July 19, 2014

I really try to wait out new restaurants for a while before visiting but the 20+ glowing reviews of MULA lured me in early... Unfortunately. And now, as I sit down to write what will undoubtedly be called a rant by some, I find myself a little suspicious of some reviews as well.

Out of the 25 current reviews, the 4 Elites (5 now, including myself) have an aggregate rating of 2.2. There are 6 glowing reviews currently filtered out by the suspicious Yelp robots. And over half of the 5-star reviewers have 3 or less total reviews.

Now, I have heard good things from people I actually know. But the ratings are so all over the board it'll be interesting to see how this pans out with time.

As for me, MULA is currently tied for biggest restaurant letdown of the summer. Out of all of the items we sampled last night, nothing would draw me back. Right now I'm even struggling for something I could call my "favorite"... Probably the chips? Or the drinks. Those were some pretty stout craft cocktails (but for $10 I'd certainly hope so).

Perhaps part of the problem is that I just don't subscribe to the trend of fancy Mexican restaurants? When I can get tacos, tortas and the like with 10x the flavor at 1/2 the price - or less - from a dozen plus other restaurants by driving only 5 more minutes... What's MULA bringing to the table for me?

Besides, literally, the following:

Jalapeno Business Mula (mule) - with house-infused tequila, cucumber, peppers and ginger beer. This was absolutely refreshing, and hands-down the best thing I had at Mula. Is it good enough to go back for solo though?

Mez Jackson Coctele - with vida organic mezcal, Mexican reserve brandy and fresh orange. Tasted like smoked citrus... in a good way. 

Elote Mexicano - not something I would have ordered probably, and still somehow it managed to not meet my expectations. The corn was charred, yes. But it was only luke-warm and really pretty cumbersome to eat, which I wouldn't expect here. 

Chicaronnes - the description reads, "pork belly" and that's literally what it was. But I've been noticing recently a disturbing trend that continued here. All fat. And in this case, it wasn't even really that charred. Yes, I realize that pork belly is nearly all fat... but there's a pretty significant difference between 92% fat and 100% fat. This was a dislike.

Queso Flameado - going back through our pictures, I forgot we had this. Then I remembered it tasted mostly like beans and pumpkin... neither of which have the kick of the ancho chilis I was hoping for. Chips were good though. 

Huevo con Chorizo -  time for a Scotch Egg themed rant. 

Last time I checked you can get a top of the line local, free range, organic egg for less than $0.50. Add in a dollars worth of chorizo and the the remaining $5 is... Labor? If there were two eggs for that price, I would consider ordering the XX again, because scotch egg with chorizo is an idea long past due. But in its current state of affairs it's just proportionately too pricey.

Salsa Flight - as the menu reads... charred pineapple (mango, habanero, vanilla bean, mint), roasted tomato (pumpkin seed, spring onion), tomatillo (avocado, serrano, cilantro). as the flavor profile lingers in my memory... pineapple? plain tomato. actually decent.

Carnitas Torta - this was the biggest fail of the evening, for me. The carnitas are described as 'Coca-Cola-braised Michoacan pork'... That probably should have been a clue to not order. In my humble opinion, the only place for Coke in Mexican food is when it comes from the ice bin of a truck in a glass bottle. This was one of those rare occasions where I forego the bun and went for the fillings only, but the meat itself seemed dry and way too sweet. They did comp this off the check, but it was handled a bit strangely.

Tacos - Al Pastor and Baja Fish for me. Neither were really exciting. Again, I try not to make comparisons, but for $2.50 I can think of at least a half dozen places I'd rather eat tacos - some of which are the best in town. The heavy metal tray these came on was my favorite part.

Re-reading the menu now, it all sounds great... in theory. The execution just wasn't on point.

All that being said, service was top-notch and I would be willing to maybe try again in a few months if the reviews stay positive. There were some other drinks I still need to try, after all... like house Horchata!

Now on the topic of money... I'd be happy to shell out the $80 we spent on dinner for myself (and have done so before happily) if the eats are amazing.

The food just wasn't.

The interior is great, service was friendly, location is VERY appealing as the Farnam Street corridor comes alive. Though without great food, I can't say I'll be frequenting Mula.

Even though it seems unfair, you can't ignore the fact that there is a wealth of amazing Mexican food to be had only 3 miles from here. So if it sounds like maybe you're in the same camp as me, I'd encourage you to check out one of the many other options for local, family-run establishments where the food is (in my opinion), superior in flavor. Your wallet will thank you also.

MULA Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon