Ortega: New Mex in Clinton
While driving by today, my DW noticed that the ex-Asian restaurant at the corner of Rt. 1 and Beach Park Rd. has undergone a makeover (for about the third time in the last few years) and now sports the name Ortega, presumably with Mexican/Spanish cuisine. Has anyone visited there yet? There is a Mex restaurant in Groton called Ortega's, but I don't know if this one is related.
When we first walked in, we were told immediately that the first dining room was closed and to find somewhere in the next. We picked out a booth and the waitress? slammed two menus down in front of us and then threw 3 sets of silverware down. (Literally threw) (At this point if I had been by myself, I would have walked out). Drinks were served promptly by yet another server. The order was taken by yes, yet another server. Chips and salsa were provided, but the salsa was so very watery, it wouldn't stay on the chip. Not much flavor there either. Upon receiving our order, which consisted of nachos, an enchilada platter and a quesadilla, the quesadilla was cold and hard, and the nachos (with ground beef) were watered down, which gave very little flavor and soggy chips. Yes, even the cheese sauce was extremely watered down! I love my Mexican food, but this place was the worst.
DW was so enthused that she spotted a new restaurant before I did that she insisted we try it out today for lunch. There was only one other party in their two rooms so we could snag a booth by a window, but five or six groups came in while we were there so the word must be getting out. The host confirmed that they had just opened the previous day, and that they were indeed affiliated with the Groton Ortega's (so you might want to check out the Yelp reviews for that place--their menu is at http://www.ortegasmexrest.com/menu.nxg -- similar to but not identical to this establishment). The decoration consisted mostly of colorful serapes and mariachi sombreros hung on the walls, but they were not playing canned music. The waiter was friendly and eager to help, but was obviously new on the job.
The complimentary tortilla chips were good--crisp and fresh--but the accompanying salsa was rather thin and not very piquante. Marguerita and Dos Equis lovers might take note that they do not have their liquor license yet, although they said they expected it soon. DW went for her usual Chile Relleno (her usual judge of new Mex restaurants) and said she would have pronounced it excellent except that they had not removed the seeds (which she told the host about). I had the enchiladas verde, which were quite satisfactory (yes, Mom, I cleaned my plate) but again fairly mild. The refried beans and rice which accompanied both plates were ok but not exceptional.
I will try this place again to make sure, but first impressions are that it is a typical TexMex outlet, fine for family fare, and fairly authentic, but a little disappointing for a dedicated seeker of spicy cuisine. At any rate, it is nice to have an alternative to what I call "Casa Loco" down the road in Old Saybrook.
108 N St Groton City, Groton, CT 06320