Monday, December 19, 2011

Dinner at Masa

I recently met friends for dinner at Masa, the Mexican D'Amico restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, which is pretty perfectly situated on Nicollet Mall.

I have to point out right away that I quite love the look and feel of Masa with its full range of colors and impressive decor. The exposed kitchen gives patrons an inside glimpse at a bustling and well-run staff.

This was my second visit to Masa in the last few years, and after having really enjoyed my first visit, I had fairly high expectations for the second visit. We ordered a couple of appetizers to share, starting with the serrano relleno - two serrano peppers filled with queso and lightly fried in meringue batter. They come served with charred tomatillo and chile piquillo salsa. I didn't know what half of those things really were, but the important translation = HOT!

Frankly, it was just a bit too spicy for me, and my mouth was on fire so I couldn't really even enjoy it. Even my more adventure-seeking companions were gulping down water like it was nobody's business.

To tame things down a bit, we paired it with the gordita - a masa cake griddled and fried with carnitas, guacamole, red onion and salsa.

This was much more up my alley, and I definitely enjoyed my third of the app.

For my entree, I went with the choice of three tacos, served with rice and frijoles charros (pinto beans stewed with onion, garlic and bacon). The three tacos I selected were the 1. steak (marinated skirt steak with lettuce and onions), 2. chicken (shredded chicken with chipotle crema) and 3. carnitas (roasted pork, cilantro, onion and lime).

In general, I was pretty much so-so on this meal. What I liked: the chicken taco, which was actually very delicious, and the beans, which packed great flavor. The carnitas taco was good, though I've certainly had far better versions at other spots throughout the city. The rice would have been good but it was under-cooked, and the steak taco actually didn't do anything for me...I thought it had a funky taste and left half of it on my plate.

And, on top of the meal not meeting my expectations, our server was a bit off. Surrounded by other well-meaning and attentive servers (one who even stopped at our table to see if we needed anything), she just seemed kind of indifferent. Not bad necessarily...just not really into it.

I wasn't quite ready to give up after dinner, so I insisted we order the one absolute favorite thing I remembered from my first visit for dessert: the churros. Oh, the churros. Served warm with a rich, hot chocolate dipping sauce, I was sure these would save our meal. By the time they came to our table, I forgot all about taking a picture and dug right in!

They were almost as good as I remembered, but at that point, I think we were all just a bit disenchanted with our dining experience. I'm still debating whether I'll give Masa another go in hopes that this was just an off night...but with so many other great restaurants to choose from (including D'Amico's Lurcat, which ranks as one of my all-time favorites), the jury is still out...

20 Day Holiday Workout Challenge
I'm still trucking on the 20 Day Challenge and hoping I'll hit 20 come Dec. 25...just need to work out each of the six remaining days!

1. Tuesday, Nov. 29: spinning and core classes at the gym
2. Thursday, Dec. 1: spinning and core classes at the gym
3. Sunday, Dec. 4: hot power fusion (yoga) at Corepower
4. Monday, Dec. 5: personal training session with my workout buddy at the gym
5. Tuesday, Dec. 6: hot power fusion at Corepower
6. Wednesday, Dec. 7: cardio and strength training at the gym
7. Saturday, Dec. 10: a game of racquetball at the gym (probably more chat session than kick butt workout)
8. Sunday, Dec. 11: candlelight flow at Corepower
9. Monday, Dec. 12: brisk late-night walk through Uptown (forgot I had after-work New Year's Eve plans!)
10. Tuesday, Dec. 13: hot power fusion at Corepower
11. Wednesday, Dec. 14: cardio and strength training at the gym
12. Friday, Dec. 16: candlelight flow at Corepower
13. Saturday, Dec. 17: cardio and strength training at the gym
14. Sunday, Dec. 18: candlelight flow at Corepower

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