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La Casa de Samuel: Exotica Guerrerensia et Ordinaria Mundana

La Casa de Samuel: Exotica Guerrerensia et Ordinaria Mundana
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  • Post #61 - November 11th, 2006, 2:38 pm
    Post #61 - November 11th, 2006, 2:38 pm Post #61 - November 11th, 2006, 2:38 pm
    David Hammond wrote:If you found yourselves intrigued by the Sergio Show, you would have loved the flambe.

    Sergio was in top flambe form Thursday during our LTHForum GNR Presentation dinner.

    Image
    Image

    And seemed especially pleased with the able assistance of Liz.
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    Our meal was enjoyable as well, though the coleslaw we had as a starter
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    Had eyes :shock: (it was actually eel ;) )
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    Highlights were the terrific company.
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    The wonderful Salsa de Arbol (L) Salsa de Pasillas (R)
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    And Antonius presenting the LTHForum GNR to Casa de Samuel.

    (L-R) Sergio Inigo, Antonius, Nancy Arreola, Helen Linares, Mia Linares, Jorge Linares, Amata
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    Lucantonio
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    For additional pictures please click here (scroll down to GNR)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #62 - November 19th, 2006, 11:03 pm
    Post #62 - November 19th, 2006, 11:03 pm Post #62 - November 19th, 2006, 11:03 pm
    Hi,

    I was in Waukegan this evening, I noticed La Casa de Samuel closed and in it's location is another Mexican restaurant whose name I couldn't verify: La Fondita, I think.

    La Casa de Samuel - RIP WAUKEGAN LOCATION ONLY!
    120 North Genesee Street
    Waukegan, IL 60085
    Tel: 847/782-8700
    Sunday-Thursday: 8 AM - 10 PM
    Friday-Saturday: 8 AM - 2 AM

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #63 - November 19th, 2006, 11:23 pm
    Post #63 - November 19th, 2006, 11:23 pm Post #63 - November 19th, 2006, 11:23 pm
    DON'T HAVE THE OYSTERS!
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #64 - November 7th, 2007, 5:08 pm
    Post #64 - November 7th, 2007, 5:08 pm Post #64 - November 7th, 2007, 5:08 pm
    This thread has been quiet for a long time, and I figured it would be a good time to resurrect it since the memory of this afternoon's visit to La Casa de Samuel is so fresh. La Casa is always one of my favorite stops on the south side, and I don't get there frequently enough. But with business down south today, I decided to bring a few newbies there to let them experience good Mexican food. Not surprisingly, they were all extremely impressed.

    I made sure to check out my friends' reactions as we walked up to the restaurant and they could see the tortillas being freshly made -- always an impressive sight. I ordered my favorite dish, the Cecina de Venado (although I also love the Cabrito al Horno), which was fantastic as always. I've had venison at some high end restaurants, but I don't know that I've had better venison than this. One of my friends raved about the Caldo de Pescado which I have had before and loved. And another's Carne Asada was also excellent. The stack of freshly made tortillas are always a treat (they're excellent, although I prefer the ones at Sol de Mexico), as is the prompt and friendly service. It's been a while since I've been there, and I'm so glad I returned today.
  • Post #65 - March 12th, 2008, 12:25 am
    Post #65 - March 12th, 2008, 12:25 am Post #65 - March 12th, 2008, 12:25 am
    About our GNR renewal meal last night, GAF wrote:

    The baby eels in garlic were amazing: aquatic shoestring potatoes. The goat was also astonishing, moist and tender. And the squid appetizer and flavorful venison (almost like a skirt steak) were very good as well. I also enjoyed the cod and the garlic soup. And the flambe desserts were a real treat, giving the restaurant a rather continental (i.e., European) flair.

    Casa de Samuel proved it self very worthy of a GNR renewal - for style and creativity.

    I was not enamored of all the dishes. The alligator was dry and tough; the rabbit was mundane; and the shrimp mole is not the best in town, disappointing compared to much else that we were served.


    I agree almost wholesale, and will just add some images of dishes not previously discussed or illustrated in depth, with apologies for the lighting / ISO noise / non-SLR camerage (at first we were in a power outage, and then the normal cavernous ambience):

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    Calamari al ajillo, quite Iberian, very tasty

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    "Eye-slaw" (Angulas a la Bilbaina), Spanish baby eels, would have been as at home in Cantabria / Pais Vasco as Guerrero or West Cermak

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    Kennyz's Soup of the Morning Undead (Sopa de Ajo), fire-breathing garlic soup with an inch-thick layer of slivered cloves under the broth. Good soup, deserves a better crouton.

