As I mentioned on my Twitter and Tumblr pages as well as in my Photo Diary for Sunday August 7th, my wife and I tried a new restaurant in our area called Mina’s Spanish Kitchen. From what I can tell, it’s an existing restaurant from a nearby town that’s branching out, but their website is down, so I can’t say for sure (that’s also why I don’t have an address or phone number). While driving over to get cat food this weekend, I noticed that the place that used to be a so-so/nothing-to-write-home-about Mexican place had finally opened and was now serving Spanish food. I was intrigued as, as far as I can remember, I’ve never actually had Spanish food. I’ve been watching a ton of No Reservations and have an itch to try all kinds of new food, so this seemed like the perfect place to get dinner Sunday night.
The interior of the restaurant is a nice, dark tone, though didn’t exactly scream “fresh” and “new.” The tables were scratched up and the floor a little sticky. Not a huge deal, but something I noticed. I also noticed that the area that seemed like a bar was without liquor. I’m sure it’s a matter of getting all the paperwork approved, but I don’t like that look. These are just aesthetics, though, and don’t say anything about the food.
Thankfully, the food was good. We started off with crispy empanadas stuffed with chicken and they were wonderful. For our main course we both decided on pork mofongo, which is pork in and around a mound of plantains. My wife got fried while I got roasted pork and we got one of each of the available gravies: chicken and beef. I was glad to have my new phone because it allowed me to look the various dishes up on Wiki. Overall, I was pleased with the meal. The pork and gravy were packed with flavor, so much so that I kept shoveling in the plantains as well, but soon found myself fit to burst. It’s a very filling meal.
It wasn’t perfect though. While both gravies were amazing, I thought the few bites of fried pork I had from my wife’s plate were super fatty. I’ve gotten much more used to that texture over the years (used to cut it off and pass to my dad), but the last piece I ate made me gag a little. It was nearly all fat and way too chewy for me to stomach. I also thought that the plantains were fairly bland. I don’t know if that’s just the style or how they taste, but without the gravy there wasn’t a lot going on there.
As I mentioned, I am a complete novice when it comes to this food, so if fried pork is supposed to be fatty and plantains bland, I can accept that. I do know what I like to see in a restaurant, though, and Mina’s didn’t impress. Like I said, the dining room wasn’t much to look at. The empty bar didn’t help and the fact that soda was served out of a can or bottle also didn’t sit well. This place is supposed to be a legit restaurant, not a quick one to stop in at. I can assume that the idea is to get the place open to start making money while waiting for the liquor license and Coke machine to come in, but I wonder if it’s damaging to the place in the minds of people to come in and see a half-done establishment. It’s the king of thing that doesn’t sit well with me, though my wife didn’t seem to care.
I’m not completely perturbed though. Like I said, I’m interested in Spanish food and I liked what I had there. I’m curious to see what else I like from their kitchen, though I do hope they get a little more going on in the restaurant itself. You also can’t beat the prices which were far more reasonable than the former Mexican occupants who charged way too much for tortillas, rice and beans in one form or another. Next time, I might even try the mondongo, a soup made out of tripe. Hey, I’ve heard good things…on TV. Overall, I’d give the place a C+ with definite room for improvement.