November 12, 2004
Las Bodegas is clearly one of the fanciest places in town; the service is attentive, the restaurant has a good wine cellar, and the building itself is splendid, but ultimately, we did not find the food as good as the meals we had at the Mesones Sacristia and La Quinta Luna.
Part of this wasn't entirely due to Las Bodegas itself -- we ate here on one of the evenings of the Day of the Dead celebrations, and the place was EMPTY. It was kind of creepy, really -- my friend Tammy and I were the only customers there, sitting in a picturesque, glassed-in arcade that, on a normal night, would have held roughly 60 customers. Somewhere behind us, in one of the restaurant's many, many dining rooms, a pianist played, which increased the sensation of weird solitude.
After adjusting to the Twilight Zone atmosphere, we perused the menu and chose our dishes. The waitstaff, for their part, took having to work on a holdiay in stride, and were cheerful and patient with my minimal Spanish.
Tammy started off with Las Bodegas' special mushroom soup (about 35 pesos), with lots of portobellos in a rich chili-spiced broth. It was something like French Onion soup, only with mushrooms in place of the onions.
Along with the soup came a basket of dry wholegrain rolls and cute pats of butter wrapped in cornusks, so that they looked like tiny tamales--one of those presentations where the sheer amount of labor that went into it makes you feel slightly guilty about acually eating the food.
We considered ordering the salt-baked red snapper, a house specialty (350 pesos for two), but found the prospect of waiting 35 minutes in the empty restaurant for it to be prepared a bit daunting. In the end, we both chose another house specialty, thin sliced steak topped with sauteed mushrooms and cheese, garnished with a small serving of refried black beans.
The steak was tender and the mushrooms fine, but Tammy and I found the thick blanket of melted cheese that covered the steak a bit too much. The quarter inch layer of salty cheese (Oxacan string cheese perhaps? It tasted a little like store bought block mozerella.) overwhelmed the taste of the mushrooms and thin slices of steak. (100 pesos).
Once we had finished eating our entrees, I ordered espresso, which was quite good. Note that an espresso in Puebla seems to be about four times the size of an American espresso, so prepare yourself for the caffine buzz.
Coffee consumed, we gladly headed through Las Bodegas admittedly charming central courtyard and back to our taxi--and civilization.
From journal Puebla, un ciudad muy linda.