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    Cabrito al horno, moist and crispy baby goat with guacamole and pasilla sauce (Gary's Chili Oil a la mexicana), for me the most well-balanced plate of the evening

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    Nugget of lagarto simply prepared in garlic and oil, one place I vary from GAF since I like the chewiness and singed edges that alligator acquires on a griddle

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    Shrimp and dumplings (?) in mole, a recommendation by Sergio, can't find the menu item online, was adequate

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    Filete en hoja de Mazorca, the fish of choice tonight was cod, bacalao, cooked in a corn husk with tomato, peppers, and onion, but pulled apart before served

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    Conejo en salsa verde, tender, unflashy rabbit

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    Combinacion Samy, which has steak, bone-in chicken, chorizo, and cactus strips. The sausage was exceptional, the other items standard.

    I've put some pictures of the other items (boar, deer, and dessert fixin's) in the other threads. The accompanying beans and salsas were all very good, and the house-made fat tortillas speak for themselves. I do think the basic chips were pretty lousy - can they be making these from those wonderful tortillas?

    No criadillas for the Chapulins this time, unfortunately, and the rattlesnake escaped from the cooler before we arrived. We'll pick them up next time.

    Telegraph to Mike G:
    NO OYSTERS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS MEAL [STOP]


    Excellent cooking (and onion-sculpting), a perfect cohort, and Sergio. A good night.
  • Post #66 - March 12th, 2008, 8:34 am
    Post #66 - March 12th, 2008, 8:34 am Post #66 - March 12th, 2008, 8:34 am
    I never know which thread to post in for this kind of thing, but the GNR renewal dinner organized by Santander at Casa de Samuel on Monday night was lovely. (I also get posting anxiety when it comes to GNRs. I don't know why...Sometimes I get too critical, and I think it sounds like I don't like a place. I'm not influential enough to sabotage a GNR nomination, but I think I don't want to risk it.)

    I, too, agree with GAF's comments. I hadn't had goat, boar or venison in at least 15 years (I've gotten more comfortable with game as an adult), and I enjoyed Casa de Samuel's preparations immensely. I'm also glad I got to try these dishes with a large group. For while I enjoyed the meats very much, I don't think I could have eaten large quantities of the goat or boar. (Though I will be back for those dishes in particular.) The venison tasted much more like liver than I remembered deer tasting. I love liver, so I could have easily eaten an entree of Casa de Samuel's venison by myself. This was my first taste of alligator. As has been noted, it was dry and tough, but I also just didn't care for the taste, which seemed even less interesting than chicken. Apart from the meats, I also enjoyed the salads, salsas and guacamoles that accompanied our entrees, and those tortillas... As I mentioned in the car on the way back from Casa de Samuel, I could happily eat tortillas on tortillas from there. :D Casa de Samuel is a very deserving GNR.
  • Post #67 - March 12th, 2008, 10:00 am
    Post #67 - March 12th, 2008, 10:00 am Post #67 - March 12th, 2008, 10:00 am
    Not much to add here. For me, the goat was by far the best dish. A saucy, crusty layer of sweet and spicy atop meltingly tender goat. Just a twinge of goatiness (perhaps we are dealing with the earliest of kids at this point in the Spring, and so their true goatiness is not yet expressed?). This meat was surprisingly reminiscent of a perfectly braised pork belly.

    Yes, there were some dishes that did very little for me, including the alligator and rabbit. Only got to taste the mole, no shrimps, so my only comment on that is that it was a strange preparation - chunks of bread in the mole, tiny shrimp.

    The starters were grand, if not as wonderful as the goat, and the company was excellent. My first Michelada was tasty, though I am told the almost identical to a bloody mary mix prep is not what one should always expect.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #68 - March 12th, 2008, 10:42 am
    Post #68 - March 12th, 2008, 10:42 am Post #68 - March 12th, 2008, 10:42 am
    dickson, santander, et al.,

    I'm delighted to hear all the positive reports from the dinner you all shared the other day and again regret not having been able to join you. I'm not surprised that the overall reactions to the meal and certain items in particular were very positive, nor am I surprised that some dishes didn't hit the same heights as others; I believe that already in the original post I wrote at the head of this thread -- already more than three years old! -- I politely mentioned that some of the offerings at CdS are not up to the level of their really outstsanding specialties.

