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Xilantro in Wayne... never again!

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I went out to Xilantro in Wayne for a much needed girls night with my friends. Even though we had a blast with each other, it was one of the worst experences I have had in a restaurant in a long time.

First, the wait. The restaurant was packed. Our party of 3 had an 8:00 reservation and checked in at 7:45 and sat at the bar. The bar was packed and loud, the drinks were way overpriced, and it was nearly impossible to get a seat. We had a very pregnant friend with us who was hungry so we checked in with the hostess to see the status at 8:15, she apologized for the wait, pointed to a table being cleared and said that was our table and we would be seated shortly. Minutes later, another hostess proceeded to sit another party (who arrived at least 20 minutes after us) at that table. So we spoke to the hostess again, and the sale exact thing happened. So we asked to speak to the manager and while we were speaking to him the hostesses sat yet another party. While the manager was friendly and cordial, he tried to blame it on the customers lingering over their meals, when in reality it was a disorganized front of house. He did not offer to buy us drinks or apps while we waited, we did tell him we expected something for the wait and he said he would "take care of us". At 8:55 we finally got seated.

Now the decor. Blinding white shiny pastic furniture, tables cramped on top of each other, loud club music in the background. The noise level even in the restaurant side was deafening. Enough said on that topic.

And the food. It was just okay. The guacamole was fine, kind of bland, the portion was really generous. The queso fundido again was fine, I have had better I have had worse. The shrimp fajitas we okay, the shrimp were skimpy and the peppers were overly covered in black pepper. The beans were just bad, they had an off taste like they went rancid and we really could not eat them. The tres leches cake was tasty but not super moist. The mexican coffee was tasty but very sweet (I personally like sweet). They do not have regular coffee, just mexican coffee, which I find odd.

Our waiter was actually really good, very helpful and friendly. The bartenders were really good too.

But the prices are what got me, the menu prices were ridiculous and even worse we were completely "nickel and dimed". We spent $65 during our eternal wait at the bar. Mojitos were $11. My pregnant friend was charged $8 for club soda with lime. When we ate, we asked for a side of sour cream with our nachos (super small bowl) and were charged $3. The cake was about the size in diameter of an oreo and was $8. We were never comped for any drinks and our comp was just a bowl of guacamole and chips. I never spent so much for getting so little.

I had a blast with my friends but would never never go back.

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  1. Regardless of their front of house problems, $8 for a club soda and lime for your pregnant friend is inexcusable. If they can't sell you alcohol, they'll gouge it out of you anyway? I'd be writing a letter to the owners about this. I surmise their regard for designated drivers is tantamount to their regard for expectant mothers.
    CP

    1. Wow. Just wow. We were excited about another local food oppty, but the interior didn't look promising, and your review pushes me firmly over to the "Why bother" side. Thanks for the candor! I'm sure every customer has their preferences and peeves, but every single thing you said would bother the hell out of me. BTW, Matador across the street is pretty good.

      1. AG - That is disappointing. I was looking forward to trying as I frequent El Sarape often. I would suggest that you jot an email to the restaurant - detailing your experiences. Since it is a new restaurant, I am sure they would appreciate feedback. Luis has always been very hospitable at El Sarape and I am sure he would want to know about the problems.

        1. I would guess, with the restaurant being packed and your having to wait a hour for a table (with a reservation), that little will change regardless of how you communicate your displeasure. It sounds to me as if they're very successful just the way they are and, if the customers are willing to pay, they're going to keep doing what they're doing. It's gonna take a lot more folks who think like you AG, before they even consider messing with their "cash cow". You have persuaded a few of us from putting any money in their pockets, so I guess that's a start!

          1 Reply
          1. re: bucksguy14

            This place has only been open a few weeks, we'll see what they do once the new-restaurant smell wears off.

          2. I went to Xilantro last night, so I'd like to weigh in! They definitely have a few kinks to work out, but they have only been open for one month on the dot, and they seem to be making progress on some of the issues you mentioned in your review.

            I agree, the drinks are pricey, there is no denying that. However, the Xilantro Especial, a mango margarita with fresh pieces of cilantro and jalepeno pepper in it, is delicious! This is not the place to go for a casual beer or glass of wine. Alberto behind the bar is a tequila expert and helped us out with some really good tequilas for sipping during dinner! Their tequila selection seems to be extensive (although I'm not generally a huge tequila drinker!).

            The food, in my opinion, is reasonably priced, however the portions are a bit on the small side, which is why I think the prices seem higher than they should be. We had the filet (done both ways it appears on the menu) and both were excellent. We also had the lamb, which I must say was the best thing we tried all night! It was seasoned perfectly and cooked until it was tender and shredded. They served it with warm, fresh corn tortillas which made it even better. I am definitely getting this next time!

