Friday, November 13, 2015

Dinner Before a Movie

Welcome to Rancho Adelinas in beautiful downtown Marshalltown located conveniently next to the Villager rooming house...

  When Kathy and I take our beagles and occasional guest bloggers Daisy and Baxter on their evening walk we always pass the corner of N. Center and State streets. There have been very few changes to this corner in the 21 years I’ve lived in Marshalltown. The northwest corner is the police station and city hall parking lot which diagonally keeps an eye on the southeast corner’s ‘Corner Tap’ bar which has been suspiciously closed the past few weeks after being sold and having a grand reopening less than three years ago. The southwest corner used to have the library until it moved a few blocks away using money from a tax levy which the supporters promised if passed would allow the library to be open on Sundays which it has never been but a new tax levy was passed last week which the library promised would allow it to be open on Sundays which it has not been yet. The building received a $618,618 grant from the State of Iowa I-Jobs to convert it for use as the town’s Parks and Rec office and the City Council chambers which created 10 temporary part time jobs (I wrote about it here).

  The northeast corner of N. Center and State streets has seen a flurry of activity this year. There used to be a rundown building that contained a trophy store. There was an older man running the store and while I did use him to occasionally relabel older trophies his process couldn’t compete with the online trophy stores. The old man also had the U-Haul franchise and then a Ryder Truck franchise running out of his tiny parking lot until his death a few years ago. At that point the tiny rundown building was empty until this spring when we would occasionally see some workers refurbishing the building. A new concrete parking lot was laid down, an addition put on the newly gutted and rebuilt existing building, a lawn was created with fresh sod, and a fence put up to presumably keep the rabble from the Villager rooming house next door from wandering over.

  I assumed that the building would house an ethnic grocery store since there are four Mexican grocery stores and two Myanmar stores within four blocks of the corner of N. Center and State streets but I assumed wrong. Over the summer a sign went up proclaiming the building to be the new home of ‘Rancho Adelinas’ which would serve “Real Authentic Mexican Food” (Are there any restaurants that serve ‘imaginary authentic’ or ‘real fake’ Mexican food?). Slowly but surely the restaurant began to take shape with a dumpster and a large street sign making their appearance and the grand opening was announced for October 30th.

  I hadn’t been to a Mexican restaurant in years. Kathy and I used to go to the El Portal restaurant that is in a strip mall by the K-Mart until we went there one Valentine’s Day. We arrived and were seated by the drafty back door which sent occasional bone chilling blasts of freezing air right through our table where we were given a bowl of chips, some salsa, water for Kathy, and coke for me. We ordered some food off the menu and waited. And waited. And waited some more. After about an hour of freezing and rationing our dwindling supply of chips (no refills were offered) we left. Kathy has gone back to El Portal on occasion but I won’t step foot in the place. When I helped St. Mary with the Fall Festival we had a final meeting in 2011 at the Mexico Antiguo restaurant a few blocks from our house on Main Street. I had a bowl of Sopa de Mariscos (Seafood Stew) and it was awesome! The soup was spicy without making my eyes water and there was something different in every bite with shrimp, fish, octopus, clams, and crabmeat. We went to Mexico Antiguo on occasion until they closed a year later and I haven’t gone to a Mexican restaurant since unless you count Taco John’s which I don’t.

We sat in a large eating room with plenty of tables and selected from a large menu of choices.

  Kathy and I decided to go to Rancho Adelinas last Friday night and then catch a movie afterwards. We took Daisy and Baxter past the restaurant on their evening walk as usual and made our way back home. After putting the beagles in the kitchen we took the two minute drive to Ranch Adelinas and arrived at 6:15. The restaurant had one big room with booths, round tables, and square tables and a smaller row of tables on the other side of the restaurant near the bar with the kitchen in the middle. As we waited by the sign asking us to wait to be seated three of the waiters/waitresses were engaged in an animated conversation but after about two minutes the manager came out of the kitchen and joined the conversation which broke up quickly and Kathy and I were soon sitting in a booth.