    On a recent weekend, when seasonal dietary restrictions permitted, I enjoyed for the however-many-eth time the cecina de venado, which is to my mind a near perfect dish, at least for those who enjoy the flavour of the venison prepared this way. The simple union of the meat with the fresh tortillas and creamy guacamole is sublime... so too the cabrito and pasilla sauce...

    And my friend, Sergio and really all the staff I've interacted with there over the years are genuinely warm in their treatment of their guests.
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #69 - March 12th, 2008, 6:10 pm
    Post #69 - March 12th, 2008, 6:10 pm Post #69 - March 12th, 2008, 6:10 pm
    I'll be content when CdS receives its likely GNR renewal, but I wouldn't be offended if the powers that be deemed the place undeserving of such recognition. First, let me say thank you Santander for organizing a most pleasant evening with Sergio at what is truly a unique Chicago restaurant. Our tuxedo clad server, flambéed desserts, and uneven cuisine reminded me very much of many meals I've had in Mexico City. I feel as ambivolent about this one as I have about most of those.

    I have some biases. La Casa de Samuel is not, in general, the kind of place I like. Someone on the forum (is it MikeG?) has a principle with which I tend to agree: the more reasons there are to go to a place other than the food, the less likely I am to want to go to that place. La Casa de Samuel is in a gorgeous space with terrific artwork, some splashy dessert theater, and exotic, hard-to-find menu items.

    Some of the food is outstanding. The venison, which some have described as "livery," was intense, gamey, slightly chewy, and a true delight in my book. The goat made me question my defense of Frontera and its Tuesday night birria - CdS's goat was so much more flavorful. I loved it. The garlicky eel appetizer was such a pleasant combinations of flavor and texture. It felt like a slithery version of some of the best escargot preparations I've had in French bistros.

    On the other hand, much of what I tried left more than a little to be desired. The alligator was flavorless and unpleasantly chewy. It reminded me of what happens to calamari when it spends much too much time on the grill. It was saved - somewhat - by the copious use of garlic - a theme throughout the evening which I greatly enjoyed. This dish, the soup, and several other dishes used a heavier hand with the garlic than just about any place at which I've ever dined. A BIG plus in my book. The calamari dish helped me come up with the aforementioned description of the alligator, as it was actual overcooked calamari, and therefore an even better representation of that unpleasantly bland chewiness. While nicely omnipresent, garlic could not really save the soup, as the broth itself lacked any depth whatsoever, and tasted to me like warm, limey, unsalted water. I picked out and enjoyed the dozens of slices of almost-raw garlic, but left the broth for better uses (dish soap?).

    I understand the appeal of this place, and would happily return if invited . It probably won’t be on my regular rotation though. Then again, the fresh tortillas might themselves be wonderful enough to make the trip worthwhile.
  • Post #70 - March 4th, 2009, 12:34 pm
    Post #70 - March 4th, 2009, 12:34 pm Post #70 - March 4th, 2009, 12:34 pm
    Neat recent illustrated article mentioning the rattler at CdS -

    http://chicago.decider.com/articles/ext ... uth,23448/

    Anyone been lately? I may need to get down and visit with Sergio again soon.
  • Post #71 - October 8th, 2009, 3:15 pm
    Post #71 - October 8th, 2009, 3:15 pm Post #71 - October 8th, 2009, 3:15 pm
    When I look two posts up at the mixed report I gave last year, I understand why people call me a curmudgeon. La Casa de Samuel rocks. Sure, there are some things on the menu that could be better, but we'd have no GNR's at all if that were the standard. Where LCdS shines, it shines incredibly brightly.

    Hand-Made Tortillas:
    Image
    It doesn't get much better than this. You place your lunch order, then watch your tortillas being hand pressed and lovingly brushed with lard before the tortillera herself brings them to your table.


    Cabrito al Horno
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    Well-described upthread, and as deliciously goaty as ever. I'll add that the guacamole is clearly made to order, and is well-seasoned and tarter than many other versions - just how I like it.


