Monday, July 8, 2013

Buena Vista [3/5]

Buena Vista

Looking for a quiet night out, the hubby and I headed to Buena Vista in Hampton Cove. The last time we had been to that location was several years ago when it was still a steakhouse so we were curious to see the changes.

The large steer outside had been replaced with a fountain, water cascading through a series of pots. It was the interior though which was captivating. Clusters of lighted stars and globes acted as light fixtures. Adding to the colorful cacophony were pinatas and prayer flags, strung across the high ceiling. The tables added to the happy chaos--a mix of chairs with tall wooden backs, cow hair covered barstools with woven wood bases, and booths. Loud music with Spanish lyrics and multiple TVs tuned to Spanish speaking newscasters and ESPN provided the requisite media overload.

We were seated quickly and chips appeared as we studied the menu. I was equal parts amused and resigned to see that the cheese enchiladas came with chicken on top. However, there was a small vegetarian section on the menu which (sort of) made up for it.

Buena Vista

I pleased to see that they brought out two bowls with the small pitcher of salsa, but I was a bit bemused when the salsa was so thick that it caught in the neck and refused to pour into my bowl. The tomatoey salsa had a dry heat that built as you ate. It was just a touch hot for my mild/medium preference. The accompanying chips were thin, dry and crispy. And a few of them were broken tostada and taco shells tossed in for good measure.

We eventually settled on the steak fajitas for me and the Burrito California for the hubby. During the deciding phase our server came by the table often to check on us and was prompt with refilling our drinks. There was a small gaffe when he mixed up our drinks, but I was happy to see that he replaced the incorrect drink with a fresh cup when he corrected it.

When our food came up I was astonished by the size of my husband's burrito. They don't mess around, that thing was easily twice the size of most large burritos.

Buena Vista

I realize that picture does not convey the jawdropping scale, but let me point out, that is a very large steak knife sticking out of it. The hubby made two solid meals of it.

My fajitas were equally grandoise, but since fajitas tend to run to the ridiculous, I wasn't surprised.

Buena Vista

I was, however quite taken with the tiny little tostada shell used to hold the guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo.

The steak itself (shown at the top of this post) was a bit chewy. Some pieces had caught a hold of the tomato based sauce it's flavoring, others were naked and, consequently, bland. The veggies cooked in with the steak were nice but not particularly catching. The green bell pepper was fresh, the onion sweet, the few small bits of tomatoes had been cooked until soft.

I am a notoriously serial eater, so it's not unusual that some of my food will cool down a bit before I reach it. I was a bit taken aback however, to discover that my rice and beans were completely room temperature when I reached over to sample them. Given the skin that was present on the beans even when they were first delivered, I suspect they had been sitting on a warmer in the kitchen before being brought out.

Although not particularly warm, the beans were nicely done. Most of the beans were still whole and the salt levels, which often prove challenging, were just right. The cheddar and jack cheese sprinkled on top added a nice touch of gooey, cheesy, saltiness. The rice was fairly average. A bit chewy with a light flavor and small pieces of corn, carrots, and peas.

My guacamole was a mixture of avocado and mayonnaise, which gave it a creamy texture and a mild flavor. The flour tortillas were thick,with an odd aftertaste that was almost chemically.

The hubby was happy to find that his giant burrito of doom had just the right ratio of beans to rice to everything else. However, neither of us was particularly thrilled to discover that once our food came out, we weren't checked on again and our drinks went dry.

I loved the colorful decor at Buena Vista but the food was hit or miss. The beans were great! But cold. The salsa had some heat! But the steak was chewy and lacked flavor. Service was equally spotty, being very attentive at first and leaving us wondering where our server had gone. Given the enormous number of Mexican places in town, we'll give this one a pass in the future.

Total for the meal: $30.43 (includes one fajita dinner, one California Burrito, 2 soft drinks)


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