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Bubba

Apr 12, 2007, 11:45 AM

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Manuel´s Restaurant

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I just checked out the new Itlaian bistro style restaurant in Plaza Montaña in central Ajijic and a fine looking place it is. They have a daily menu which looks excellent featuring homemade pasta and main courses such as today´s seared ahi tuna and game hens. I read that the owner/chef is one Manuel Arrenda from Puerto Vallarta who is reputed to be an excellent chef. They have an extensive wine list although I didn´t review it.

This is the kind of place one would expect to find in San Francisco or Seattle - not at Lake Chapala - but it should make a great addition to the community. I wish them luck. This town needs this kind of restaurant.

I must try it ASAP.



Linda in Morelia

Apr 12, 2007, 7:04 PM

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Re: [Bubba] Manuel´s Restaurant

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We'd love a report when you try it, Bubba. We'll be in Ajijic early June and would love to eat at any new and wonderful restaurants.

Linda


Bloviator

Apr 13, 2007, 4:36 AM

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Re: [Bubba] Manuel´s Restaurant

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I assume that by "this type of restaurant" Bubba is referring to quality, not type. The town is awash in Italian restaurants of all sizes and quality.


Bubba

Apr 13, 2007, 7:34 AM

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Re: [dlyman6500] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Jim & Linda:

unfortunately, I will be unable to try this place before June at least as I´m off to Chiapas. There should be some reviews here by others.

Yes, Dlyman, the town is full of mediocre Italian restaurants for some reason. Manuel´s is the first of its kind but that doesn´t mean the food will be good. I do like his style however as it reminds me of the Italian bistro style so prevalent in towns like San Francisco, L.A. and Seattle. We´ll see if the food meets those same standards.

I must admit to being married to a French woman and the French, who stole and improved Italian cuisine, are not big fans of Italian food as prepared by Italians or their imitators. Most of the Italian food here and in San Crisatóbal (with the exception of some very good pizza joints) is bland and uninteresting in our judgment but to each his own. I´m hoping Manuel will change that.


jaybear

Apr 13, 2007, 2:05 PM

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Re: [Bubba] Manuel´s Restaurant

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There are NEVER too many Italian restaurants to my way of thinking. Bubba, have you tried the relatively new Ristorante de Millia (sp?) on the west end of Ajijic? I think their food is very good if you like the Northern Italian style; don't expect a lot of red sauce. Erik Hansen who owns the restaurant is intent on delivering an upscale dining experience. They have quite an extensive menu which I am gradually working thru. It is almost as good as being back in Florence (Italy not Alabama). This is not a highly spicy cuisine, but it is very delightful--try the salmon and spinach roulade (cold, rolled like a jellyroll and served with sweetened cream, OR the rabbit with a heavy tomato/olive sauce, OR the sheets of fresh pasta with a pistachio & basil sauce. And La Taverna on the other corner is always a favorite, especially for veal; they offer some very creative dishes also. I just hope both of these restaurants continue to prosper.

By the way, I don't have a financial interest in either of these places unless you count the money we have dropped on food there.
"Don't believe everything you think" - Maxine

JayBear



wendy devlin

Apr 13, 2007, 3:04 PM

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Re: [jaybear] Manuel´s Restaurant

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¡Buena suerte, manuelito!

Have zero opinion on Manuel's Restaurant even though, hoping against hope that his cuisine pleases.... infinite.... future patrons.


Which reminds of a past BBC TV series where reknown chef, Floyd, visits and cook among locals in remote parts of the Britain, including Brittany.

Floyd is cooking up a storm, on barges on the Thames.
Mud flats of Ireland. Lowlands. Highlands. Even(gasp, how daring!)
An all men's choir in Wales on top of a mountain.

Then in one especially memorable episode, Floyd cooks in a French woman's B & B in Brittany.

OMGG!!!!!!!!

Intrepid Floyd is trying to cook an omelette in the style of the region.

oh! no! no! No! He is doing it 'all wrong' !

The farm woman wrestles the frying pan from his grasp...and banishes Floyd forever!!!!!! from her kitchen.

Soon after, everyone, her clients, Floyd, the camera crew, sit down to eat a hearty country breakfast.


