Random Fall Eats I
Spoon status – none
Note: the spoon is the most sensible of the eating tools, especially when eating chili gravy, refried beans, and rice, yet it has disappeared from the rolled tableware set-up all across America. I hate having to ask for a spoon, and hate it even more when they forget to bring me one; fortunately, the queso arrived with a spoon, so I hijacked that one.
I happened to dine with a friend at Dos Salsas in Georgetown (there is another location in Cedar Park) several weeks back, and found the overall experience dangerously close to the bland side of my delicious dining spectrum. Looking around at my fellow diners that fairly busy Saturday mid-afternoon might explain why; the room was crammed-full with a mix of upper-middle to upper class seniors (Sun City retirement village is relatively close by) and families with kids. This is not a crowd that would fully appreciate a properly-spiced platter of Mexican food, but Dos Salsas does claim expertise in TexMex, and they had plenty of TV sets on for the UT game (although most in the crowd were more interested in the A&M game), and my companion had described it as “not bad”.
We started with totopos and the namesake dos salsas, one a red cruda/casera and the other a boiled tomatillo. Neither had anywhere near enough chile heat for me, but the chips were thin and warm, and the salsas weren’t watery and thin, so it was a tolerable start. A rarebit of the Queso Dos Salsas ($7.99) followed, arriving as a rather bland concoction of processed cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, and beef picadillo. It was okay if you jacked it up with some of the red salsa, but it pales in comparison to the same dish served at the Texican on Manchaca Road in way south Austin. We also had a scoop of guacamole ($5.99), which was also middle-of-the-road; perfectly fine and chunky, but no redeeming qualities that made it exceptional in any way. Including more of everything in the recipe would have helped the flavor considerably, and increasing the portion size would have helped the inadequate cost-to-value ratio.
She ordered the taquito plate ($7.99), which consists of 4 small tacos, composed of carnitas, shredded brisket (the TexMex answer to barbacoa), “steak”, and “chicken”, all topped with onions and cilantro, and served with “guacamole sauce”. I had a little nibble of each of the meats and found them lackluster and under-spiced, with the chicken being overcooked. The sauce was a blander, textured version of the popular taqueria tomatillo-based salsa which is emulsified with avocado. The plate wasn’t bad by any stretch, but I’d be lying if I said it was great.
I went for their enchilada plate ($10.50), with 3 beef picadillo and cheese-filled enchiladas draped with their chili gravy, that stalwart of TexMex cuisine, a sprinkling of Longhorn cheese, and a runny fried egg on top. The filling managed to be on the dry side, which made the sparse application of the chili gravy that much more noticeable. Chili gravy is what makes the TexMex enchilada what it is, and to short-ladle the gravy is just plain criminal; we’re not talking about an expensive ingredient. In fact, it is the cheapest component of the dish. The refried beans lacked that creamy, lardy consistency we all crave, offering instead a batch of beans that looked like they have been almost-pureed with an immersion blender. The rice managed to be dry and a little tough (undercooked?) at the same time, with an oily edge that capped off the taste triumvirate.
In the menu ordering competition between her and me, I’m not sure who won. It was loud inside, and the prices were a little high, but the service was fine. Bottom line, I could probably be persuaded to go back there again, and wouldn’t be exactly kicking and screaming, but my first foray left me wanting much, much more.
Mick Vann ©