about 20 minutes. In fact, everything that we ordered took a long time and the restaurant was not even busy. It was a very chunky style guacamole and it would have been delicious, but it tasted like it had no salt in it. I don't know that I've ever salted my food at a restaurant, but this guacamole was in definite need. Such a simple oversight.
I ordered the house salad. $5 for a small plate of mixed greens with some pickled onions, and a couple of pieces of cucumber and tomato. The hibiscus dressing sounded different, but it too, had absolutely no flavor. Way too much money for a plain side salad.
On to the entree...and the low point of the meal. On my waiter's recommendation, I ordered the seafood enchiladas. They were the first thing he (quite excitedly) mentioned. He said they were "chock full of scallops and shrimp with a crab queso on top." We've never been there before and I love seafood, so I took his suggestion and ordered them. We waited nearly 45 minutes for our entrees to arrive and when mine did it was served on a platter with small bowls of black beans and mexican rice. My entree was in a silver lidded bowl. The gentleman removed the lid with a flourish and I just stared. It was just a huge bowl filled with white queso sauce. I had to grab my fork, pierce the layer of "skin" that had formed over it because it had clearly been sitting for so long, and dig around to find the enchilada. When I did, I found a corn tortilla that was burned on the bottom and a few shrimp. They weren't fresh shrimp, they were those little tiny little frozen shrimp that are about the size of a quarter. Oh, with a few of the dime-sized salad shrimp thrown in. For a grand total of seven shrimp in my enchiladas. No scallops to be found. No crab in the queso. To add insult to injury, those seven shrimp were insultingly overcooked, like chewing rubber. I tried to salvage a few bites, but I there wasn't much that could be done. Who wants to fish around in a bowl of queso to pull out pieces of soaked tortilla and overcooked salad shrimp dripping in cheese sauce? Not this lady. The sides were stone cold and I even dug under the top layer to see if it got better underneath. Nope. Just cold, expensive food.
I honestly still can't believe that this entree left the kitchen with a thumbs up. It was, hands down, the most revolting thing that I have ever been served in a restaurant.
My husband ordered the hominy and empanadas and he said the hominy was pretty good. He only ate one of the empanadas.
Our waiter was friendly enough, but really inattentive. He would mention refills, then disappear for long stretches of time without them. We stopped asking for anything. He never checked on us after we began eating, asking if everything tasted ok (perhaps he could tell from the plates of uneaten food?). We also noticed that the runners from the kitchen had no idea where they were going. The three tables around us were each served food that they had not ordered, but was meant for the next table over. Quite negligent service here.
So here's the thing. What makes this entire experience so offensive is this place is really, really expensive for Mexican food. When you go to a restaurant where you pay $10 for guacamole and $15 for enchiladas, you expect that they are doing something amazing here. I'm okay paying for really good food, because food is meant to be enjoyed, but this is not the place to do that. There is no excuse for a restaurant to be charging this much for under seasoned food, stone cold food, and food that has no business being served to anyone.
The bottom line is that something is wrong at Casa del Barco. It seems like enough time has passed that the kinks should be worked out by now. But they're not. And it's not worth spending over $100 to find out if I'm wrong. Trust me, I'm not.
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