(This post was edited by wendy devlin on Apr 13, 2007, 3:10 PM)


jaybear

Apr 14, 2007, 6:06 AM

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Re: [wendy devlin] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Wendy, no wonder they hit him if he was in Brittany and thought it was part of Britain;) Perhaps he was being hit by those native fishermen's wives in the big white hats and thought it was nuns in wimples? Just having fun--I love those Brit comedies, too!
"Don't believe everything you think" - Maxine

JayBear



bfwpdx

Apr 14, 2007, 7:18 AM

Post #8 of 36 (7281 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Wendy, just recently (like sometime in the last year) I just happened to channel-flip and I saw a brief moment of a current Floyd throwing food around somewhere in the outback of Australia. He seemed just as manic and crazed as ever. Love those Brits!


skelleyhoutex

Apr 14, 2007, 2:51 PM

Post #9 of 36 (7233 views)

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Re: [bfwpdx] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Five of us ate at Manuels last night. It was a busy night - full and everyone came at 7:00. Consequently, we were still waiting to be served a little after 8:00. We had had a complimentary appetizer and several glasses of wine. One couple with us left but we waited it out and were we glad. My husband had the oxtail ravioli and I had the shrimp risotto. Both were excellent. Also, we were served two desserts with the chef's compliments. All this at no charge - because of the wait - and we got a coupon for 500 pesos. This was the first night they were full so we cut them a bit of slack and had a very nice evening!!!!


dreamaines

Apr 19, 2007, 4:48 AM

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Re: [skelleyhoutex] Manuel´s Restaurant

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I had lunch at Manuel's yesterday and the food was excellent......Risotto for me and fettucini for my friend. We were also comped a beautiful and tasty appetizer of sea bass. I will definitely go back when I want to treat myself but found the prices a bit steep for my budget (for lunch).


ksofka

Apr 19, 2007, 7:19 PM

Post #11 of 36 (7048 views)

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Re: [dreamaines] Manuel´s Restaurant

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We had one of the best meals we have EVER had -- anywhere. We tried the tasting menu and we were overwhelmed at the quality, presentation, creativity, etc. Did I mention quality? Amazing! Expensive by Lakeside standards but bargain basement for the quality anywhere else in the world -- only 1/3 of the cost of Thomas Keller at the French Laundry and maybe a little bit less exotic but as carefully prepared. I ate at Keller's new restaurant, Bouchon in Las Vegas and it was disappointing -- particularly compared to Manuel's. Still not cheap by Ajijic standards -- but what a celebration we had.

We ate a small amount of everything on the menu -- we were gordos. I'm know that Manuel and staff can explain these items better than I -- but it was my wife's birthday and we imbibed a bit and I didn't take notes so the jist is here but I can't vouch for the exact order or precise descriptions and I am making NO effort to describe the subtlety of the flavors and the control and perfection of the preparation.

We started with an amuse bouche of perfectly cooked tempura shrimp with a fruit compote and a soy reduction. Interestingly, many of the flavors in the rest of the meal were hinted at in the amuse.

Then we had a clear consume with a few vegetables and home made bread after that a small salad that included avocado and blanched vegetables followed by a black and white sesame encrusted and very rare ahi tuna -- perfect! By this point, we had consumed an entire bottle of a nice French Chardonnay (more that we normally consume in a couple of weeks but what the heck) so, since we were switching to meats, we were offered a French Burgundy and that was poured freely through the remainder of the entrees. But first we we offered a raspberry granita that was a perfect palate cleanser not powerfully flavored and not sugary.

Next was a risotto with a beef ragu (Of all the dishes, this one was the only ne that fell a bit short of perfection. The risotto was a bit past al dente -- still better than most I have had and the flavors were like a symphony.) Next, we had polenta with pork tenderloin. Just when I thought that I couldn't eat any more we had one of the best desserts that I have tasted. A pear poached in an Italian wine -- I don't recall the name but it is not one I am familiar with they said that it was a red but the pear was not stained so it must have been poached skin-on. The pear was then stuffed with all kinds of good things like Gorgonzola, pine nuts and, as I recall organic plums. It was then baked in a filo crust and served with home-made cajeta ice cream.

