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Antigua, GT: Como Como

rworange Jan 21, 2011 02:00 PM

Not here, not here

Como means “I eat” in Spanish and I won’t eat here again.

That’s too bad. These were the nicest people in the world and if I could eat hospitality, I’d be a regular customer.

To give them as many positive comments as I can … they will make most dishes vegetarian, dogs are welcome (there’s a nice front patio area), this month’s menu looks more interesting than my visit in December. One of the current desserts is blackberries flambé with vanilla ice cream and toasted almonds.

Another ray of hope – the free house-made chocolates served with the check were excellent. If only the other dishes matched that quality. Also, they are big on the freebies with an amuse buche, salad and chocolates.

When they opened, in 2008, they had a concept which they seem to have abandoned - “table d'hôtes” which in France is the idea of everybody sitting at a big table, meeting new people and being attended by the owners

Looking at their 2009 menu on Facebook, I would guess that this didn’t appeal to local tastes which run to the conventional and familiar. Also, the price was a little high by Guatemalan standards
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=218023111536&set=a.217191651536.140191.46157676536

The owners are Belgium, and some dishes are marked as such, but they were dishes like chocolate mousse, which didn’t seem particularly Belgium to me.

Here's what I had rated from A+ to F -
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/737141

C - ..... Amuse buche: Gazpacho and crackers with ‘queso fresco’ & eggplant tapenade
D - …. Complimentary dinner rolls and butter
C …... Watercress soup with croutons
D - …. Filet pur – Lomito de maitre d’hotel with Como Como sauce
C + … Complimentary salad
D …... Chocolate mousse
D + … Glog
B + … Complimentary chocolate mendiants

Service: B + … Very, very good
Ambiance: C + … Slightly above average

Restaurant record with more info such as address, phone, hours and menu http://www.chow.com/restaurants/918224

Flickr photostream with more pictures
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7685047@...

 
 
 
 
 
  1. rworange Jan 21, 2011 02:04 PM

    COMO COMO DETAILS

    AMUSE BUCHE: GAZPACHO AND CRACKERS WITH ‘QUESO FRESCO’ & EGGPLANT TAPENADE: C - … Slightly below average

    In cold December in Antigua, gazpacho isn’t the best idea.

    Also, Gautemalan tomatoes are not the country’s strong point. They are mainly flavorless plum tomatoes. So a gazpacho made with these lacked any taste. It almost reminded me of chirmol, a little thicker, with distinct notes of bell pepper and a tiny touch of spicy heat.

    The ‘queso fresco’ was topped with a thin radish slice. I took a bite and all I could think was “whipped Philly” I would doubt if that was anything but cream cheese.

    The warm eggplant tapenade was the best taste in the dish. It was on top of squares of cocktail crackers like I’d buy in a supermarket.

    COMPLIMENTARY DINNER ROLLS AND BUTTER: D - … Bordering on inedible

    These were reheated and turned hard. They didn’t rise above the quality of supermarket dinner rolls, in fact were a little less tasty. In a country with great pan Frances, or yeasty dinner rolls, all I could think is they would have done better just buying some rolls from a local panaderia.

    The butter was off- tasting and had picked up the flavor of the refrigerator.

    WATERCRESS SOUP WITH CROUTONS: C … Average

    The water part was correct for this thin, flavorless, soup. The croutons were nothing special but added a bit of interest.

    FILET PUR – LOMITO DE MAITRE D’HOTEL WITH COMO COMO SAUCE: D - … Bordering on inedible

    This is supposedly a specialty of the house. I think this is filet mignon or some similar cut.

    It had the dry watery taste of a thawed piece of meat with freezer burn. The mushroom sauce with cream and cognac, which has since been renamed to “Archiduc”, was fine, but it couldn’t save the beef. That stale taste took over.

    This came with three scoops of mashed potatoes, plain, mixed with broccoli and mixed with carrot. They were ok. They all tasted pretty much the same. Only the colors were different.