    Cabrito Taco:
    Image


    It’ll be tough for dinner tonight at L2o to match the deliciousness of this lunch. La Casa de Samuel is a gem.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #72 - March 10th, 2010, 10:24 am
    Post #72 - March 10th, 2010, 10:24 am Post #72 - March 10th, 2010, 10:24 am
    I ate at Casa de Samuel last month. I can't say I was excited about the meal as others were, but that could be a result of the dishes we ordered. The highlight by far was the hand made tortillas that were delivered a couple minutes after we ordered. These were probably the best I've ever had and made anything you ate with them taste better. Also, we were there on a Saturday afternoon and were surprised to see a guitar player roaming the restaurant asking for requests. That, coupled with the people who went table-to-table selling candy, definitely made us feel like we were in a different world.

    Since we figured it will be a while before we return, we went for two of the more exotic items on the menu. First off was the rattlesnake.

    Rattlesnake
    Image

    The snake was sliced thin, battered, and fried. The flavor of the meat was pretty mild and the texture was quite rubbery. It tasted ok, but definitely not something I'd seek out. I'd had rattlesnake before, and it's always pretty tough, but this just wasn't a very impressive preparation. The outstanding salsa verde and tortillas, though, made every bite enjoyable. The rice was pretty mediocre, and the side of pasta salad was both surprising and disappointing.

    Credillas - Bull's Testicles
    Image

    Next up were the credillas. I'd been seeking this out since my father raves about the lamb's testicles he ate growing up in Turkey. I have to say I enjoyed the credillas and I wouldn't hesitate to order them again. They were soft and not at all chewy. They had a mild, liver-like flavor but a much more pleasant texture (not grainy at all). Paired with the red salsa and the tortillas, this was a very good dish. Yet, the preparation didn't strike me as particularly special. I felt like I could make something similar at home, if I could muster the courage to pick up a couple bull's testicles at the market.

    So overall, I felt like Casa de Samuel served me a good meal, but not something I'd travel 30 minutes for again.
  • Post #73 - March 10th, 2010, 10:36 am
    Post #73 - March 10th, 2010, 10:36 am Post #73 - March 10th, 2010, 10:36 am
    turkob wrote:I felt like I could make something similar at home, if I could muster the courage to pick up a couple bull's testicles at the market.

    Do it! Cooking with testicles is fun.

    Thanks for the post about LCdS. Looking at and thinking about those tortillas is making me very hungry. I don't think there's a place in town that does them nearly as well. You're also right that some of the cooking at the LCdS could be better, but some of it is so good and I find the people so hospitable, that I still consider it a favorite.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #74 - July 3rd, 2010, 11:26 am
    Post #74 - July 3rd, 2010, 11:26 am Post #74 - July 3rd, 2010, 11:26 am
    Last night at 8pm my friends and I were greeted by a largely empty dining room - perhaps because of the holiday weekend, because in the past I've found weekend crowds to be much larger. This worries me a bit because I really like LCdS and I can't help but think a lot of LTH'ers are missing out on this gem. It's not my favorite Mexican restaurant, but they offer some excellent dishes which are better than those offered at any Mexican restaurant around.

    We started with nachos which although seemingly pedestrian are really excellent here. Nice melted cheese, excellent beans, and some pickled jalapenos and carrots packing solid heat all atop some great chips make for the perfect version.

    Last night, the Cecina de Venado and Cabrito al Horno were outstanding, as always. The thinly sliced venison is so perfectly griddled, lightly salted and so flavorful without being overly gamy, and when tucked inside of one of the excellent house made tortillas with a little of the pasilla paste and some guacamole makes one of the best sandwiches I can think of. Don't tell me you don't like venison until you try this dish. And the moist and slightly fatty goat also packs wonderful flavor. In my opinion, the venison and goat are the two must haves as LCds.

    But, the Carne Asada is also great - not surprising.

    The guacamole and salsa fresca on the plate also pack quite the punch, both being better versions than most around.

    If you haven't been, make it a point to go and you'll see what you've been missing - great food, very friendly service. It's at Cermak (22nd) and California and street parking right in front of the restaurant is always a piece of cake.
  • Post #75 - October 26th, 2010, 2:05 pm
    Post #75 - October 26th, 2010, 2:05 pm Post #75 - October 26th, 2010, 2:05 pm
    Michelin inspector likes braised goat and tortillas at Casa de Samuel. Cool that these guys get off the main circuit of generally recognized top places.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #76 - October 27th, 2010, 4:48 am
    Post #76 - October 27th, 2010, 4:48 am Post #76 - October 27th, 2010, 4:48 am
    David Hammond wrote: Michelin inspector likes braised goat and tortillas at Casa de Samuel. Cool that these guys get off the main circuit of generally recognized top places.


