Last Friday, a group of about 15 LTH'ers gathered at Amanacer for a special dinner. We had requested certain dishes, and for others we just went with what they offered.
Amanacer moved a few months back to larger and more lovely digs, now at
700 Ruby, Joliet, IL
There have also been some other changes, too, so I was more than a little curious about how the dinner would go.
The whole operation is bigger and more professional, and that is what one sees first. You can no longer watch all the food being prepared and your tortillas being made, which I miss. But the seating is better, the room more comfortable and friendly, the menu expanded. Still, you want to ignore that new menu for the most part and order the specials off the white board.
The Bride always insists on Guacamole, so we started with that. It was, in her opinion, not as good as in the past. They seem to have acquired more kitchen equipment and a bigger staff, so what we recieved was pureed, rather than chunky. We like chunky better.
The green and red salsas are now served in plastic squeeze bottles rather than the ersatz stone bowls of the past, though I think they are the same house-made salsas. And the chips are certainly the same. Does salsa taste better from a bowl? I was fighting a head cold, so my sense of smell was definitely reduced and I cannot comment on the taste. It seemed good, but I prefer to dip rather than drip my salsa. Just a quibble really.
Next came some rich Carne en su Jugo. Deep rich broth, chockful of beef and bacon, beans added to your taste with most of the normal condiments on the side. It was a respectable version, very tasty.
I believe the next dish was the Pollo con Mole Verde - a rich (that word keeps coming back here) lettucy mole with many layers of flavor. Well done.
Then we had Pollo con crema de Champinones - a remnant of Maximillian's time in Mexico, it combines cream, mushrooms and chipotles to deliver a goulash-y effect. Probably the best dish of the night for me, though the chipotles were hotter that day and so the dish was spicier and not as subtle and balanced as in the past.
Next we shared some Costillas en Chile Morita - braised ribs in a savory and spicy red chile sauce with moderate heat. This was also very good, even though I was stuffed by now.
I think VI sampled some picadillo after that, but I was too stuffed to even take a bit.
As I said above, I was a bit under the weather which affected both my appetite and my senses of smell and taste, which probably colored my assessment. I think Amanacer is very good, with some unique and excellent dishes, and Momma has a great touch with her moles and sauces. But it also is going through a transition from a tiny place where Mom bought and cooked everything to a real business, larger with more staff and more standardized dishes, providers, etc. And Mom has been teaching her staff. I think there was a dip for a while as a result of this transition, but the transition is almost complete and the quality again seems quite high.
Not quite as high as before, but the quaity of the dishes ranged from good (Guacamole) to very good (Carne en su Jugo) to wonderful (Green Mole, Chicken in cream and Ribs in Morita sauce). And I think they will continue to work out the kinks.
And they treat you very well at a great price. What more could I want?
Still a great place, offering dishes I have not seen elsewhere, done very well. Worth a trip.
Retired, gone fishing, and exploring my curmudgeon within