            In terms of the noise issue, they installed noise absorbers (for lack of a better term!) on Wednesday night, which my dad (who has been there both before and after their installation) said make a HUGE difference. It was completely packed in there last night and I had no trouble hearing anyone in my party, or our server.

            The food is very good, but this is not the place to go if you want a big Mexican dinner for a reasonable price. What really set this place apart for me, and has solidified my return in the near future, is the absolutely outstanding service! From Alberto at the bar, to Caesar the manager, to Kelly our server, they were all so wonderful. Service was personable, friendly and attentive, and one of the owner's came over at the end of our meal to see how everything was.

            I had a great experience last night, although I know that this restaurant seems to have turned some people off. I would definitely say to go back again in a few months, once they have worked out some more of the issues, and have a Xilantro Especial! Also, their outdoor seating will be ready to go next Thursday, 7/7, so that might be another draw!

            1. Went there recently on a weeknight and I'm in the camp of No Need to Return. The outdoor seating is lovely...and if you want an expensive drink outside, it would be a great place....they really did a nice job outside. Our party of 8 was seated indoors and for one drink each, 2 guacamole appetizers shared by the table and one entree each...no dessert, no coffee...the bill came to $50pp. The entree portions were a bit skimpy, in my opinion, for the price. The lamb entree I had wasn't hot....maybe barely lukewarm at best. Three others at the table had the lamb and no one else complained so I decided to stay silent and enjoy the company if not the food. The flavors of the lamb were good, but when the food is lukewarm, the food gets ruined. I'm assuming the other dishes were 'just okay' too as no one raved or even commented about the food...and we all know each other from being in a cooking group and some are real foodies. As to there being noise buffers installed, I'm shocked that they are there. In fact a comment was made that they could use some sort of buffers. It was VERY loud and the restaurant was only half to two-thirds full. Even if the food were superb, for a party of 8 I'd definitely go somewhere else to be able to hear. And unlike the poster before me, we never saw any staff except our waitress who was certainly very nice and attentive but I think new as she had to leave the table several times to find out answers to our questions. We never saw a manager.

              And for the person who loves El Sarape, we do too! The food here didn't come close, imho.

              I was excited to try this restaurant, and I did, and no need to bring my SO back with me another time. Too many other lovely restaurants for less money.

              1. Waitress told us that the chef is actually from Mexico. Really, is that supposed to be a rarity now? The best food coming out of kitchens anywhere is usually prepared by hard working & skilled Mexican workers. ;-)

                Too bad this place isn't better. Hoping the iron out the major kinks.

                1. We went a couple of weeks ago, and had a bad experience as well. Way too expensive for barely average food. Missteps with the service - noise level - and seeming chaos at the front desk. I really wanted to like this place, but in the end, it was impossible. We left with a bad case of buyer's remorse.

                  You could tell they put a lot of money and effort into the start-up, so I wanted to give the owner(s) some feedback about our evening without slamming them in a public forum. I've opened a restaurant before, and understand how devastating a bad review can be while you're still working the kinks out.

                  I gave them the courtesy of expressing my disappointment privately, by eMail, outlining our experience with both the food and the service - for their benefit, not mine, as I'll never go back. They didn't even bother with a response.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Whinerdiner

                    For whatever missteps of service, mediocre fare or front-of-house chaos you encountered, there seems to be a patronage oblivious to such. Maybe its the temporary "in" place in Wayne but its days are numbered.
                    When the crowd moves on to new digs and ignoramus owner/manager learns that constructive feedback is essential to survival, we'll see Xilantro and its $8 club soda go the way of a gazillion others.
                    You did the right thing. I tried to share my comments with the owner of the now closed and deserted Collegeville Inn when it had its fling with "La Marche" concept back in 1998. R.I.P.
                    CP

                    1. re: Chefpaulo

                      Maybe I'm oblivious, I might be. I also think I evaluate places differently, based on what I'm looking for. I wouldn't go to Xilantro for dinner, which is clearly a problem for their business, especailly because it appears that I'm the only one on here that would go there AT ALL. I would, however, go there for guacamole and a delicious cucumber martini (only if someone else was paying :)).

                      1. re: ccalabro

                        go to Matador for the guacamole instead. It's just across the street and I liked it so much more...and the chips were yummy! Only had beer so can't compare the drinks...

                      2. re: Chefpaulo

                        Had I known about the $8.00 club soda for a pregnant lady, I wouldn't have been so nice.

                        Since my husband doesn't drink, he had a couple of Jarritos, which I thought were expensive at the time, although I don't remember now how much they were. If we had been charged $8.00 for each soda, though, I would've been pissed!