I really wanted to go and celebrate my five years of blogging and of course that meant wining and dining, as the expressions goes from my parent’s generation. This restaurant was in my old neighborhood that I have been talking about ever since I left to start my adult life after college, and I was looking forward to seeing a place that all the food critics were raving about. There were actually two things that really intrigued me about El Asador; they allow you to take your own wine or beer and they are located in my old neighborhood. I told my Bride about it and she was game for trying out a new restaurant and believe it or not, she had never been to my old stomping grounds of when I was a kid. She had an important meeting the day that I delivered the commencement speech to my old junior high school that was closing after that year. Even with all of the road construction we got there, and I guess that over the years I have still had reasons to go to the old neighborhood, so I guess I had gradually noted changes, but seeing the neighborhood through her eyes was different. I guess that since I had been talking about the neighborhood all of my life that perhaps I had allowed myself some rose-colored glasses. Thomas Wolfe was right. As we drove by looking at my old family home and at my cousin’s home and then driving by the gutted hulk that was the church my Mother attended all of her life, looking at the broken out stained glass windows the world had changed in one moment.
When we got to the restaurant that was basically across the street from another restaurant that is a fixture in the neighborhood, I kept looking at the building, but I could not remember what had previously been there, but I did admire the beautiful mural that they had commissioned to be painted on the side of the building and it was in sharp contrast to all of the graffiti-inspired “art” that has become the norm in the area. The chef/owner had worked at a couple of restaurants that we have gone to, and he is very well respected. Rather than going to the trendy areas of the Metropolitan Detroit, he was pioneering and created a Mexican Steakhouse. As soon as we were seated they brought out the standard chips and salsa, but while the chips were freshly made they were not the usual greasy ones that have become the norm and the salsa while not overly spicy had a nice flavor. We ordered the Guacamole en la Mesa and it was prepared tableside by our waitress. My Bride ordered the Mole de Gallina, which is probably what I would have ordered as I just adore a well-made Mole sauce and this was one for sure. The dish if you have never had it is a chicken breast in a sauce of sesame seeds, Chile ancho, pasilla and mulato with a hint of chocolate, peanuts and assorted spices. I didn’t order that dish, because El Asador is a Mexican Steakhouse, so I ordered the Ribeye Con Rajas, which was a char-grilled steak topped with a Poblano Pepper Green sauce and it came out perfectly cooked “medium-rare” as requested. What was kind of refreshing for a restaurant that has been discovered by “hipsters” is that the décor is not breathtaking and the dishes were not plated as most of the new places sometimes replace flavor with appearance.
When I called for reservations the young lady that answered the phone, almost immediately told me that I could bring my own beer or wine, but not liquor to the restaurant and she also suggested that I should bring a “tool” for opening whatever I was going to have with dinner, and that they have glasses. I asked my Bride if she would prefer a Malbec or something from Cain to celebrate with, and she wanted a Malbec. I thought it was a good call since the Malbec has natural spiciness and I like it with spicy dishes and with steaks as well. The wine I chose was a Heller Estate Malbec 2011 from the Carmel Valley, California. We have actually gone to the winery twice and they were not even offering Malbec wines when we were there, so I guess we are overdue for a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea once more. In fact, the leather bag that I use to transport wines around was bought on our first trip to Carmel. As for the wine, 2011 was a rather dicey year for the whole Monterey region, but right from the first sip, this was a delightful wine. The color and the nose both impressed me immediately and it had aged and mellowed perfectly when we opened it. The only sad thing is that I no longer have any more of the 2011, but I have some more Heller Estate Malbec resting at the moment. I guess the next celebration that we have, will not be back in the old neighborhood, but I am sure that I will still find occasions to return on my own.