    A broiled tomato slice, topped with a grilled green onion and sprinkled with dried oregano completed the plate. Again, tomatoes are not the strength of Guatemala and broiling didn’t do much for it.

    The plate was garnished with chopped herbs and a sprig of parsley. The parsley reinforced my image of an old-style 1950’s Continental restaurant.

    COMPLIMENTARY SALAD: C + … Slightly above average

    Nothing to complain about here and it was free. The portion was generous and there were nice mixed greens instead of the usual iceberg lettuce served in much of Guatemala. The dressing was fine also.

    CHOCOLATE MOUSSE: D … Way below average

    There were two desserts marked as “Belgium” on the menu. One was café leigeois, which was ice cream, coffee and coffee liquor. Since the ice cream wasn’t house-made, I skipped that.

    I couldn't figure out what would be Belgium about chocolate mousse ... lack of flavor? It was three scoops of some sort of brown-colored fat on a plate.

    The Chantilly cream had the texture and taste of aerosol whipped cream.

    The plate was dusted with powdered sugar and cocoa. A tasty, sliced, fanned strawberry garnished the dish.

    GLOG: D + … Below average

    The problem was I couldn’t find anything interesting to drink on the menu. It was too cold for lemonade, limeade or beer and nothing on the wine list appealed to me.

    This is the first time I had glog that I remember, so it gets a slightly higher rating because I have no comparison. However, the recipes I’ve read on the web indicate it is more than this – basically hot water and booze.

    There was a tea strainer with some sort of mixture. I let this steep and steep … and steep … still the glog only tasted of water and alcohol.

    It came with honey to sweeten it. This was great honey. In fact it is my second favorite honey in Guatemala. I know the source because the flavor was so unique. Adding it to the glog didn’t help the drink and it was a waste of good honey.

    COMPLIMENTARY CHOCOLATE MENDIANTS: B + … Very, very good

    If only the rest of the meal was on the same level as these thin, melt-in-your mouth, chocolate-y, flavorful disks studded with nuts and dried fruit.

    Here’s an interesting article about mendiants in general which are one of my favorite sweets
    http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2003/12/mendiants.php

    SERVICE: B + … Very, very good

    These people were so pleasant and welcoming. They went out of their way to get me a cab when my usual driver was AWOL. They made sure to explain where I was staying to the driver and kept me updated about when he would arrive (it was only a 10 minute wait). They invited me back into the warm restaurant to wait instead of standing outside in the cold. They said they would let me know when the cab arrived.

    There were a lot of nice touches like that. I’ll bet sitting at their “table d'hôtes” was a wonderful experience.

    AMBIANCE: C + … Slightly above average

    In a city of breathtakingly beautiful and colorful restaurants with gorgeous patios, Como Como chose a stark look, with hard edges and neutral browns and beiges. The table tops are marble or some similar stone. The chairs are wood. Even the Christmas decorations were only brown pinecones on strings.

    The patio at the front was nice enough. It was freezing in Antigua and a plus for this restaurant was it had some rooms that were walled in from the patio. The charm of all those open restaurants is lost when you are shivering. The romance of a Dickensonian Christmas lost its allure after living in the ice box that was Antigua in December. So, I recommend Como Como if the weather is cold. Both the temperature and service are warm.

    It was a dimly lit restaurant and my photos of the patio complete with crystal chandelier didn't come out Here's the photos of the restaurant from their facebook page. There is the front patio area, two dining rooms and a small lounge with a fireplace next to the kitchen.
    http://www.facebook.com/photos.php?id...

    OVERALL

    I could chalk it up to a bad night, but I don’t think so. Almost every dish was consistently off. If this was 1950 I might be a lot more impressed by what was coming out of the kitchen. However, it was dated rather than classic. Think of old-style Continental restaurant and all of their flaws. That is what this strongly reminded me of.