Wine service was changed at the start of dessert and we were offered a sparkling raspberry wine that was delightful, light and fruity. At this point, we thought that we were finished when the waiter told us there would be one more course! We were served on of the best prepared Italian sabayon that I have ever tasted. I am a big fan and try it wherever I see it. Usually it is a bit of a disappointment but when it is good -- well it is times like that that creme brulee is a poor cousin.

All in all we had to keep pinching ourselves to remind us that we were still in Ajijic and not in NYC - Chicago - San Francisco or L.A. Truly world class.

Obviously, the room leaves some to be desired in terms of ambiance but it is fun to watch the Chef between courses. I have rarely seen a Chef so calm and focused. The well trained and friendly staff told us that some additional decorating and ultimately new digs are the goal.

I have no idea about whether Ajijic can support this -- but I hope so.


Bubba

Apr 19, 2007, 8:38 PM

Post #12 of 36 (7036 views)

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Re: [ksofka] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Just what I expected ksofka. I am extremely pleased to read your review and can´t wait to try Manuel´s when I return from Chiapas in June. Do not allow them to go out of business before then. I have been fearful that cuisine of this calibre presented in Ajijic was akin to selling foie gras in a trailer park but maybe there are more discerning diners like you around here than I thought. I have had others I trust also rave about this place. I can´t wait to try it.


ksofka

Apr 20, 2007, 7:20 AM

Post #13 of 36 (7004 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Manuel´s Restaurant

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I do like your metaphor, a foodie version of pearls before swine. In this case goose before prefabricated housing. Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue... Manuel's is a foodie experience and as such will not interest everyone. All I can say to non-foodies is find a special occasion and go celebrate. Like fine music a great meal can be remembered forever. I really hope that he can keep it going. He and his wife seem very determined. Unless you're in Chiapas for months I think that you get to eat there without risking missing it.

I'm not sure that expats can keep it going by themselves -- there is certainly enough money in GDL but I suppose that my biggest concern is that I don't know if he can catch on as a DESTINATION for Tapatios. From what I have eaten in GDL and read on other foodie sites, the consensus is that this caliber of food is not currently available in GDL and is not sought. Clubs and Restaurants are instead a place to see and be seen. Leading to the theme park quality of places like Santo Coyote. I grew up in Chicago where this was true for the longest time and a GREAT restaurant was one where the salads were crisp and your steak was cooked exactly the way you wanted it. (There were some exceptions but not many and restaurant progress was static for quite a while. NYC let the current surge and Chicago trailed by a few years. I understand that a similar surge is occurring in D.F. now -- so maybe this is GDL's leading indicator.) Of course Chicago had wonderful ethnic restaurants that were like visiting Mom's house if Mom was Korean or Chinese or Polish or Italian or... I may value these kinds of places as higher on my list in terms of day to day quality of life. Fortunately, both Ajijic and GDL have many of these Mom and Pop places -- although serving only Mexican food.

I'd open a vein for some killer Thai food... But that is a story for another time. I suspect a direct correlation between opposition to immigration and dislike of food. Enjoy Chiapas and tell us about it when you return.


jimindetroit

Apr 20, 2007, 10:39 AM

Post #14 of 36 (6976 views)

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Re: [ksofka] Manuel´s Restaurant

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How about an Ed Debevic's of Chicago in Ajijic? That would drive Johanson and Bubba wild! For those not familiar with the place, it's a great burger joint and soda fountain with surly waitresses in poodle skirts.


mkdutch

Apr 20, 2007, 10:49 AM

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Re: [ksofka] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Just a suggestion, ksofka (& Bubba), that you add Las Vegas to your list of foodie destinations. It is offering serious competition, both in quality and quantity of culinary alternatives, to New York and traditional international cities known for their cuisine. And for the benefit of we locals who can't afford to regularly visit their shrines, they are spinning off talented employees who are opening up their own places with offerings at more reasonable prices. So the Buffet Capital of the World is fast gaining a rep for a rising overall level of restaurant quality. 'Course, if you insist on a Name Chef, Emeril has two locations (his fish house in MGM Grand is great) and Wolfgang Puck has 5 (and counting). Lots of choices, and they keep on growing...............Dutch


ksofka

Apr 20, 2007, 11:08 AM

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Re: [jimindetroit] Manuel�s Restaurant

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I remember E.D.'s but haven't lived in Chi in so many years -- since the mid-seventies. I visited often since I have family and friends there. My favorite from my student days was the "Gentleman's" buffet at the Berghof. As an actual starving art student, I could push a few dollars over the counter and come away with some tasty solid fare washed down with a nice dark beer. Edible inexpensive food in the loop was hard to come by so this really hit the spot.

