Showing posts with label quesadilla. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quesadilla. Show all posts

Maiz Revisited in 2022 (Toronto)

Sometimes tipping can be an awkward encounter… what percentage should you leave to allow you to express your gratitude, without leaving a burning hole in your pocket? It’s a custom widely found in North America, where restaurants tend to underpay staff with the promise of gratuities to make up the shortfall. Hence, when a traveller is not accustomed to the 15% - 20% North American expectations, it can create animosity between the diner and staff.

Maiz adopted a stance to alleviate this awkwardness by building in a fair wage (at least $20 an hour, according to their website) into their menu prices and removing the need for diners to tip at the end of their meal. Whether this custom is attractive to their staff, only time will tell.

To begin, Maiz runs rather leanly. During our Monday evening dinner, there were two people – one person cooking and another doing everything else (sitting people, taking orders, finishing up plates, serving, checking in on customers, and ringing check through at the end of the meal). At the same time, there weren’t too many patrons, only three tables when other restaurants in the area were closed or fully booked.

I hadn’t return since their opening years ago, my first experience with arepas and the dinner platters left me underwhelmed. Yet, their menu has really expanded along with a lightened and brightly lit dining room that makes Maiz seem more inviting.

The house made tortilla chips served with guacamole ($14.95) were amazing – thick enough for dunking but still breaks easily creating a satisfying crispiness. It’s also surprisingly un-oily for a chip that gives off such a lovely crunch. There’s enough smooth guacamole to get through most of the chips with a small side of smoky salsa roja to finish off the rest, which consequently goes nicely mixed into the moros cristianos.

Before getting into the mains, I suggest you choose wisely and order something that offers a side of the moros cristianos or soft-fried rice and beans. If it doesn’t come with it, order the side ($3.95) as it was our favourite part of the meal. The spice-laced rice is mixed with black refried beans and heated through creating a flavourful creamy mixture that’s like a thick dairy-free risotto. I liked having it solo or heaped on a crunchy tortilla, give me more!

The rice comes with the quesadillas. While the menu describes the vegetable quesadillas ($19.95) as being stuffed with soft-fried chickpeas… they weren’t soft at all. Maiz should just keep it simple and used a grilled vegetable filling instead. Heck, add in more moros cristianos … anything is better than hard chickpeas. At least it contained a decent amount of cotija cheese creating a lovely gooeyness around the chickpeas and the tortilla was well-toasted creating a crunchy crust.

I’d skip the churros ($11.95 for three), which were overly dense. A restaurant should only attempt making this dessert if they churn out enough daily to warrant creating fresh batter and having hot sizzling oil ready. Otherwise, it’s just an overly sweet chewy concoction that leaves me wanting a Tim Horton’s crueller more than a churro.

Maybe create a creamy Mexican-spiced rice pudding instead. After all, if it’s anything like the moros cristianos, the rice pudding will be fantastic.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3220 Yonge Street


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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Frontera Grill (Chicago)

Location: Chicago, USA
Address: 445 N Clark Street
Website: http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/frontera-grill/
Type of Meal: Lunch



Having arrived 10 minutes just before Frontera Grill’s opening time (11:30am), there was already a line up down the length of their patio. Luckily, the line was actually for two restaurants (Frontera Grill and its slightly more upscale sister restaurant Topolobampo) and once the doors opened patrons were sat quickly.

What makes Frontera special is their dishes made with simple fresh ingredients. Take their guacamole ($9.50), it seemed to be comprised of the bare essentials - avocado, onions and maybe some salt. Without the typical zing of lime and jalapeños the guacamole tasted surprisingly creamy and somehow richer. The accompanying chips were crispy and not oily while the subtle salsas were also good when mixed with the guacamole.



The quesadillas ($14) were chocked full of grilled chicken and Indiana jack cheese (and pretty much just that). On the side was more guacamole, thick refried beans and some dressed lettuce leaves (covered in a Parmesan-type cheese). Overall, it was a satisfying quesadilla but personally I would have liked it more if there was some stronger salsa accompanying it.



My chicken in mole amarillo ($15) was a bit timid. I imagined a rich mole stewed for hours with tons of ingredients (Oaxaca mole amarillo guajillo, tomato, tomatillo, hoja santa, corn masa was what was listed on the menu). Nonetheless, the tender pieces of smoked chicken and fennel braised in the sauce were nice, especially with the warm fresh tortillas. I jazzed it up with the red chili sauce on the table and even sprinkled some tart and peppery arugula salad in the wrap for good measure.


All in all, Frontera Grill offers traditional options that may seem a bit bland to those who grew up on Tex Mex and the crazy fusion tacos in today's restaurants. But, if you want to get back to the simpler side of things than they are the place for you.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog

____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!