    Let me dispel the obvious rumors: The goat with tortillas I pictured above and the Bristol's nutter butters with chocolate sabayon are dishes I've written about most lovingly on this forum. Both dishes appear on the inspector's short list of favorite things in Chicago. And, true to Pang's speculation about the inspector's gender, I am a dude. But no, I have not taken a job with the enemy.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #77 - December 3rd, 2010, 10:27 am
    Post #77 - December 3rd, 2010, 10:27 am Post #77 - December 3rd, 2010, 10:27 am
    Had a pleasant lunch at LCdS recently, which included high and low points.

    On the high side, LCdS served the best camarones al mojo de ajo that I've had in a long time. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and the garlic had been toasted to a beautiful, crispy golden color that lent fantastic nutty flavor to the dish. With the always fantastic, just-made tortillas, it was a most enjoyable dish. I even liked the steamed broccoli on the plate, which was topped with more of the garlic butter sauce.

    On the low side were the chiles en nogada, a dish I always seek out this time of year as it puts me right into the holiday spirit. When done well, chiles en nogada are full of balance and complexity, with sweet, earthy flavor coming from the walnut sauce, tartness and crunch from pomegranates, heat from poblanos, richness from melted cheese, and spiced meat in the filling adding to it all. Unfortunately, the version at LCdS fell flat from the beginning, as the walnut sauce which to me makes the dish was devoid of flavor. It was a generic "white sauce" that tasted like nothing more than reduced heavy cream. Making matters worse, the meat filling was completely bland, and the reheating process for the dish had failed, as the center was ice cold.

    Though the chiles en nogada failed to give me any holiday spirit, as evidenced by my surly LTHForum posts of late, the warmth from the staff made up for it. I continue to be a big fan, and will return to La Casa de Samuel plenty of times.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #78 - December 10th, 2010, 11:37 pm
    Post #78 - December 10th, 2010, 11:37 pm Post #78 - December 10th, 2010, 11:37 pm
    Unfortunately, the version at LCdS fell flat from the beginning, as the walnut sauce which to me makes the dish was devoid of flavor. It was a generic "white sauce" that tasted like nothing more than reduced heavy cream. Making matters worse, the meat filling was completely bland, and the reheating process for the dish had failed, as the center was ice cold.


    I had a similar experience some time ago at Amelia's--still, nevertheless, the best restaurant in its neighborhood, and I can say that categorically.

    I have a feeling that chiles en nogada is one of those dishes that doesn't do that well when served up reheated for lunch the next day.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #79 - December 14th, 2010, 8:08 pm
    Post #79 - December 14th, 2010, 8:08 pm Post #79 - December 14th, 2010, 8:08 pm
    BR wrote:The thinly sliced venison is so perfectly griddled, lightly salted and so flavorful without being overly gamy, and when tucked inside of one of the excellent house made tortillas with a little of the pasilla paste and some guacamole makes one of the best sandwiches I can think of.


    I can't say it better - this is the essential dish and experience for me. I didn't think last night was their best showing for meats (goat was dry, otherwise fresh and tasty snapper overdone, bullballs a little heavy on the mineral aftertaste), but the piping hot, elastic, almost buttery tortillas are the gold standard, and their "goatsauce" and guac turn any bite happy. Service was quick and accommodating, but no Sergio in sight. Company excellent. @turkob and kennyz, thankfully no pasta salad witnessed, and the chiles en nogada were well-executed this time, so they may have a mole here. Well, er, mole.
  • Post #80 - December 15th, 2010, 12:50 am
    Post #80 - December 15th, 2010, 12:50 am Post #80 - December 15th, 2010, 12:50 am
    I wish I'd gotten a photo of the Angulas a la Bilbaina - tasted just like pasta in a garlic sauce - if you didn't see their little eyes, you'd never know they were baby eels.

