Dining in, dreaming out: Pasquini’s, Go Fish, Buenos Aires Grill, El Taco de Mexico, Los Carboncitos, Domo
As the final deadline of the massive freelance work project I’ve mentioned nears, leaving the house is not an option. Neither is cooking. (Hell, neither is showering, much to the dismay of the Director but to my own secret funky delight.)
So we’ve been ordering in a lot. I didn’t even bother taking pictures of either the chef’s salad or the calzone we recently got from Pasquini’s, knowing at a glance that neither would amount to much except from a calorie-counting standpoint. The menu describes a calzone as being “like a pizza folded over.” No “like” about it. This one spanned the width of the pizza box it came in. Actually, given the toughness of the dough & the blandness of the ingredients—sauce, sausage, & cheese all barely registering as such—”like a pizza box folded over” would be more to the point.
That said, Pasquini’s delivers wine by the bottle—cheaply, & I mean cheaply (most are $12-$14). Antiquated as my old hometown of Boston’s liquor laws are, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Oh, West, how wild you are. Oh, little not-so-now-that’s-Italian pizza franchise, how awesome you are in all your mediocrity.
Speaking of mediocrity, I’m fully aware Go Fish fits the definition. The Director and I dined there a couple of times shortly after it opened and couldn’t fathom returning, what with Sushi Den around the corner & Sushi Sasa around, period. Nor have we. But we have ordered take-out a few times in the past few weeks, & I can’t bring myself to knock it. A, the folks behind the bar have been nothing but kind to the Director, plying him with complimentary shots of ginger sake while he waited. B, they offer a few riceless rolls; since rice is one of those things that tends to launch me on a roll—a taste triggers a craving that isn’t fulfilled until I’ve eaten a whole pot’s worth, straight therefrom, with salt & butter—I try to avoid it when under the sort of stress & duress I’m under now, lacking the strength to resist its ricey wiles.
Wrapped in cucumber, the filling is sort of like spicy tuna, only mild, mixed with salmon & poked with avocado. It’s basically a chunky fish cream. Cucumber-encircled chunky fish cream. I’ll take it.
The temptation to rely on the laziness of strangers & skimp on take-out portions is 1 the majority of restaurateurs seem to yield to; not so Go Fish. An appetizer of grilled jumbo calamari rings reminds me of Madonna’s arms circa 1983.
That could be because it has the same basic texture as a stack of those old rubber bangles. But the squid flavor’s all there—that flavor I love, the slipperiness of pink turning white—with a drizzle rather than a drenching of teriyakiesque sauce.
Still, I can hardly write the word “grill” without yearning for the moment when I can once again step over the threshold of the door before me & into the light of, say, Buenos Aires Grill, where the provoleta a la cazadora—provolone with mushrooms, scallions & tomato—is like a giant grilled cheese sandwich you dropped on the floor, so you just eat it right off the linoleum there in the kitchen, scooping up the filling with the bread, because it’s too good to toss…in fact better this way, the exception that proves—or maybe the refutation of—the 5-second rule.
Or behind the bars of, oh, El Taco de Mexico, where that tugboat of a twice-stuffed burrito—its hull laden with a chile relleno as well as beans & rice—steams on through the purest of green chiles, porkless & just this side of brothy.
Or in the colorful if liquorless confines of Los Carboncitos, amid posters advertising the sort of local boxing tourney you just know devolves into a parking-lot free-for-all, where the foot-long huaraches evoke oval sopes or even Turkish pides—unless you get
the Cubano: festooned out the wazoo with beef, ham, cotija, tomato, red onion,
jalapeno, avocado, and “Mexican sausage” I’ll swear up & down is chopped hot dog,
it’s comparable to nada.
Or even, as it cools & darkens through the fall, in the rock garden of Domo—a place I consider largely overrated but for the jars of pit viper wine lining the kitchen window
& the battara yaki, a sort of shrimp frittata smothered in Domo’s sweet-sour “original sauce” & mayo & bonito flakes & I don’t know what all.