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Dec 9, 2006 01:13 AM

La Casa de Pedro - First Look at Pedro's New House

We went to La Casa de Pedro at his new location tonight. It's in the space vacated by Red Sauce in the Arsenal. He has four times the space the old place had, a full bar with seating, and live music (though we missed that). The food was terrifc as always. My wife had Salmon Pedro Martinez, which she thought was excellent and I had Parillada Caraquena, which was great. The new space is great, really elegant. Pedro was checking in with all the tables as he did in the old place. He's going to put on a lot of miles in the new layout. Service was a little spotty, some tables got bread, our's didn't, they forgot my beef empanada appetizer but they brought me two for one when I reminded them (I can live with that).

Pedro must have raked it in at the old place or come up with a hell of a business plan because the new place is an incredible step up. He should have a built-in crowd with the New Rep next door along with his old loyal customers. There's plenty of parking in the area as well.

Hopefully Pedro can have better luck with this seemingly-cursed location than the Naked Fish/Red Sauce folks did. As an aside, the job that's been done to renovate the old Arsenal is really great. Whoever was responsible for planning it should be commended for the wonderful mix of retail/office/living/arts spaces.

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  1. I had tried a lunch in the old smaller place and it was fine, but the flan (I think they call it milk flan or quesilla) was amazing, dripping with superb caramel, and smooth and creamy. So I went back eagerly to the new, larger place. What a disappointment! I ordered a salad with grilled chicken on it, and the chicken's only discernible flavor was burnt. The salad had no dressing that I could taste (it was supposed to have a lemon garlic one, I think), so I asked for more on the side. About ten minutes later the waiter came by with a dish of chopped tomatoes in olive oil saying this is all they had! And the flan was completely lacking in any caramel at all--it was a baked custard but in no way resembled the treat I had had in Watertown Square. I will never go back.

    1. (Sorry if there's a more recent Casa de Pedro thread -- this is what came up when I searched.)

      Had dinner in the new place last night. I was happy to see that even around 6 p.m., it was pretty full -- this bodes well for having the restaurant stick around for a while, unlike the past few restaurants that have been there (all owned by the same people, I think). By the time we left it was packed. We were very curious about what kind of deal Pedro got on the place, which is huge but as noted above, has not been a successful location.

      We enjoyed our dinner. We started with salad "a la Raquel" with roasted chicken, avocado, somewhat mealy tomato, romaine lettuce, and cilantro dressing. Tasty, although the salads tend to be overdressed here. For entrees, he had the paella (not the best ever, but good, and generous with the seafood) and I had the Salmon Ruben Blades, grilled salmon topped with sauteed red bell pepper, onion, and shrimp. The salmon was well-done, but still tender, with a crispy exterior.

      I always save room for the flan at Casa de Pedro and it seems they've changed it. They used to have individually baked flans. Now it looks like they make one big flan and serve you a slice. Portions are larger (and still only $4), but the texture isn't the same -- it's creamy on the inside but spongy on the outside, and the caramel is sweeter and less intense. It still tastes good but it's no longer a reason for going there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pia

        I went recently and was surprised to see it was PACKED at 7 p.m. on a freezing cold Friday night. We waited a while for a table. The hostesses were extremely disorganized. Most people walked through the door and stood at the desk for a while before getting noticed. Frankly, it was really annoying to watch three people stand there oblivious how to deal with waiting patrons.

        We started with the grilled Venezualen cheese. It wasn't spectacular but it hit the spot in a salty comfort food sense. We had the Compleao de Pedro (Pedro's Birthday Dish) and the paella. The flank steak was very good and the chorizo was interesting, more like a blood sausage. I didn't mind the flat texture and gamey taste but my partner didn't love it. The fried yucca was over done. The paella was fine. I should have read the menu more clearly. The "slightly fried" squid was heavily breaded and got a bit soggy. We found both entree were over salted. Service was pretty good, especially considering it was our servers second night on the job. Pedro stopped by to say hello but he seemed distracted/irritated by the wait at the hostess stand. Seems like some things are lost in translation at the new location. I'm sure the increased volume is the problem. I hope they figure it out because it's a shame to see a place that was so solid slide downhill.

      2. I had been at the old location and was pleasantly surprised. I went today for lunch to the new location and it was fine. I'm recommending it because a) the outdoor patio is wonderful in this weather; b) you can linger over drinks because it wasn't crowded at all on Saturday at 12:30; c) there are a lot of god awful shite places in Cambridge that are packed with people who want a good atmosphere, so why not go to a place that has decent food?

        Atmosphere was very pleasant. Service was fine. Venezuelan cheese in puff pastry was prepared nicely. The sticks had great texture and delicate flavor. Unfortunately they were too salty. I also am surprised they didn't come with any sort of dipping sauce, which would have been welcome. They did come with some nice big Peruvian-like popcorn kernels. The roasted chicken lunch special was good. The chicken and yuca were smothered in a tasty, not-too-tangy green sauce that I've had before but don't know what it's called. The chicken was decent. There wasn't a whole lot of meat, though it had a lot of skin, and most of my time was spent picking around the bone. Aside from the sauce it didn't have much flavor. The yuca frita was done pretty well. Plantains were good--pretty hard to mess those up! Beans and rice were above average. The whole plate, btw, was too salty. This chicken lunch special (minus the cheese sticks) cost about $8 and was a fine value.

        I suspect that if you order well you can have a very nice meal here. Recommended just for a relaxed patio lunch.

        2 Replies
        1. re: aventinus

          I had a pretty disappointing experience there, pre-theatre, and frankly, I won't be going back. The food was medicore at best, and the shrimp ceviche was particularly bad. We had maybe 4 or 5 small plates, and in each case the seasonings were off or the quality of ingredients was less than fresh. The drinks were also a let-down. I dunno, it seems like it had a lot of promise, but the food was blah, and the service was maddeningly unattentive, which seemed odd considering they had to know a good percentage of customers were heading to the theatre, as Pedro's about the only sit-down option in that area. Overall, an irritating dining experience.

          1. re: litchick

            Given the unpleasant saltiness of all my food and the plethora of complaints, it seems like quality control is pretty low. But for an outdoor lunch around $10 it's worth a try.

        2. The menu sounds interesting. I also noticed that they have brunch on Sundays -- has anybody been to investigate this?

          Also curious about dress for this place. It's hypothetically within reach of a bike ride for us from our house, but would it be OK to show up in a t-shirt and bike shorts for lunch in this place?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Dr.Jimbob

            That kind of dress would probably be OK if you sat on the patio for lunch when it wasn't crowded (e.g., when I went). Given the wait staff's lamentations about the slow business, I'm sure they would have been thrilled to have you.