Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hole-y Mole-y

Hole-y Mole-y is what I'd like to call this restaurant. Why? First of all, the name of the Restaurant is Mole, not pronounced "Mol", but pronounced "Mo-Leah", hence the Mole-y. Secondly, or lastly, as you walk into the restaurant, its almost cavernous, burrow-like, small, quaint, or what I'd like to say appears like a hole-in-the wall. Not hole-in-the-wall in terms of prices, but purely because of its small size. I think the restaurant fits a maximum of 25 people (and that includes the seats at the mini-bar) and you are close enough to participate in your neighbor's conversations (like we eventually did). Um, yeah, if you're looking for a private place to have a conversation - this is not it -- its not a big place! And now, put the words together - "Hole-y Mole-y" is my reaction to a lot of things I tried here.

So welcome to Mole Mexican Bar & Grill on 205 Allen Street (between Houston and Stanton). Apparently the owners of this restaurant also own Taco Taco on the Upper East Side. So what did we try here? We wanted to try everything, but unfortunately our stomachs and wallets would not allow us to! However, the first thing I noticed on the menu was the extensive number of entrees/dishes on the menu. I mean, WOW, for a place that only seats 25, the menu certainly packed a punch! There is a wide selection of appetizers, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, tortas, and house specials. I was even surprised to see Chimichanga on the menu (ahh, mouth watering).

A friend and I ordered the Baja Fish Tacos, the Chile Relleno and Guacamole & Chips. We also started off with a few beverages -- a regular margarita (they also offer flavored ones with fruit purees) and Negra Modelo. The salt on the margarita was somewhat flavored - it wasn't just straight salt -- it reminded me of that seasoning on the Mexican dried candy - whatever the name, it was tasty! The Negra Modelo was on tap! I haven't seen that, well, EVER. So that was a nice pleasant surprise to get that on tap -- and it was GoOd, sooo GoOd!

ignore the photo quality of these photos - very low light and only had my point & shoot camera.

First, the table-side fresh guac-a-moley. They asked us how spicy we wanted it and we decided with medium. WOW, medium was not mild, it was a FIRE-Y HOT HOT HOT. My friend loved it since he secretly wanted it HOT, but I on the other hand, had to wash my mouth out with water. HOWEVER, water doesn't help - in fact it just swishes the hotness all-around. So, I filled my mouth with the pink radishes and the chips. After a few tears and a few coughs, I was ready to try again thinking it was just that one dip. Stupid. Stupid. The second time around was just as hot! HOLEY MOLEY! So buyer beware -- medium is HOT! So, though I can't rank this food item - my friend said it was delicious (go figure!). If I would rank it (trying to ignore the spice), I would say it was average guacamole. The chips were great though - on the thicker side and very crispy! The guacamole was not made at our table (how could they since there was no room at our table) NOTE: they will serve you a large if you don't specify the size you want -- Large is $14; Small is $9.

The Baja Fish Tacos were LARGE (holey moley!). Mole does not kid around with their portion sizes. All three of the blue corn tortillas were overflowing with deep-fried fish, lettuce and avocado slices. I had to take some fish out of the taco in order to eat it -- but it was oh so good! If you're wondering what fish they use, its flounder. In addition, the tacos come with its own special dipping sauces -- chipotle and jalapeno! And just when I thought I was out of the spicy-phase of the meal, I was hit again with a jolt of spice. But, good thing I tasted the sauce before I added it to the taco (see, I learned!). The taco itself doesn't need the sauce, but I preferred it with a little something to offset the batter from the fish -- so I applied some of the tomato sauce from our Chile Relleno dish -- and it made the dish incredible! You can ask the waiter for a non-spicy sauce and you will end up with the salsa. Perhaps, they should offer this dish with the Chile Relleno sauce - that would be a great pairing! My friend, who is also from California, and who loves Fish Tacos recommends this dish highly because its a good representation of California Fish Tacos. Dish was $17 - a bit pricey, but after getting the dish, you will understand why its $17 -- you get a whole lot of fish!

Chiles Relleno. I loved this dish. I loved the sauce, I loved the peppers, and I loved the queso fresco (aka fresh cheese). What more, I loved how the sauce was not spicy, but sweet. I have to admit, its my first time eating this type of chile relleno, and I'm a big fan (hope its not because I was turned off with all the spicy foods earlier -- but it really did put a smile on my face!).

The dish comes with two chiles rellenos and cost $16.

Note: Our "neighbors" -- the table next to us, had also ordered the Fish Tacos and loved it. They also ordered Shrimp Tacos and found it extremely spicy (even after they had previously requested it to be not spicy). They sent the dish back and without much hassle, they received another order of Shrimp Tacos, without the "heat". Our neighbor enjoyed the dish thoroughly.

Though there is more to try at this restaurant (we only had a chance to taste two dishes), of the two dishes we tried, it gave us a good idea of what would be expected out of the other dishes -- a lot of flavor and spice! If you don't mind the spice, this is a great place for you; if you like the authentic Mexican flavors, this is a good place to try out as well.

The negatives
- limited space, not much ambiance, very spicy foods, comparable to moderately pricier dishes than other Mexican restaurants in the city (Rosa Mexicana, Dos Caminos and to a certain extent Mexicana Mama (or its sister, Mexicana Mama).

The positives -- good portions (but perhaps this is factored in the price), great flavors, comparable foods to California, extensive list of dishes and tequila to try.

Happy Eating!

Mole Mexican Bar & Grill
205 Allen Street )Between Houston and Stanton)
(212) 777-3200

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