  Once we were seated things happened pretty quickly. We got our water and some overcooked chips with two kinds of sauce; a mild red sauce and a hot green sauce. I say sauce and not salsa since there were no chunks of anything. The menu had all the familiar items and while everything seemed a dollar or two more than I remembered. Could it be that the price of food in Mexican restaurants had gone up in the past few years just like all the other staples of modern living like coffee and beef stick treats? Without thinking too much I went straight to the soup section and ordered the fish soup. If I had been looking more carefully I would have ordered the seven seas soup since that more closely resembled my El Antiguo favorite.

  Kathy doesn’t eat meat and normally gets a Mexican food staple with beans replacing any meat item. After getting over the shock of having the waiter call her 'Sir', she asked the waiter for a burrito with beans instead of the meat and a small chess quesadilla. The waiter had to ask the manager how to write up the ticket which only took a couple of second and our orders were on our way while we ate the chips and sauce. The big room we were seated in was very clean and quiet even as it filled up during the dinner hour and in ten minutes our food had arrived.

Looking at the pictures, Kathy's burrito and quesadilla may seem more appetizing than my fish soup but appearances can be deceiving.

  I ordered fish soup and I got plenty of it. Before me was a big bowl of soup with a fish in it! The fish was cut into three pieces and floating in the red broth with a few chunks of carrot and celery to keep it company. I broke the fish into more pieces. There were a few patches of skin but thankfully no fish head or fish eyes staring back at me. Kathy’s burrito looked huge but filled mostly with rice and lettuce and very little beans. He small quesadilla was good but she didn’t think it was worth the $4 it cost.

  As for me I liked the fish soup. The fish tasted good and the broth was just like Mexico Antiguo‘s- spicy but not enough to make me reach for some bread or water. The only problem I had was that every mouth of fish came with a mouthful of bones. I didn’t care much for having to pull bones out of my mouth all the time but I got used to it.

  We quickly paid $24 for our meal and were off to the movie. I think $24 is a little high for a dinner for two considering that there were no drinks involved – not even a soda but I liked the restaurant and Kathy and I were full enough that we didn’t feel the need to spend $10+ on movie popcorn and drinks. Rancho Adelinas is only a week old and hopefully the next time we head that way they will have figured out how to get the bones out of the fish soup, put more beans in the bean burritos, and not call my wife 'Sir'. I wouldn’t call give the restaurant an ‘A’ but it was a long way from failing either. Sticking with my grading system I’d give it a B- and an occasional place in our restaurant rotation which is almost completely occupied by the Buffet King all you can eat Chinese buffet just a couple of blocks away.

  Last week's basketball picks proved to be fishier than my soup as I went 1-2 to trim my season record to 5-2 and my winnings to $280. I was a game late on the Pistons fatigue on their West Coast swing and the inconsistent Wizards rewarded me with more in-consistence by getting blown out my the Celtics. This week I am using the assistance of my basketball prediction program. The season is so young there isn't enough data to rely and my program has spit out 3 road underdogs and a home favorite that I will go with for my mythical bets of $110 to win $100 using the lines as listed on the Yahoo Sports page for entertainment purposes only with no real money being wagered.

Charlotte Hornets at Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have had 4 days off to get ready to avenge their 25 point loss to the Hornets 10 days ago. The Hornets have won 4 of 5 games and have lost only one game this year by more than 10 points. Charlotte is getting 7 points in this contest and I agree with the computer that they will cover the spread if not win outright.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Indiana Pacers
The Timberwolves lost to the defending champion Warriors last night in a game that was close for the first 40 minutes and are traveling to Indianapolis to take on the Pacers who are on a 2 game winning streak with 2 days of rest. I think playing the Warriors last night will make the Pacers look slow to the youthful Timberwolves. I'll take the 'Wolves to cover the 7 point spread against Pacers.

Portland Trailblazers at Memphis Grizzlies
I am less sure about this game than the first two. The Grizzlies have been moribund so far this year and are on a 4 game losing streak but their bulk inside should bother the smallish Blazers who are riding a three game losing streak of their own. I like the fact that the Blazers won the matchup between these two teams two weeks ago in Portland and will take them and the seven points.

Philadelphia 76ers at Oklahoma City Thunder
Once again the 76ers are barely competitive and have lost their first 8 games this year while the Thunder rebounded from a 3 game losing streak with two straight blowout wins. A complicating factor will be the absence of Thunder all star Kevin Durant with a hamstring injury but I consider the Thunder to be a far superior team even without Durant and think only giving 13 and a half points to be a discount at home.

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