Thursday, July 24, 2008
While it's only been open a couple of weeks now, Cantina Dos Segundos is making it's mark in Northern Liberties. Of course there are some kinks to work out. Even though the owners are veterans to the restaurant biz, every new restaurant deserves some time before it gets a thorough critique, so what follows should be considered a preliminary review.
We decided to start with some simple and straightforward items from the menu. The guacamole was good. Not too chunky and not too smooth, it had a nice garlicky kick and was studded with bits of cherry tomato and slices of jalapeno pepper. A pitcher of traditional margaritas on the rocks was brought to the table along with a plate of limes, a plate of salt and enough glasses for everyone. I really enjoyed the traditional margarita, it was just sour enough from fresh lime juice and just potent enough from the white tequila we chose to include.
Two bowls of salsa were served with complimentary chips. The chips were different than the ones served with the above guacamole, these were thinner and saltier. I enjoyed the green salsa more than the red (not pictured). The red was too pureed and too sweet for my taste, and while the green could have used a touch more heat to it, at least it tasted like salsa.
Tacos are available with numerous fillings to please omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. We sampled the tuna tacos. The tuna was cooked to about medium which we all appreciated, but lacked any noticeable Mexican flavor. A little cumin and cayenne could have bumped up the experience here.
We also sampled the Chicken Tinga enchiladas with a side of refried beans and rice. The beans were the star of this platter of food. Prepared in the traditional manner with bacon and lard (yes Lard!) they were silky and addictive enough that I wanted to get every last bit on my fork and in my mouth. As for the enchiladas, I felt they needed a little more flavor. For a dish that contains spicy in the name, these were far from spicy. I did enjoy the bits of potato and chorizo that came rolled inside of the white corn tortillas, but wished the flavors were more pronounced.
A small plate of ceviche was also a hit. Topped with crushed peanuts and sprinkle of cilantro, it was the most flavorful, yet balanced dish we tried.
It's hard for me to resist dessert and this night was no exception. We ordered the chocolate and banana empanadas and I'm very glad we did. Three pockets of dough were stuffed with banana and semi-sweet chocolate, then fried to perfection, dusted with powdered sugar and served with a vanilla salsa. Not greasy in the slightest, these empanadas were hot, crispy and filled with molten sweetness that is causing me to drool a little bit just remembering their taste.
I only expect that as the weeks pass the food and service will be fine tuned and provide a consistently good option for a new place to hang out with friends and enjoy some food and drink in this great neighborhood. I've had no problems with the service when I've visited this new establishment, and I think that's due to the high volume of staff from Azure that stayed on with new management.
Cantina Dos Segundos
931 N 2nd St