Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yerba (Non) Buena

Blame it on Kathy. There are Facebook friends to trust, and most not to. I'm still feeling this one out, but so far, she's got one strike against her. I was jonesing Mexican... never much go for it in the wintertime when Brussels sprouts and fragrant stews are to be had, but once the sun breaks out, so can the frijoles. So Yerba Buena popped up on my radar because of her recommendation and the rising mercury of a balmy summer evening.
The room is dark, cacophonous. We were screaming by the time we got our guacamole, just to be heard. And the noise didn't make the guacamole go down any more smoothly. It was good enough, a nicely textured puree with some welcome chunks and bits of tomato, and nice tart kick. Homemade-looking chips and a sprinkle of cotija were workable scoops, and everything seemed okay thus far. Little hamachi taquitos followed, four to a plate, one left uneaten. The ensalada Yerba Buena should have been called the Lettuce Yerba Buena, because in order to be a salad, I believe, there has to be some sort of cohering element. Instead, there were some tough leaves on the plate, a few chunks of avocado and mealy squares of tomato with an almost undetectable residue of an elusive vinaigrette; this is where the guacamole came in handy, though, to at least anoint the foliage a bit in order to render it edible.
The mains continued on in mediocrity. Camarones con Palmito was comprised of fairly bland cachaca marinated shrimp and discs of hearts of palm, supposedly grilled but seemed more to have just jumped out of a can. The rio de janeiro salsa had some definite bite, but overwhelmed everything else (which was actually probably a good thing, since the everything else didn't have a lot to offer on its own). Grilled black cod was cooked properly, but in a strange veer from an otherwise Latin menu, decided to pull a Nobu and slicked it with miso. A gummy corn puree underneath could have foiled a kicky salsa or a chipotle rub, but this pallid miso glaze could neither hide that the fish
could have been a little fresher, nor cut the its oiliness, NOR amp up the bland grits. Even the pomegranate seeds strewn atop tasted mostly of the seed itself, and not much of the ruby bead of fruit. A side of espinacas (ordered separately), then, in its uber-saltiness, served as a necessary condiment to the fish, much like the guac had assisted the salad. Hey, you make it work.
We skipped out on dessert here, too, and wandered over to Braeburn for a lovely roasted peach parfait, thankfully generous in size, because there was some satiating yet to be accomplished. (A full report on Braeburn is imminent: the dessert alone, but also the charming Chef Bistrong, demand an immediate return.)
I reported back to Kathy after the disappointing repast. She replied "Well, you must not have gotten the Pisco Mojito!" So now I know. In order to enjoy the comidas at Yerba Buena, knock back multiple cocktails prior. Maybe then, as functioned the guacamole and the spinach, everything else will go down smoothly.

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