A bit of history (yawn). This really was a Gentleman's buffet. Women were not allowed and a sign used to say so. The first Feminist invasion occurred early in the Seventies and was so serious a breech that it made the evening news. I would intentionally take women friends just to watch the staff reaction. This really offended them--I'm sure my long-haired hippie art student look had nothing to do with it...

Another favorite was Sammy's on North Ave. with the upside down sign. Real Chi style hot dogs and Polish sausage. Best eaten late at night when you aren't seeing too well. I usually brought this feast to the all night movies -- double bills starting at Midnight -- generally showing obscure European movies.

I still love Chi -- but most of the time way too cold for my taste.


Bubba

Apr 20, 2007, 11:18 AM

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Re: [ksofka] Manuel´s Restaurant

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From what I have eaten in GDL and read on other foodie sites, the consensus is that this caliber of food is not currently available in GDL and is not sought. Clubs and Restaurants are instead a place to see and be seen. Leading to the theme park quality of places like Santo Coyote.

That has been largely my experience in Guadalajara but I understand from a friend who lives there that this is changing and she has been excited about recent openings. I remember that L.A. was that way in the 60s when I first moved there as well. L.A. and urban Southern California in general was big on theme restaurants in those days. A great restaurant in L.A. cooked the steak the way you ordered it and served an iceburg lettuce salad with the flowered radish, a cherry tomato and one Italian style pepper. The salad had to be ice cold and served with blue cheese dressing and spiced up with black pepper from a huge pepper mill whipped out and operated by the waiter with panache. All the restaurants were dark and had naugahyde booths with the webbed candle holders. Really good restaurants served "free" relish trays with salami and cherry peppers to go with your pre-dinner booze while you perused the plastic coated wine list (courtesy of Ernest Gallo) offering burgundy, chablis and rose or, if you were a big spender, Mateus Portuguese Rose. Really, really fancy restaurants would flame your steak Diane or Chateaubriand at the table. For a South Alabama boy used to "meat and three" restaurants and just moved to the land of Nanette Funicello, Beach Blanket Bingo and Wine and Wink , this was heaven. In those days, by the way, al fresco dining was illegal as city ordinances forbad restaurants to serve outdoors for health reasons. Imagine that - illegal to serve outdoors in Southern California of all places.

Well we all change as time goes by and L.A. changed tremendously starting in the 70s and the city is a great restaurant town now. There is hope for Guadalajara as well but we shall see. As for Ajijic - the jury´s out. You put into words what I have been trying to say. I don´t think this town is up to Manuel´s standards in the long run but I sure hope I´m wrong.

My wife, who is insane for great Thai food thinks she may have found just that in San Cristóbal but don´t open a vein yet. Further dedicated research is required and I am up to that task.


Gringal

Apr 20, 2007, 11:33 AM

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Re: [Bubba] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Thanks for a little slice of L.A. nostalgia. I fondly remember my senior prom date taking me to Lawry's, with the big iceberg salad and the thick steak.

When I read something a few postings back on this thread, I had a short panic attack. I thought maybe I was still living in San Miguel de Allende, and all that moving trauma was for naught. (What a job!) Pate in trailer land? Pearls before swine? And gawdhelpus, "foodies"??? Puleeze folks. Good taste and a fat budget are not always joined at the hip. If prices at the new restaurant are even a third of those at the French Laundry, it will eliminate most retired folks in this town, whether or not they would appreciate the cuisine. Those corporate-paid upscale lunches are nothing but a fond memory once the corporation is history.


Bubba

Apr 20, 2007, 12:41 PM

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Re: [Gringal] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Thanks for a little slice of L.A. nostalgia. I fondly remember my senior prom date taking me to Lawry's, with the big iceberg salad and the thick steak.