    I did get a photo of the aforementioned venison:
    Image
    Cecina de Venado

    Other dishes included:
    Image
    Camarones a la Plancha

    Image
    Huachinango the red snapper was only slightly overdone

    Image
    Chiles en Nogada

    Image
    Criadillas estilo Guerrero aka testicles

    I love the adventurousness of the menu, the great tortillas, and the light bread (which I'd never experienced before). I'll be back.
    Last edited by nr706 on December 15th, 2010, 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #81 - December 15th, 2010, 8:53 am
    Post #81 - December 15th, 2010, 8:53 am Post #81 - December 15th, 2010, 8:53 am
    Our recent visit tended more to the "mundana." Some dishes were really good (rattlesnake), some forgettable (shrimp) and one downright awful (pollo en mole). The abundant tortillas were Frontera-shamingly good, yet the chips, served with thin and flavorless salsa, were overcooked and stale. And, while I applaud them for hiring live musicians, THE MUSIC WAS SO LOUD THAT NORMAL CONVERSATION WAS IMPOSSIBLE. Was I shouting? Sorry.

    All in all, a not-so GNR.
  • Post #82 - December 15th, 2010, 9:05 am
    Post #82 - December 15th, 2010, 9:05 am Post #82 - December 15th, 2010, 9:05 am
    nr706 wrote:Image
    Pechuga en salsa India


    You sure about that? Looks an awful lot like chiles en nogada
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #83 - December 15th, 2010, 9:34 am
    Post #83 - December 15th, 2010, 9:34 am Post #83 - December 15th, 2010, 9:34 am
    'Tis Chiles en Nogada, indeed.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach

    I write fiction. You can find me—and some stories—on Facebook, Twitter and my website.
  • Post #84 - December 15th, 2010, 12:03 pm
    Post #84 - December 15th, 2010, 12:03 pm Post #84 - December 15th, 2010, 12:03 pm
    I dined here last weekend for maybe the sixth or seventh time over the past five years. It pains me to report that almost everything in my usual rotation was a notch or two below standard. Firstly, no Sergio. Friends in the neighborhood, regulars at CdS report that he has not been there at all in several months. His charm and congeniality I guess have always set the tone for wonderful meals there for me. Salsa en molcajete was nicely piquant and welcomed warm on a snowy night. Queso fundido, to me a hard thing to f*ck up, was not melted through, we had to send it back. Guac was mealy, made from unripe avocados. Cabrito was one-dimensional, particularly compared to the sublime plate of birria I'd had at Zaragoza earlier in the week (a bit of an unfair handicap going in for CdS). It was soft and not dried out, but seemed simply stewed to death. I've never been served this pasilla oil others rave about, do you have to specially order? I've converted from the cecina de venado to the normal beef cecina. It tastes fresher and the flavor profile is quite similar- I actually always wished the venado had a gamier thing going. And its like $5 cheaper and served with the same sides. Anyway, the cecina was almost up-to-par. perhaps a bit overcooked. The sides were atrocious though, aforementioned mealy guac and a cup of beans that in my estimation was straight from the can- suspended in that tell-tale viscous, milky liquid of canned beans. No added flavor, no onion, no nothing. My friend barely touched his seafood soup, didn't look worth trying either. I'm worried about this once favorite gem...
  • Post #85 - December 15th, 2010, 1:56 pm
    Post #85 - December 15th, 2010, 1:56 pm Post #85 - December 15th, 2010, 1:56 pm
    Pie Lady wrote:'Tis Chiles en Nogada, indeed.

    My bad. Fixed it.
  • Post #86 - February 10th, 2012, 10:28 am
    Post #86 - February 10th, 2012, 10:28 am Post #86 - February 10th, 2012, 10:28 am
    Do you think I need to make reservations for Saturday, since it's close to Valentine's Day?
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach

    I write fiction. You can find me—and some stories—on Facebook, Twitter and my website.
  • Post #87 - February 10th, 2012, 11:04 am
    Post #87 - February 10th, 2012, 11:04 am Post #87 - February 10th, 2012, 11:04 am
    Pie Lady wrote:Do you think I need to make reservations for Saturday, since it's close to Valentine's Day?

