Cocina Poblana in Oakland
Hmmm ... I was about to write it off until I read the last paragraph about the drinks ...
"Or enjoy your spirits in one of the well-crafted house margaritas; the avocado variety sounds iffy, but the combination of Pueblo Viejo reposado, herbaceous elderflower, and rich, velvety avocado pear is as complex and tantalizing as the food should be"
My friends and I ate their last Friday night. I believe that an earlier CHer reported on the Starburcks like decor. It's true. And the food had the same mass marketed flavor, I am so very sorry to say. Marlon and EatNopal ate at the Emeryville version. Marlon liked; EN was sadly disappointed. www.chowhound.com/topics/367823 I agree with EN. The restaurant calls itself, "The Art of Mexican Cooking," or some such thing. No way, not in a million years.
We were very quickly shown to our table upon entering. A very good start. However, the waitstaff have these blackberry like notepads to take the orders and our waitress really didn't have the hang of hers. CP has a lot of variety of tequilas, but we didn't get to taste what we ordered because whatever she was transmitting to the bar got lost in the translation and we ended up with some bizarre results.
We ordered the botanas surtidas, a combination of appetizers (about 14 bucks) and the guacamole and chips (12.00). I noticed that the menu prices salsas and chips and didn't remember that from the other CH reports. I asked the waitress and she said, "We usually make you order them and the salsas are made at your table, but I'll have them brought without charge."
The B.S. were good. A huarachito, quesadilla loaded w/ cheese and veggies, an empanada of spicy sausage and some potatoes and an empanada of shrimp. All were quite tasty, really. The guac was supposed to be made at the table, but wasn't and the flavor was uninspiring. The chips were store bought and slightly stale. Two salsas were brought to the table and there difference was in heat, not in flavor.
We chose five main courses: the carnitas, the mariscada, two moles and the chicken in pumpkin sauce. Each about 15.00 or 16.00. My girlfriend ordered the mariscada because the menu said that it was cooked in white wine. If it was, the wine was entirely masked by this very heavy (and not in a good mole way) sauce that had no real flavor. The moles were also unpleasant. The chile guajillo mole was not much different than the chicken in the pumpkin sauce. And both tasted of little more than the chicken and not the spices and chiles.
The entrees come on large, white, square plates. Very large. But you are allowed rice, or beans, or veggies, but not two or three of three. So, there's a whole lot of plate and very little food.
I really wanted to like this restaurant, but it was expensive and the food was at best blah. Much better food can be found on a good taco truck crawl.
P.S. SusaninSF, Albondigas soup is on the menu for Monday and Wednesday.