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Mama Iguana- Northampton, MA

c
caughtstars Mar 28, 2007 12:00 PM

Has anyone been to Mama Iguana, the new Mexican place where La Cazuela used to be? It's the latest restaurant from the owner of Spoleto, Del Raye, and Paradiso.

  1. k
    knewhall Apr 4, 2007 02:37 PM

    Yes. It was not a good experience. I don't know if it's an issue of it being a new restaurant and things have just not been worked out but we waited a very long time for our food--about an hour. Granted we were a large group (8) but it was a Monday evening. Duties among staff still need to be worked out. Water (which was warm and without ice and in small glasses) was a long time coming. Our waitress was perpetually messing up. Our food came out in various stages and the appropriate sides seemed to never match the entrees. Some of our entrees were wrong. The waitress did not do a good job explaining the menu. They seemed to be trying too hard to be "authentic." The food was not that good for what we paid--and endured. Sure it's a cute restaurant but the small size means it gets very loud. Am not planning on going back.

    1. n
      nohosgotnofood Apr 6, 2007 02:41 PM

      If you're going to open, be ready to open. Tried to order to go on 8th day and was turned away after spending 5 minutes on hold. Typically and unfortunately, the staff was rude as well (even though the owner is not) so it added to the experience. Agree with above...get bottled in Northampton however, with amazing modern conveniences like...freezers...it shouldn't be warm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nohosgotnofood
        c
        caughtstars Apr 8, 2007 07:19 AM

        i went with a group of 5 last week. i agree that the drinks were excellent- house margaritas and sangria were top notch. we had a mixed reaction to our food. first off, there really needs to be an option for corn tortillas on the menu. the filling for the carne asada tacos was delicious, but were served with flour tortillas. i also had a chop chop salad with chipotle chicken that was pretty good, but not great and my friend had a pork mole dish that was far too salty. hopefully, the place will improve once it settles in.

      2. a
        alice11 Apr 24, 2007 11:20 AM

        Went to this restaurant on Saturday night, I wasn't extremely impressed.
        The drink menu was definitely the best thing about the place.
        The service was okay, but not great. the appetizer was cold and came out at the same time as the entrees.
        I got the Mole Verde with chicken, and it was basically a giant pile of watery chicken with a tiny bit of flavorless sauce on top. Would definitely not order it again, but my friend got the carne asada which he was happy with.
        I would be willing to try this place out again, but my first experience was kind of so-so.

        2 Replies
        1. re: alice11
          b
          Big Fat Moe Apr 27, 2007 07:51 AM

          I've been three times and have been underwhelmed every visit. I won't be back. The food is too heavy on a variety of semi-authentic moles that saturate either shredded pork or chicken. The tacos were embarrasing. The beans and rice are third rate. Guacamole was very good, prepared tableside. The help is not well trained; was charged for items I didn't order twice. The margs were small, overpriced and poorly prepared. I don't know what the owner is thinking (he does a fine job with Del Raye, Spoleto, and Paradiso) but he has a real loser on his hands here. The place needs a complete overhaul already.

          1. re: Big Fat Moe
            h
            homesick for food Apr 27, 2007 11:45 AM

            Are we really surprised that once again, a pseudo-ethnic place opens up w/the typically Noho combo mediochre food, high prices, poor service, a hokey name, etc? When it comes to good food, this town is a bit cursed...

        2. w
          wijiji Jul 13, 2007 07:17 PM

          Ooh - Tableside Guac! That's so...2005. And not even that good. The Guac was a bit dry where it could have used a dash of lime juice. Or some of the juice from my watery crabmeat enchilada. The salt is supposed to be on the rim of a Margarita glass, not stirred into the drink. I know the laminated drink menu with 57 varieties of Tequila is supposed to impress the hipsters, or at least the psuedo hipsters, but the folks at La Cazuela - this restaurant's predecessor - prepared fabulous margaritas, and more imaginative food, at more reasonable prices. I only just returned to Northampton after spending eight months down south, so you would think, after almost a year of Nascar and Fried Chicken, I would be grateful to return to Northampton, a town I once, with only a dash of irony, referred to as "The Paris of Western Massachusetts". No more. It's like being George Bailey and discovering Old Man Claudio - I mean, Potter, really does own Bedford Falls. Green Street Cafe - GONE! La CaZauela - GONE! Cha Cha Cha's - GONE! Bart's - GONE! Okay those last two one left awhile ago but I still miss them. And do we really need yet another Dunkin' Donuts? On Main Street, no less? Has this town no shame? Okay, back to Mama Iguana. Our waitperson was very good - attentive without being obsequious -nice job with the tableside gauc, BTW - But by then I had mistaken my Margarita for a glass of seawater, my forearm was sticking to the plastic tablecloth, and the salsa had already disappointed with its blandness. My wife had eaten here one month previously and was disappointed with her meal then. So the good news is that her expectations were precisely met this time. So you have to give Mama Iguana's credit for consistency. That's not easy in the restaurant biz. My take on this place is that Mr. Claudio Guerra, who already owns several fine restaurants in Northampton, saw a business opportunity here, and, like Citizen Kane ("I think it would be fun to run a newspaper") saw it as one more sprig of Laurel for his toque. But that's the problem. This is a franchise, or something posing as one. The Guerra Food Court is getting crowded. Any great or even good restaurant depends on a precarious mix of location, staff, chefs, and passion. So far, Mama Iguana has a great location. But that's not enough. And that's too bad, because this town could really use a good Mexican restaurant. Until the recent demise of La Cazuela, it had one.