    When in doubt, call the restaurant. Better be safe than sorry.
    -Mary
  • Post #88 - March 26th, 2012, 11:57 pm
    Post #88 - March 26th, 2012, 11:57 pm Post #88 - March 26th, 2012, 11:57 pm
    The other morning, I found myself alone near 26th and California (don't ask) with some time to waste. I walked up the street and recognized Casa de Samuel from this forum, and decided to stop in for breakfast. What a wonderfully friendly place! Of course it was pretty empty on a Sunday morning, but they had no problem with me taking my time. I felt totally comfortable, and after dealing with the professional a__holes in the Cook County court system, some friendly faces were just what I needed. Anyhow, rather than going with a traditional Mexican breakfast, I could not resist Corn smut quesadillas on their handmade tortiillas. The things were absolutely delicious. The quantity of huitlecoche was overly generous, and the fresh tortillas were fantastic. I know smut is in the eye of the beholder,but these were some of some of the tastiest things I have eaten in a while. I can't wait to go back there for dinner to try some of the more exotic dishes (wild boar and alligator) off the extensive menu. I was also happy to see the GNR award proudly displayed, which added to the feeling of welcome. Anyhow, the friendly service, good simple food and the chuckle we all got watching the pope don a sombrero (on Telemundo), was just the respite I needed on an otherwise frustrating day. Casa de Samuel won a place in my heart.
  • Post #89 - October 7th, 2012, 5:58 pm
    Post #89 - October 7th, 2012, 5:58 pm Post #89 - October 7th, 2012, 5:58 pm
    It had been a little more than a year since I last visited La Casa de Samuel until a small group of us visited this past week. And while this was easily the worst meal I've ever had at LCdS, there was still enough to like that I'm not going to write it off. Rather, for now I'll chalk it up to an off night. We never asked for any hot salsa, but we should have because the salsa served this evening was really lacking. Heavy on tomatoes, thin, light in complexity and chiles. I left sort of kicking myself for not asking for another salsa - pretty sure they offer one and that I usually have it there. At least the chips were fresh and well salted.

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    table salsa


    Guacamole was a much better choice, fresh avocados and well seasoned:

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    Guacamole


    Baby eel in olive oil and garlic was also up to standard, with plenty of garlic. Nothing magical, but tasty and comforting.

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    Baby eels in olive oil and garlic


    Frog legs were a bit of a letdown, but I've never had them here before. Texture was off, but the sauce (perhaps guajillo based?) was terrific.

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    Frog legs


    Grilled quail was a very mixed bag - I had a beautifully moist wing but another piece that was dry and overcooked. Sauce, which seemed at least very similar (if not identical) to the sauce served with the frog legs and shrimp, was quite good though thanks to the complexity from the peppers. Shrimp could have been very good, if not for being overcooked. The supposedly spicy "Indian" sauce seemed rather mild too, but having not had this dish (or the quail) before, I can't tell if that was an aberration for LCdS. And I've never known LCdS as a place I go for fiery Mexican food.

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    Grilled quail

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    Shrimp in spicy Indian sauce


    One very positive note was the Chiles en Nogada, another dish I had never tried before at LCdS. The filling was delicious, the sauce undoubtedly tasted like walnuts, with my only minor complaint that I thought there might have been just a tad too much sugar in the walnut sauce. Still, a very good version.

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    Chiles en Nogada


    Less successful tonight was the Cabrito (goat), always one of my couple favorites here. The meat was delicious, but it was incredibly and unpleasantly tough. In the past, it's always been more tender with some juicy bits, and even better in the tortillas. This night, even their housemade tortillas could hardly save the dish. This was my biggest letdown of the night, just knowing how good this goat has been in the past.

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    Goat prepped tableside

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    Goat served and steaming


    And while I'd say the cecina de venado (venison) was not quite up to its usual perfect self, I'd still say it was very good, particularly with the housemade tortillas. I might have simply needed some hot salsa, although I also thought it was missing just a little of its usual gaminess.

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    Venison


    La Casa de Samuel has been one of my very favorite Mexican restaurants for several years, and I've always had terrific meals there. This meal was certainly not terrific - adequate and decent at best, really. Perhaps it was just an off night - I'm not aware of any changes in the kitchen. Or maybe there are just certain dishes that they do far better than others (although the goat was not even close to its usual prep). But there were some of the usual bright spots, and the chiles en nogada were very good, so I'm not going to write off LCdS. And service was as welcoming and efficient as it always is. Hopefully, on my next visit I'll be able to tell you that LCdS returned to its normally high standard.

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