Last night, my husband said I could pick a restaurant to try for our usual Friday date night. We opted to go for one of the new ones, instead of succumbing to one of our many favorite restaurants in BGC.
The last time we dined in Burgos Circle, I saw this soon-to-open restaurant replacing what used to be Casa Marcos. I found Hacienda Comida Y Cocteles on Zomato quite quickly, and saw it had two reviews, with 4- and 5-star ratings. I thought, not bad for a restaurant on soft opening.
I’ve always dreamed of going to Latin America to experience
authentic burst-in-your-mouth mix of herbs, spices, heat, and all that.
Still, we were open to choosing something along the way. We walked by the Forbeswood retail area and hesitated for a good two seconds outside Bistro Madrid, and ultimately decided to go for the more homey exterior of Hacienda instead. From the outside, we could see that just a couple of tables were occupied.Ambience / Interior
As soon as we sat down, I stared at A because it was noisy. It was still early, but I guess this other table (group of 5-6 people) have had one too many tequilas, or they’re just really loud. The acoustics of the place was of no help, given the hard surfaces all around, wooden seats, hard tables, low ceiling.
I’m sure they’d want it to be a late-night loud place to be in, especially if you’re offering to get people drunk with an awesome tequila selection, but given that there were only three tables at 7:30pm and I’m already uncomfortable with the noise (I can’t understand what my husband was saying from across the table), guess we could safely say this was not a date place.
Soft Opening Menu
Wait, here’s the soft opening menu:
Food & Drinks
We ordered Guacamole for starters (hey, no surprise there, it’s a Mexican place!) Now, to be honest I’ve never been to Mexico, and I cannot tell you how different or similar these are with the authentic ones.
But here’s what I think about the guacamole: I like that it’s not made in a blender, or else it would be too smooth. The texture of mashed avocados is there. The taste of the guacamole overall, I’m not sure about that. It tastes like…avocado. If I’m not mistaken, there should be a kick of herbs, lime juice, and a little bit of heat in a legit bowl guac. The homemade chips were thick and a bit hard to bite on. I stopped at four chips and waited for our food.
I’m more of a beer or wine drinker so cocktails aren’t really my thing. We ordered Dos Equis, and found out that the Lager was too light for me. I shoulda gone with Ambar.
Soon enough one of our two orders came: Arroz con Chorizo y Camarones, which my Spanish knowledge will translate to Rice with Chorizo and Shrimp. You know, we don’t eat that much white rice, but what is Mexican food without rice? I was hungry so I dug right in, while A finished the guacamole.
Whoops. After my first spoonful, I had to recalibrate in my head that this wasn’t paella. My bad. Okay, let’s try this dish again. Let’s think: Mexican, spices, chorizo, shrimp, rice. Hmmm.
Let’s do that again. Here we go:
So it’s rice alright. Fried rice. It’s topped with a few pieces of white shrimp that were probably cooked separately so it had no impact on the rice. The chorizo slices were so thin and were hardly there.
What is going on? I was quite hungry, but let’s not waste carbs on rice that can’t stand alone. Am I too Filipino for wanting more flavor in it? It was on the ‘house specials’ menu as a standalone dish, I really thought it’d be like the Mexican version of, I don’t know, yang chow fried rice? Rice in a box? I asked for hot sauce. I need something.
Two out of three items out, and I’m not happy about it. I wait a little bit more until the Plato de Carne Asada came. We asked for medium rare and glad that it came with the intended doneness. I remember we ordered Carne Asada from Naxional Diner and it came out medium well, so this was a relief.
The rice that came with this plate was a tad more flavorful than Arroz con Chorizo y Camarones. I started with the meat and the beans.
It’s tender, it’s medium rare. The beans gives you some texture to play with. But, god, no. Where are the “Mexican spices” at?
My husband was just glancing at me while we eat because we can’t have a decent conversation over the noise of the group who’s talking like they’re at a bachelorette party. I’m hungry so I had to fill that tummy with about four pieces of the meat, slathered with hot sauce, and rice. Finished my beer, and I was ready to go.
In case you missed it, I’m not happy about this experience. I’ve had better luck with Latin American restaurants like Chihuahua, or Brasas, and even Alegria–which was also on its soft opening when we tried it.
Where’s the flavor? That punch, that kick. I was waiting for it. Instead, I drowned it in hot sauce.
We overheard someone asking if the food they serve is like Mexicali’s, and was replied to with a “No, we serve authentic Mexican food…” If this is what authentic Mexican cuisine is like, maybe I don’t need to go to Mexico after all.
My husband was worried about me leaving a bad review. I tell him, what is the point of blogging if all I wanted was to make everybody feel good? If you’ve ever read my disclaimer page, you know that I write honestly from experience.
I should’ve learned my lesson by checking on the previous two reviews I saw on Zomato; I later realized that both accounts had only ONE review each. Yup, only for Hacienda. How could I have been manipulated by that?!
One review will not end Hacienda. In fact, I’m putting this out here early on while they’re still on their soft opening. They need to improve. The owners and management deserve to know how the consumers feel so they can step it up, re-evaluate, and do better–instead of inviting their friends over, get praises, and fold later on.
Maybe they’d need to re-evaluate their menu. Maybe they’re focusing too much on authentic ingredients instead of the taste. Maybe they need to shift their focus on being a tequila bar. Who knows?
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This review is cross-linked on my Zomato profile.
We paid for our food and dined as regular customers. You can read full disclaimer / disclosures here.