Friday, July 3, 2009

Taking It To The Bank

The Bank of Mexican Food in Temecula is the site of a former bank from the early 20th century. Built in 1913, or there abouts, of solid concrete, 18" thick walls, possessing all the charm of something really,really old by California standards, it is also the site of the first bank robbery in Riverside County.

This place has some more recent history as well, being the site of a fist fight between patrons that resulted in death a couple years ago. I guess that's what happens what beered-up assholes decide the off duty cop is a easy target.

For years I've heard of the great('best in town' say some) Mexican food served here, but since I avoid crowds and rowdy bar patrons, I never bothered to venture in for a bite.
Curiosity won the day today, so I gave this place a fair shot.

Walking through the door, seeing several empty tables, and still having to wait a few minutes to be seated got the whole experience off to a less than favorable start.
Longer still was the wait before somebody saw fit to bring me a menu.

Three times they tried to foist upon me a bowl of chips and salsa (which I have no use for). Hey, how 'bout a menu?
Finally, I got a menu.
A fast look, then I folded up the menu and pushed it aside.
Several more minutes before somebody came around to take my order: three chile rellenos, a la carte.
Still no drink, because nobody yet offered me one. No glass of water,either.Finally, an offer, and then several minutes later, a Diet Coke.

The wait time from order to food arrival wasn't bad. At least they got that part down. But still no flatware. I had to wait for that,too.

Enough flogging of the staff. To their credit, whenever someone did happen across my table, they seemed genuinely happy to see me. Maybe they were just surprised.

Time to trash the food.

Chile relleno generally have an enchilada-type sauce poured over them. Not here.
It looked more like a chunky stew of chopped tomatoes, onions, bell pepper and some ground up black flakes of indiscernible origin. This chunky stew of glop came out of can. It was obvious. And tasted like it.

Beneath the manufactured glop, somewhere, were my chile relleno. I had to dig for them.
The egg batter coating had a fluffy, soufle-like, baked texture. Not the fried texture, with just a whisp of crispy around the edges, that is typical.
The cheese was bland and flat, with a texture of plasticity, as opposed to the slight stringiness one would expect from freshly melted cheese.

I strongly suspect these rellenos were previously frozen, as opposed to freshly made.
And then maybe reheated in a microwave, before somebody opened the can and poured chunky tomato-vegetable stew over them?

Overall: bland. The sauce should compliment the relleno, but in this case it just overpowered it. And not even in a good way. Shock and Aweful, cantina style.

Next time, I'll go to Rosa's Cantina across the street. It's much better. And I can safely say that without ever having been to Rosa's Cantina before.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your use of the First Amendment. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

However, just to set the record straight. Everything we offer is freshly made and we don't even have a microwave in the building.

We have a choice of 3 delicious toppings of which I myself can't stand one of them, but we keep it on the menu because some customers would kill me if I took it off.

The recipes we use came form a small town about 45 minutes out of Mexico City. Not TJ or even Baja. (More commonly known Mexican food in California).

As for the service, Shit happens. I apologize my staff didn't get it right this time. What you describe is far outside our normal procedure.

In the end, I know in my heart it's a great place. I hear it from people all the time. And business is up 300% in the 2.5 years we've owned it. Not bad for a couple of amatures in a crappy economy.

As for Rosa's. Maybe you'll enjoy that food more. I personally like it too. When I am in a hurry and I don't want to sit down and be served, I'm perfectly willing to belly up to the counter and order a Carne Asada Burrito. My favorite at Rosa's.

Tell Mike I said hello!

Happy Independence Day!

The Banker

kingdavid said...

Sounds like there are better Mexican restaurants in Buffalo Minnesota. There are two, as well as a Taco Johns, and we like them both. Not being an expert in Mexican cuisine, I'm not sure if they're cooking stuff right or not; but every time we've gone in we've enjoyed the food, and the service has been outstanding.

Now, we just need to get a good Polish restaurant. MM and I should start one. I'll do the cooking. All we'll need is a good polka band to add some ambience.

Gino said...

hi banker,

ultimately, the reciepts speak louder than one dude with a blog page, so you are doing something right and i wish you well.

also, i appreciate your comments and your willingness to stand up to defend your endeavor.
i'll take this into consideration next time i'm hungry and in old town and will stop in to try your place again.
maybe the enchiladas?

btw: and i dont know who mike is.

Mark Heuring said...


You have a future in the restaurant review business! Nicely done, good sir! Got your message earlier but have been out of pocket today -- will try to call you tomorrow.

And now, we turn the format over to my (much) better half!

Hi Gino,

This is Mrs. D. I'm sorry that your meal was shock and awful instead of shock and awe.

Remind me not to cook dinner for you next time you are here in MN :)

Have a great holiday weekend!

RW said...

"shit happens" in my restaurant. Not something every restaurant owner would say. lol.

Lots of people liked the Nazis too, that didn't make them great. Instead of getting all defensive about it maybe the banker should improve the shit that happens in his restaurant, ya think?

Gino said...

hi mrs D.
i think you must be a swell cook. how else does mark keep that positive outlook all the time?

RW: i'm just glad shit didnt happen on my plate.
i'm thinking of returning for enchiladas. it may be a must:the wife wants to go there, but she wasnt with me last nite.

Anonymous said...

Okay now wait a minute here..."Shit happens" is just a figure of speech. It doesn't actually ever "Happen" in my restaurant. And certainly not on your plate.

I was sincere in my response to Gino's experience and hope he will come back and give us another try. I'll even buy the first beer, and thank you, I'll have one too.

The thing about "shit happening"...find me any one thing on this planet that involves the human race that runs perfectly ever step of the way...I'll be the first investor.

And Gino...Mike is the Rosa's wife over at Rosa's Cantina. Nice people.

Have a great day.

The Banker!

Anonymous said...

Just read my error.

Mike is Rosa's husband at Rosa's Cantina.

Gino said...

ok, banker.
now you've convinced me.
i WILL give your place another shot.

like i said: i appreciate your willingness to defend your endeavor and explain why your food is different than the rest. i'll take that into consideration.

and you seem like a decent enough guy.