Tag Archives: impending disaster

Mija Cantina: Not Worth Their Salt

13 Jun

The Boston Nacho News Network (BNNN) is all atwitter today with the news that Jalepenos is closing (the curse of Our House West rears its ugly head…). But with its passing comes another crappy Mexican restaurant–this time in the doldrums of Quincy Market. On first glance, Mija Cantina & Tequila Bar  seemed to be a lovely oasis with a design concept best described by our friend Zach as “pro-tourist salvage-yard neo-mexigoth.” We would have been wise, however, to heed the advice of the many Yelp reviewers who cautioned us to keep clear.

According to our server, Mija opened two weeks ago, but if we didn’t know better, we would assume someone had hauled in a wait staff off the street, forgot to train them, and then opened doors three months early. We didn’t even know where to begin in describing the problems with the service, so we condensed it down into a list:

  • Upon arriving, a nervous looking hostess told us it would be an hour wait for a table of seven. This was Wednesday early evening, and once we pointed to a whole slew of empty tables and told her we would just sit separately, she told us they could push two tables together.
  • While waiting for our table, we noticed numerous waitresses demonstrate an absolute inability to hold a tray.
  • Our waitress could only find one drink menu, and then brought out the wrong beer three times. We asked for a Long Trail IPA–first they served us Bud Light. Twice they brought out Harpoon IPA. We gave up after that.
  • It took five bartenders 22 minutes to serve us two margaritas so bad that we had to send them back.
  • In deference to our vegetarian table-mate, we asked for carnitas to be served on the side of our ‘chos. When the runner put the plate on the table, we saw a distinct pile of meat. Asking him if these had “carnitas on the side,” he quickly said yes and left before we could argue. We would have been grumpy about this until we noticed that the beans had meat built in. Which brings us to the issue of the nachos…
Based on the description on the menu, these nachos had promise: tortilla chips, charro beans (pinto beans with bacon and chorizo) , Monterey jack cheese, chile con queso, pico, crema, guacamole, and carnitas.
  • Appearance: (7.5) Attractive, with an artful drizzle of crema.  Points off for the “on the side” carnitas…
  • Quality: (7) We enjoyed the carnitas and beans; however, the chips were both unevenly cooked and unevenly salted, so much so that there were bites that left us choking and teary-eyed with sodium overdose (and Nacho Patrol LOVES their salt).  The guacamole and salsa were nothing special.
  • Distribution: (7.3) There were a lot of toppings, but overall the dish was heavy, rather than complementary. The unevenly cooked chips only added to the problem as some became incredibly soggy under the weight of all the toppings.
  • Price: (3) The management might think that $13 nachos (and $11 margaritas) are appropriate for the space and location, but we say they simply aren’t worth the trouble of dealing with this establishment.
  • Overall: 24.8/40.  These nachos aren’t bad, but please, don’t go.  This place hasn’t yet earned the right to be in business and we don’t want to encourage them!
We were lucky to share this meal with a small army of food industry professionals, and as they pointed out, a new restaurant needs a competent wait-staff to support it while it builds a reputation. Sadly, Mija’s under-qualified staff and overpriced menu handicapped what could have been a pleasant dining experience. We will be eagerly anticipating the next Mexican restaurant to sweep in on the Tex-Mex tides.
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Jacob Wirth: Ich Bin Ein Ber-Nacho

6 Apr

Consider this: has there ever been an opportunity as wasted as Jacob Wirth Restaurant’s nachos?

Jacob Wirth resides in the heart of the Theatre District, which isn’t known for having good nachos or for being a generally pleasant place at all. They serve German-ish food, and if it’s a more American dish, they may throw in a spare spaetzle (please see “Quality of Ingredients” for a further discussion of this phenomenon) to liven things up, or confuse you terribly.

