A Second Taste: Trying Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar Again

nicos-alpha-invertOkay, so it’s been 2 1/2 years since I first tried Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar on their “soft” opening. Wow. Has it been that long? Every time I passed it, I swore I wouldn’t go back. As we were standing in line behind all the bachelors at Chipotle, my favorite and only “fast” food place, my partner and I looked at each other and pondered giving Nico’s another chance. Heck, they’ve had plenty of time to work out the bugs, so the food must be better. I’ll have to say that I was very impressed by the changes.

We started out with a Tecate, which is not a very common beer to find in local Mexican restaurants. The Mexican beer list was quite extensive. I’ll have to come back to try one of the many tequilas. Next, the trio of salsas took some deciding, among the available six, including: Pico de Gallo, Roasted Tomatillo, Chile de Arbol, Chile Serrano, Ancho Narranja and salsa Verde. I opted for the Roasted Tomatillo, Chile de Arbol and the deliciously spicy and “creamy” salsa verde. And here I thought that cream had been added, but it’s all on account of the whipped avocado.

tacosTwo orders of tacos came next; two vegetable and one camaron. Arroz and frijoles came with the tacos. I was happy to discover the soft corn tortillas, instead of the typical hard-shelled gringo tacos, accompanied by sauteed squash, red bell peppers and charred corn. The shrimp taco had sauteed garlic, chile de arbol, black pepper and lime served on a flour tortilla. The tacos were very good. The only thing I would change would be to have corn tortillas instead of flour for the camaron tacos.

It did take me a while to get back to Nico’s Taco and Tequila bar, but I’m glad I gave it another chance. The “soft” opening is all but a faded memory. I look forward to stopping next time and not just walking by.

A comedy of errors, restaurant style

Whenever my husband and I are in Uptown, we often pass Amore Victoria and wonder if we should try it. We usually resolve that the food wouldn’t be very good and always end up at our favorite Barbette across the street. But this time, we were thrilled to see that Amore Victoria had a brand new rooftop patio! How wonderful! So, we crossed the street and entered on the street level.

Amore rooftop from frontNoone was there to greet us, except when we were able to flag down a server who gestured toward the back of the building. We made our way past the tables on the sidewalk, saw the parking lot and spotted an unpainted wooded staircase. Could this be the entrance to the rooftop patio? We climbed the staircase, took in the view, and tried to find a “greeter”, or someone in uniform. Two servers, who looked like deer in the headlights, hurriedly passed us without even making eye contact or saying they’d be right with us. Fortunately, the busser was very friendly and motioned us to a table with a big tray on it. We walked toward the table and waited until someone took the tray before we could sit down. The busser promptly brought two red plastic glasses with water and a lemon wedge. (Why plastic glasses when all the others are glass? How tacky. Are we at Chucky Cheese?) We waited for what must have been 15 minutes before our server greeted us, saying he’d be right back for a drink order. We watched, for the next 10 minutes, as other tables in this very large section looked around for their server. We casually looked at the menu, knowing we’d have plenty of time to decide before the server had time to take our drink order. At least, we thought, the food COULD be good and make up for all of this waiting. The menu had way too many items. I thought of the wonderfully simple quality menus that Gordon Ramsey usually put together after resolving a kitchen nightmare. We chose the same red wine to make it easy, bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, foccacia with mixed olives, potato gnocci with gorgonzola sauce for me and seafood pasta for my husband.

In the midst of all this running around, I noticed one of the owners at the top of the stairs casually cleaning the menus, completely oblivious to the needs of the servers. I couldn’t believe it! Doesn’t he realize that all the servers are totally “in the weeds”?!

After watching our server race back and forth, and up and down the staircase, he finally approached our table when he was deterred by two ladies to our left who were wondering where one of their entrees ended up. He briskly moved down the staircase one more time, returning with her entree. He took a deep breath, pulled out his tablet and asked us if we were ready to order a glass of wine. We gave him our entire order. We continued to watch the chaotic scene and just laughed about it. What more could go wrong here? The wine came promply after we ordered and 15 minutes later the “heirloom” tomato bruschetta arrived. The bread was overly toasted and the tomatoes were small and nothing special. The foccacia was marvelous. Much later, as we were watching the sun go down over Lake Calhoun, our steaming entrees arrived. My gnocci was fabulous…soft potato pillows in a creamy gorgonzola sauce. My husband’s seafood pasta was also great, including the home made pasta. We felt bad for the server because he really was doing the best he could under the circumstances.

Even though most of our food was very good, we will not return to this comedy of errors. I can’t believe Amore Victoria is still in business. It’s too bad. They need a complete overhaul of their menu and they need to hire more servers! Gordon Ramsey, are you out there? This place needs a lot of shaking up!