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Nov 18, 2006 04:08 PM

El Faro mystery: were they abducted by aliens recently?

After having an awful dinner at El Faro, I re-read rave CH postings and now am so confused that maybe the explanation is that the good El Faro was abducted by aliens that can't cook.

The salad dressing was fluorescent orange and tasted like it came out of a bottle, the "Spanish" rice was totally flavorless, and both our dishes (shrimp and veal) were covered in gluey glop that tasted nothing like the wine or almond sauces that we ordered. I'm sure that a blindfolded diner couldn't identify either one.

Hard to imagine how a kitchen that could send out barely edible dishes like that could also produce great paella, etc, that others raved about. Any theories besides alien abduction? TIA.

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  1. Taken as a whole, I don't get the "rave" impression out of old Chowhound El Faro postings. The main one that sticks in my mind is that it's been on autopilot for decades and wasn't that great even when it was "great."

    1. In the old days, I regarded El Faro as an awful Plan B if the late lamented Rio Mar was full.

      In the end, its only merits are in bottles, taken at the bar.

      - Sean

      1. In anticipation of a visit to El Faro, I read all the negative commentary herein and elsewhere on CH. So I was prepared to hate the place. I didn't. `Unimaginative'? Well, maybe. This may be a case of either you get it or you don't, and there's no particular right or wrong. One thing I admired: The food comes to the table in solid metal casserole pots and the waiter leaves the lids, so your paella or gambas al ajillo remains piping hot throughout the meal. Am I the only person who gets annoyed at paying top dollar for lukewarm food? The garlic and green sauces were far from subtle, yes, but still satisfying. Shrimp was not overcooked, quite an achievement at a less than four-star restaurant, IMHO. Paella was redolent with safron; sangria was a little soda pop-ish, but it sure cut through the garlic.Is it as good as Madrid or the Costa Brava? Never been to either but I guess not. But as a once-in-awhile retro treat, it did the trick. (Guess you can't really call it `retro' since it never stopped being what it was originally in 1927, only to start back up again.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: dan f.

          "Am I the only person who gets annoyed at paying top dollar for lukewarm food?"

          I don't know. I would expect a lot of Americans would feel the same way. It's the way most of us were raised. But in Europe "lukewarm" is the way food is supposed to be served. You would never be served "piping hot" food. It dulls the flavor, not to mention burning your tongue. I'm all for lukewarm.

          As far as El Faro is concerned, I am somewhat surprised it is still in existence. I
          used to go there many years ago, there's nothing wrong with it but it was never anything to get excited about.

          1. re: rrems

            agreed about temp (fried food being a appropriate exception). There was a complaint about steak temp recently, and I bet it was a thick rare piece a cow. Oh brother...

        2. Add Sevilla to the ridiculous list of Chowhounders' glorified Spanish restaurants.

          The shame of it is that the current generation of Spanish chefs, the first adults of post Franco artisans, are incredibly inspired and talented.
          These old casserole pot restaurants are the equivalent of the red and white checkered tablecloth Italian places that we're happy to finally let go of.

          There is a dichotomy in NYC right now where Spanish food is being praised and recreated, almost ad nauseum, while at the same time continuing to be dumbed down and served in its worst incarnations, both being held to the same expectation.

          What's up with that?

          1. A friend of mine is my personal Spanish food expert. Based on his take on this restaurant, yes, they were abducted by aliens. But, given my pal's un-impressive experience, the aliens quickly spat them out.