Monday, June 6, 2011

No Corn Smut at Doña Cata Mexican Foods

Doña Cata Mexican Food on Urbanspoon
Still having a run of bad luck with restaurants and big parties...
This time it's at Doña Cata Mexican Foods, where Earthsave / The Vancouver Meatless Meetup had arranged a vegan "authentic Mexican dinner".

The restaurant normally closes at 5pm on Sundays, so they were open especially for us after hours at 7pm. Our group of 30 would have taken over the whole place anyway as the left side of the restaurant is mostly the counter and some cooking space, and the right side is the seating.

The $20.50 fixed menu ($2 going to Earthsave) was:
  • guacamole platter with tortilla chips
  • cactus taco (medium size taco with with beans, cactus, cilantro and onion), refried beans, mexican style rice
  • half of huitlacoche (corn smut) quesadilla
  • half of zucchini squash flower quesadilla

The guacamole was very bland for my tastes, quite a few people promptly went for the assorted condiments at the counter which were mostly an assortment of salsas.

Next came a plate with rice, refried beans, and a taco with green strips of cactus. Refried beans are refried beans, and nothing to write home about. The cactus tasted like pickles because they were pickled, though not so sweet or tart as regular pickles. They also had a somewhat slimy feel, so if you don't like slimy feeling foods or don't care for pickles, give cactus a pass.

Following the rice/taco plate was a bowl of what looked like some sort of corn and tomato stew, with chopped up white bits -- squash? Zucchini? Definitely neither huitlacoche (corn smut) nor a quesadilla. It was announced at this time that there was, and would not be, any corn smut.
This was extremely disappointing to me because it was the main attraction for this dinner. The restaurant owner explained that the delivery hadn't made it on time, and that she'd actually have to drive down tomorrow to pick it up from across the border.
Honestly, I didn't buy this explanation. Who delivers on a Sunday anyway? And the dinner was posted on May 24th, 2011, so it would have had to be negotiated with the restaurant before then. Surely they could either have arranged for corn smut, or told us of the possibility that it wouldn't be available on time. It's not as if all 30 of us had descended on the restaurant and suddenly decided to order something with corn smut. And who delivers on a Sunday, anyway?
This echoed of the sharply limited menu at Barin Russian even though they knew how many to expect in our party -- if a restaurant can't cater to large groups properly, they really should say so up front.

Anyway, one last thing left on the menu -- the squash flowers. Yes, "flowers", not "flour". We were served a half quesadilla each, with a mixture inside that looked like boiled chopped-up zucchini and chopped up tomatoes. No sign of anything flowery, but we were assured that the squash flowers were chopped up in there.
Okaaay... In any case, it was another bland item.

It'd be pretty sad for Mexicans if this meal were truly indicative of how Mexicans ate at home. Not having meat is one thing -- not having taste is another.

Overall, bland flavours made for boring food, and combined with empty promises, this made for a profoundly disappointing $20.50 spent.

Doña Cata Mexican Foods does feature a vegetarian menu which might be tastier because real cheese would be allowed (real cheese isn't on the vegan diet because dairy = veal = evil).
After tonight's showing on the vegan menu -- a menu recommended by the restaurant, apparently -- I'd go somewhere else to dine out vegan.

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