Well, Gringal, I hope you delivered after that. Lawry´s was the ultimate date restaurant and deserving of at least some concessions later in the evening - especially on prom night.

I think you may have misread the post about The French Laundry and I promise you that Manuel´s prices will not be a third of the prices at the French Laundry. I would guess that a typical dinner at the French Laundry for you and me, Gringal, with one bottle of wine, would set us back about $500USD and that would be only if we could get in. You are lucky, however, as Thomas Keller was a banking customer of mine when I practiced that trade in St. Helena and a wine customer of my wife´s so we can get you in with a month´s notice. I´ll get us in if you pay.

I have eaten at The French Laundry but, as you say, I wasn´t paying for it, the Bronfmans were paying for it while they still owned Seagrams. The only thing better than dinner at The French Laundry is a free dinner at The French Laundry. Then on the other hand, it wasn´t really free now was it? Just ask Wolfowitz´ girlfriend about the ultimate price of those corporate percs.

I will say that the food was pretty good.

You´re right about one thing. Good taste and a fat budget are not always joined at the hip. Otherwise, why would anyone with over three dollars live in Texas?

Yours truly did not and does not use the word "foodie" so sling you arrows with more care. I did, however speak of selling foie gras in a trailer park because I thought pearls before swine was too insulting. Manuel is in danger of over-estimating the sophistication of his new market after Puerto Vallarta. Several restaurateurs have done that since I arrived here six years ago and have failed miserably within short order. This is a cheap, misplaced midwestern corn fed hick town. Many clients will be appalled at the meager servings and high (for Ajijic) prices. I hope to God Manuel plans to give these people all the sweet tea refills they can drink or his "ethereal" tuna appetizers will be for naught.

You earlier stated that you were moving here because of San Miguel´s altitude not its attitude but now you are concerned this might be another San Miguel. Well, it´s not. Housing here is much cheaper. Otherwise, welcome home to San Miguel with brogans.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Apr 20, 2007, 2:33 PM)


sfmacaws


Apr 20, 2007, 1:09 PM

Post #20 of 36 (6941 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Manuel´s Restaurant

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Quote
I did, however speak of selling foie gras in a trailer park because I thought pearls before swine was too insulting.


You know, since you had yourself a temporary trailer park in your own front yard just a week or so ago, you might want to reconsider that as the ultimate insult. Anyway, I love a little liverworst with hot mustard and isn't that just better tasting foie gras?


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




ksofka

Apr 20, 2007, 1:46 PM

Post #21 of 36 (6935 views)

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Re: [Gringal] Manuel�s Restaurant

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No one stated that good taste and fat budget are joined at the hip. I used the word foodie as shorthand but foodie to me is finding pleasure in all well prepared food. My mother is 1st generation Sicilian from Monreale. She taught me how to cook and how to eat. I would apply the word foodie to anyone who can enjoy a slice of Jicama with limon and pimenta or well made tacos or carne en su jugo or any number of simple or complex foods. On of my favorites growing up was when my mother or grandmother would bake bread-I only had to wait for Saturdays. One loaf would be dedicated to Saturday lunch. This was the coarse grained heavy crusted sesame covered Italian bread that you can't find anywhere except home. This would be sliced in half lengthwise drizzled with olive oil, a little chopped fresh basil and a dash of Parmesan and maybe a grind of black pepper or some garden fresh tomato. Then a quick run under the broiler. Foodie, foodie foodie.

Regarding fat budgets and good food, I would further say that because of expectations, I have more often been disappointed by the high rather then the low end of this cost spectrum. However I like a lot of range in my life so I'm excited by the presence of a Chef in Ajijic. And yes, the tasting menu is about $600.00NP. The French Laundry is about $190USD for a tasting menu so math being what it is... You can certainly eat at Manuel's for less by choosing a single entree. We were celebrating. So I don't want to scare anyone off. I think even though the prices are higher than typical for Ajijic, the price/quality ratio is very good.

I haven't been to Keller's but have prepared some things from his cookbook. (I think that some of Keller's desire for perfectionism boarders on fascism or maybe OCD) Typically, cooking for myself and friends is my usual route to tasting the higher end meals.