    This wasn’t a pleasant report for me to write. I considered skipping it. I’m more likely to trash the slick, mediocre upscale restaurant with tons of money to throw at advertising. This was not that. This is a small personally-run business.

    However, with not one negative comment on the web about the restaurant, I thought an opposing view might level expectations.

    As I said, the staff and owners were super pleasant and helpful and speak mid-level English. They were NOT trying to dish out indifferent tourist schlock. Other people on the web seem to like the food. The style of the food just may not be to my taste.

    I wish I loved it. I did not. You might.

    If so, I hope you will post a more positive experience than mine. Maybe I missed something.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    5 Replies
    1. re: rworange
      j
      JazzyK Jan 25, 2011 07:52 PM

      It's just so crazy that this place is rated #1 on TripAdvisor. I am tempted to try it just to see what is really up (my husband and I have been in the upscale restaurant business for 12 years) but there are so many places on my list that I am excited to try (Hector's, Bistrot Cinq, Sabe Rico...and more) that I doubt that we will get to it.

      1. re: JazzyK
        rworange Jan 25, 2011 09:31 PM

        I'm wondering if the good reviews are from start up when the had a differnt concentp. If you walk by, you might ask if they do the “table d'hôtes” anymore.

        I haven't been, but are you considering Panza Verde? I hear nothing but great things about them and it is a lovely restaurant. They also have Sunday brunch .... though, personally I'd invest my brunch money at Las Velas. If you go to PV, about a half a block up is a cafe and n
        ursery that is worth a peek. They have the lovliest patio area and hangling bright blue orchigs ... worth a stop just to see those. Think of a wisteria type plant, only bright blue.

        What day do you leave? I'm plugging away at my reports slower than I expected and just posted some of the disappointing restaurants in the past few days to get them out of the way. I have a few good ones coming up.

        1. re: rworange
          j
          JazzyK Jan 26, 2011 05:35 AM

          I have been to Panza Verde multiple times but only once for dinner. I just love the hotel b/c it's so beautiful. A friend had an art show there a few years back and we have also stopped in to see music. I was not impressed with the restaurant. The reason we went was b/c it was highly recommended and so we decided it would be our one splurge meal. It was far from horrible....I just remember not being blown away by any means. But it was a long,long time ago. We do have plans to check the music out at PV this time around though. We have to walk by it to get to the house we are renting. I will check out the cafe. Do you remember the name?

          We arrive in 5 days! Monday, Jan 31st. Then head up to Jaibalito on Lake Atitlan on the 7th or 8th.

          1. re: JazzyK
            rworange Jan 26, 2011 07:45 PM

            Thanks for the feedback on Panza Verde. I can't think it has changed much. I wanted to go for the Cuban jazz on Thrusday night, but just didn't get there. There's a few more restaurants of that caliber I'll move ahead of PV.

            The name of the cafe is Vivero y Cafe de La Escalonia. Here's the report
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/762184

            Can't say really how the food is, since we just had hot chocolate and ponche It does have a nice little market with a lot of local artisan products. Worth a stop just to have a coffee or something and check out the flowers, especially if you are in that nabe. It is near PV, but heading away from town.

            Also near PV is La Antigua Vineria. I haven't been, but it is high on my list. Supposedly they have a good wine list. Mainly Italian, but the menu also has goulash and geschnetzeltes

            God-awful cheesy website. The restaurant actually looks nice ... driving by.
            http://www.laantiguavineria.com/English/Menu_Eng.htm

            I see they have fondue on the menu and you can get a half portion for 30 quetzales ... music on the weekend

            They also have cassata for dessert
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassata

            1. re: JazzyK
              JoanN Jan 29, 2011 09:39 AM

              Kind of surprised to read your so-so review of Panza Verde. I've been there twice, once in summer of '08 and again last fall, and had very good to excellent meals there both times. I reported on the first one here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4829...

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