          2 Replies
          1. re: wijiji
            h
            hollerhither Jul 14, 2007 11:51 AM

            I do agree that the closing of the (original, not India House-owned) Cha's was a loss. But I had a terrible meal at La Cazuela and, despite a good margarita, vowed never to go back -- so I can't agree with you there. Certainly the reviews of Iguana Mama's don't inspire me to visit that space now.

            1. re: hollerhither
              h
              hollerhither Jul 14, 2007 11:56 AM

              Or should I correct, Mama Iguana's. :) Getting the name wrong isn't a good sign, I guess!

          2. p
            ParentMK Jul 14, 2007 06:44 PM

            I would in no way, shape, or form recommend Mama Iguana's... I went there and was in the mood for some shrimp fajitas... three soft shells ok, that's a normal amount, what would you think for the amount of shrimp for 3 soft shells with shrimp that are small... maybe 12-15 for the $15 they charge for the entree... WRONG! SIX small shrimp is all they gave me for $15 and three soft shells, I was so pissed, I thought surely half of my meal was missing... sure they gave me a bunch of onions and peppers, but where in the world is all the shrimp! not to mention my mother had the chicken fajitas and the number of sliced chicken pieces in the dish no where near amounted to even close to one solid chicken breast, ridiculously poor portions... chips were good, friends liked the margaritas... other than chips and drinks it's a no go

            1 Reply
            1. re: ParentMK
              CapeCodGuy Aug 7, 2007 02:09 PM

              Strange negative review...how can you expect to get $10 (at cost) worth of shrimp on a $15 (retail) plate? Too many dishes like that and any restaurant goes out of business. Would you have paid, say, $20-25 for that many shrimp? Doubtful.

            2. o
              OedipaMaas Sep 21, 2007 12:20 PM

              a god awful restaurant experience. I went a total of three times, hoping against hope the owners would get their act together. the beans are terrible and were served cold. Canned beans taste better. The salsa is a watery tomato based something or another. Nothing flavorful there. Please close! Stick to Italian food if that's all you fricking know.

              1 Reply
              1. re: OedipaMaas
                f
                famedalupo Sep 26, 2007 06:06 AM

                Agreed. The only thing this place has going for it are the $2 mango shrimp plates from 4:30-6 (drink purchase necessary for $2 tapas deal). I think I've tried all their tapas plates (popular desination after softball games, etc) and they are all poor to mediocre, only the shrimp turn out well. Decent plain margaritas.

              2. r
                rootie kazootie Dec 29, 2007 07:15 AM

                There last night, first time, with 3 others. Had gone looking for La Cazuela. Not good, chief complaint being $40 for 4 watered-down drinks! Maybe I'm just out of touch. Next, chips and salsa, the salsa was very bland. Next complaint, they had a guacamole 'special' the waitress recommended over the tableside guac. "An extra 50% in quantity". We got it and it arrived looking like 3 eggs in size. Shortly after, the tableside guac was prepared next door, much bigger! Flavor-wise, our 3 scoops were ok, nothing special, not as good as home made and we're no gourmets. Then the entrees... I ordered the chile relleno with mole poblano. I enjoyed it but had never had it before so I cannot say how good it was. It *was* large, though, I took some home. My cohorts ordered fajitas and tacos, decent portions but they should be for around $15 each. They all finished theirs without comment. The sides of beans and rice were pathetic. The waitress was fine, fairly attentive without being too much in our faces. All told, over $100 for 4 dinners and drinks, and except for the mole we could have had this - better- at home for maybe 10 bucks, maybe 15. Rip off! We've enjoyed Claudio's italian before, Spoleto and Paradiso anyway, and never came away with any complaints. I wish we'd seen these reviews first, but had only Googled for Cazuela.

                1. s
                  snowcap Jan 27, 2008 05:32 AM

                  I went to Mama Iguana last night for the first time. I tried making reservations for a party of 10. I called on Friday at lunch time. They couldn't process the reservation. I had to call back at 4:00 to talk to someone else. That was the first irritant. When we got there on Sat. night, our table wasn't ready. Our back-up table wasn't ready either. We got a list of lame excuses from the hostess. She offered a round of drinks on the house that we had to wait a half an hour for. The wait staff was very nice but everything was served late along with that list of excuses. When we got our food, we even had to wait longer for the SILVERWARE! HELLO!!! And I can't say the food was out of this world. It was good, but I've had better. And for the excuses...they own many other restaurants. You would think they'd have the experience and knowledge to prepare for a busy Saturday night. They ran out of many items on the menu, including most of the dessert items. They apologized with free dessert (again, with excuses). I don't plan on returning and I don't think anyone else in the party will either. They might just eat up the profits by giving people free items to make up for their mistakes!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: snowcap
                    cowgirlinthesand Jan 27, 2008 08:26 AM

                    I live in the Berkshires, but i can't imagine NOT going to La Veracruzana for great Mexican food in Norhthampton.
                    We went 2 weeks ago - hot fresh chips, great salsas (there's a bar with 5 kinds in bowls) The chipotle salsa is to die for.
                    Guacamole was fresh, straightforward and delicious.
                    Chile Rellenos (for 6.95!) was one of the better ones I've eaten. Spicy enough, great cheeses melting inside, perfect batter.
                    Good enough rice and beans - amazing value.

                    I be back!

                    1. re: cowgirlinthesand
                      BratleFoodie Feb 5, 2008 08:23 AM

                      Cowgirl, you are so right! My sister lives in Noho, and we hit La V. every now and then. Casual, friendly, tasty, great value. Went recently with friends who have a 7 year old boy. No problems at all.

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