Rivera: Sleek but Kinky
We tried out Rivera (Downtown on Flower/11th) on Saturday night, and were both puzzled and pleasantly surprized. They definitely have some kinks to work out, but overall - the staff tried really hard and the food was decent.
First, I should say that it was only their second night "live" - and the waitstaff was exceptionally attentive. REALLY attentive - because we were two of only 8 people in the place. I thought this was odd because when I'd called for a reservation - I was told that the place would be "packed" and that the only available times for seating were 5:30 and 9:00 PM.
We picked 5:30, and when we arrived - we saw only two other patrons. We were escorted to a corner counter that had a clear view of the kitchen. We sat, alone at the counter that would have seated 12 for over 1 1/2 hours. Tables throughout the restaurant were also available - so I'm not sure why we were relegated to the corner -but I digress.....
We started with a $4.00 serving of roasted habanero "hound's snout" salsa and "mini chips". The chips were salty and stale, and the roasted pepper salsa was not remarkable. Better has been served gratis at many a decent Mexican joint.
We then received the "Crudo" - which was a soft and fresh combination of thinly sliced scallop with cucumber, and strangely flavorless horseradish "pearls". The scallops alone saved the dish.
We also had the mussels with chorizo - which was supposed to come with grilled bread. The bread came after we finished the mussels. So - we used it for dipping in the delicious sauce. The mussels were not so special - but the broth was really something special.
We then added the mini-lamb chop and roasted duck tapas to our order. Both were well seasoned and perfectly cooked.
The best part of the meal was our dessert that was a baba cachaca - a little sweet bun with chantilly cream and blood oranges. Super!
The drink - "Rivera's Cup" - a mosh of lime, cucumber and anejo tequilla, was refreshing and a delightful blend of the light ingredients.
We then enjoyed a few tequilla suggestions from the bar manager - both were amazing.
I'd go back again just for the duck, the tequilla, and the really friendly staff!
Maybe we had enough tequilla so that it rounded off the pointy edges. I think I'm also a little hesitant to really slam them for some of the inconsistencies because they are so new. I hope that they rev up the timing - reconsider some of the pricing - and keep driving forward with fresh ingredients, great service, and ....of course....lots of great tequilla options.
Overall - the prices were mid-range.
"Snacks" (to your point some should have been free) - ranged from $4 - $8
"Tapas" $8 - $13
"Main" - we didn't have any, but if I recall were in the $13 - $22 range
"Drinks" - a little high at $12 - but fresh ingredients make a difference
Tequillas had a very wide range - but we were thrilled to see so many unique and delicious selections. I'd rely on the bar manager to suggest.
Website is really tedious and overworked - with navigation titles like "Philosophy" and "Principals" - I'm not sure we need both - but you guys can judge: http://www.riverarestaurant.com/