Our primary complaint with Jacob Wirth–besides the fact that most of our food was bad, our service not very good, and the beer wildly overpriced–is that they have all the ingredients to make creative and delicious nachos, yet they chose to offend our culinary senses by serving up an abominable (yes, abominable) substitute. Were this plate to fall out of a vending machine at The Tam, we would not lift an eyebrow. They’ve failed at being a German restaurant by offering American-style nachos, and accordingly, those nachos have failed to be edible. There is a vast world of opportunities lying in wait in the Jacob Wirth kitchen (beer cheese sauce? sausage? cabbage? spaetzle chips? bah!), and it is frustrating that they give us something so unpalatably average.

The vitriol is leaking from the spent fuel storage of our hearts. Let’s just do the numbers and get it over with:

  • Appearance: (4) Wan and sad looking, we knew we were in trouble when we saw the burnt, multi-colored chips (tinted with industrial grade food dye, rather than real blue corn) and the sparse coating of unmelted cheese. While we appreciated the annexing of the sour cream to the plastic cup, the guac was grayish and unappealing. The black beans stood out and felt totally unnecessary, especially since they added nothing to the overall taste. Even the black olives were off.  We liked the brightness of the red peppers–a happy change from the typical jalapeno.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (3) Giving these a three was difficult, but since they at least weren’t made of broken glass and rusty nails, we felt obligated to throw in at least a few gratuity points. Let’s start with the chips, which, like the guac/salsa/chili/cheese/beans, provided more texture than flavor. Proper seasoning would have improved everything: the guac was overly lemony and needed a salty kick and the salsa was basically marinara sauce. The chili was a steaming pot of crazy. Though we didn’t mind the flavor (subtle, not a normal spicy, chili-ey, chili), we found no fewer than three things that didn’t belong:
    • A carrot: what is this, ShittySide?
    • White beans: yum, but wtf?
    • A spaetzle or two: was it an accident, a lone spaetzle careening into the nacho abyss, or was it a deliberate act by a chef desperate to infuse a little Deutschland into his dud? Whatever the reason, it weirded us out. Just when you think you’re biting into a hunk of melted cheese…
  • Distribution of Toppings: (4.6) Not enough toppings–a mess of bad chips without a pillow of cheese to smother them. We’re thankful the guac and salsa was separated, as both were so terrible.
  • Price: (7) $10.25 for the whole sha-bang. We wondered if our Groupon usage on this particular evening could have affected our meal. Could it be that they took half off not only our bill, but also the quality of our food? We’ve read that businesses who use Groupons very rarely see the deals result in repeat customers. Our experience at Jacob Wirth leads us to believe that it isn’t the lack of a coupon that prevents people from returning–it’s in fact because the food is just not that good.
  • Overall: (18.6/40)

As a side note, the pretzels were fine. Here’s a picture of a grease stain:

Lunch Time Nachos

1 Dec

As evidenced by our sad shortage of updates and our disrespectfully sporadic Twitter feed, we here at nachopatrol.com actually have jobs. How the rest of the blogging world manages to work full-time and still have time to write and promote their work is still a mystery to us. The best we can do is dump turkey on fancy chips, eat it, and then pass out on the couch. But just because don’t have time to review nachos, doesn’t mean we don’t want them…

That’s why we’re starting a new “Lunchoble” (Lunch+Nachos+Edible) series, focusing on all the nachos one can purchase, eat, and regret in under 45 minutes. To distinguish these reviews from our regular behemoths, we’re going to rate on looks (are they pretty or cobbled together?), structural integrity (can you take them to go and are they the right size for a lunch appetite?), deliciousness (do they sate your burning need for ‘chos?), and lunchability (are they, like us, cheap and easy?). Scores will be out of 20, with 5 total points awarded in each category.

Our first reviews will favor Boston’s Theatre District. If you work down here, you know just how dismal the Mexican food situation actually is (though we haven’t yet given up on finding nachos in China Town). Hopefully amidst all those cemeteries and college students who don’t understand sidewalks, we’ll strike gold.