BTW Bubba, you so perfectly described American eating with your LA food description. A really admirable writing job. It really evoked the time and place. One of my favorite variants of the iceberg/bleu cheese salad is served at Izzey's a long-standing San Fran steak house. They have deconstructed (I only use this word to get Gringal's cabra) the classic iceberg salad. In this case it is half a head of romaine -- drizzled with a good olive oil sprinkled with small pieces of bleu cheese and some small tangy bits that I thought at first were nuts but turned out to be 1/8 inch dice onion soaked overnight in basalmic. A really nice set of flavors and very easy to make.


NEOhio1


Apr 20, 2007, 1:58 PM

Post #22 of 36 (6930 views)

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Manuels Restaurant - we'll go again

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We had lunch at Manuels shortly after it opened. It was fabulous and relatively expensive - total $490NP, no alcohol. We started out 3, but a friend walking by happened in at the entree stage. The kinks were being worked out so service was long, but the freebie tastes were plentiful, and preparation of our food must have been nightmareish for him because we all choose something different for each course so we could share - its a midwestern thing. We will go again, but recognize we will have to suggest it to certain friends keeping in mind everybody's budget is different. The tasting menu is next. The bus action in front might be a problem for some people - lots of dust and fumes every 5 minute or so. Didn't bother me but I don't think things like that are worth thinking too much about...can't change it, just don't go mid-day.

Jonna, if I'd known about the liverwurst we'd spread it out - also had herring in cream and onions....yuuummmm. The other half doesn't appreciate those.


ksofka

Apr 20, 2007, 2:07 PM

Post #23 of 36 (6927 views)

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Re: [mkdutch] Manuel�s Restaurant

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I make the occasional run to "lost wages" for work. I don't gamble (You know the saying that gambling is a tax on the math impaired?) and usually grate my teeth at the "shows" so eating is usually what remains after work. Unfortunately, we are usually so busy that this consists of room service. Not bad if you're on an expense account -- "I'll have sixty dollars worth of breakfast please." I did eat at Bouchon and Aqua last trip. Bouchon's food was not astonishing or even mildly exciting and part my disappointment were the poorly trained and uninformed staff. A good meal clumsily presented with dishes out of order is more than a distraction. At the risk of causing great controversy I think that the average waitperson here in Ajijic has a much better understanding of how to do their job and possess a higher degree of professionalism than I find in the US at all but the best restaurants and sometimes as above not even the "best" restaurants.

Aqua was a different story. A wonderful meal start to finish. Sadly, it is apparently no more. It is now called Michael Mina and has been redone to be "a more comfortable" place to eat. Does this mean flip-flops with or without a tie? Oh well.

Do you have some suggestions for LV as we will be making another run up in a few months? I'd love to hear. Thanks


ksofka

Apr 20, 2007, 2:12 PM

Post #24 of 36 (6924 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Manuel�s Restaurant

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Jonna "temporary trailer park in your own front yard" you've got to admire someone who can include himself in the insult.

I prefer my liverwurst with slabs of raw onion on pumpernickel. ; )



Bubba

Apr 20, 2007, 2:52 PM

Post #25 of 36 (6907 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Manuel´s Restaurant

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You know, since you had yourself a temporary trailer park in your own front yard just a week or so ago, you might want to reconsider that as the ultimate insult.

Jonna tricked me into letting her park La Tortuga, her mobile estate, in front of my imposing maison for a few nights by bribing me with rutabagas from the far Nawth (impossible to find at lake Chapala) and a couple of bags of Calloway Gardens Speckled Heart Stone Ground Enriched Grits from Georgia. I. as a noted gourmet, of course disdain these pedestrian redneck foods but I have to humor her as she was a sheriff´s deputy in San Franciso at the same time I lived there and claims to have some pictures of me haunting a couple of S&M bars down in Polk Gulch when Brigitte was on the road. Damn!

Oh well, I get the last laugh. Unbeknownst to her and Mimi, I had the Chapala assessor come by and reduce the assessed value of my splendid home because of recently arrived riff raff parking on the street.

A win-win situation for all.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Apr 20, 2007, 2:57 PM)
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