Ole --What happened?
My husband & went to Ole a few times --probably about 3-4 years ago or so -- & really enjoyed it. We remembered there being interesting specials, great food & cocktails...our friends warned us that it changed, but my husband really wanted to go back. We learned to trust our friends.
Although the restaurant wasn't packed, we waited ten minutes before our water glasses were filled and then another 5 before our waitress our existence although she came back & forth to the table next to us a few times (A, "I'll be with you in a minute" is all I would ask for here).
First we ordered the "famous" guacamole which the menu indicates is prepared tableside. The waitress told us our guacamole was being made & pointed to the back of the restaurant saying there wasn't enough room to wheel the cart into the dining room anymore. The guacamole was nothing special --heavy on citrus & cilantro. The chips were boring & hard. The salsa was oddly smoky & sweet.
For main courses I ordered the Pescado a la Veracruzana which was listed on the menu as being red snapper. The waitress said that the fish served is no longer snapper but tilapia. I remembered from my experience several years ago that this was a delicate dish with snapper fillets over a bed of cilantro rice in a light tomato broth with olives, capers, etc. What I got were two thick & over-cooked white fish fillets which I question whether they were actually tilapia, absolutely covered in a gloppy, over-spiced mess of olives, tomatoes, onions, capers, etc. On the side was a small pyramid of lukewarm cilantro rice. DH got the Costillas de Puerco ("bbq" ribs) with mashed red potatoes. He only ate two of the four ribs which has probably never happened in his lifetime. The mashed potatoes were gluey in consistency (I tried a bite) and he said the ribs were more fat than meat. We also shared a pitcher of sangria which contained no fruit and tasted like sugary fruit punch.
Needless to say, we will not be returning.
That's too bad. Ole has its shortcomings but I often have pretty good meals there and think of it as one of the only decent places for 'upscale' Mexican. I guess it depends a lot on what you order.
I haven't been impressed with Ole in three or four visits, either. I keep wanting to like it (thus the three or four visits, rather than just one), but so far have always ended up wishing I'd spent half as much and gone to Tacos Lupita or Taqueria la Mexicana.
But if you're looking for "upscale" Mexican, my wife and I just finally went to Casa Romero for the first time, and thought that was much more like what Ole ought to be.
re: glenn mcdonald
I had always been a fan of Ole, so am disappointed to hear these reports.
But Casa Romero? Really? I went twice (to give them a second chance), but no, I still found their food bland and unimaginative, and the margaritas just plain sour. It was pricey, for sure, but that's all that I found "upscale".
Agreed - Casa Romero isn't awful, but it's really "gringoized" Mexican food - not particularly imaginative. When we first moved to Boston we read and heard many good things about the place but were really let down (though keep in mind we moved from California). We were MUCH happier at Ole - though it's been a while since we've been there. I'd rather go to Border Cafe than Romero any day :-)
Their former sister restaurant in Arlington, now called Zocalo Cocina, has maintained the charm and quality that you recall from Ole. I've eaten there 2 - 3 times in the past year and will absolutely be returning.
Well, as I said, only one visit to Casa Romero, so it's a "try this and see what you think" mention, not a "this is consistently fabulous" endorsement. I agree that Romero isn't particularly eccentric or intense, but I never got the impression that Ole was attempting to be either of those things, so they seem like similarly-minded places to me.
I've also only been to Zocalo once. It seemed a little less "fancy" than Ole to me, maybe like Ole crossed with Picante, but that may be partly a function of the atmosphere. I don't remember the menu in much detail. Whatever I had was decent, but not inspiring, and we don't live very near it.
My personal pick for non-cheap Mexican is Tu y Yo, which has actively and repeatedly impressed me. But that's a pretty different feel and taste from Ole/Romero/Zocalo.
Ordered from there today. Had the mariscada and a side of sauteed spinach with pine nuts. Both were good. The portions were too small. The seafood was very good quality, but I couldn't help wishing it was Muqueca's mariscada (seafood not quite as good, but a far larger portion, more flavor, and the plantain side dish for like $8 cheaper). It was definitely enjoyable though. The spinach was simple and predictable but very tasty.
A nice, light dinner, unremarkable for the price. I'd probably recommend Tu y Yo or Forest Cafe instead.