Friday, April 20, 2007

You Have Learned Well Young Grasshopper Taco

Bobby: On a recent evening we sauntered down to the latest outpost in Jose Andres' Gallery Place empire, Oyamel.

Giada: We'd heard a good deal about the much anticipated Oyamel, particularly the grasshopper tacos, and were eager to check it out.

Bobby: Oyamel is tapas style, the defining food trend of this decade. Tapas have three virtues: They are cheap, sociable, and allow one to sample a lot of different tastes. Overall, while Oyamel serves up some decent dishes, it is not an especially memorable dining experience.


Bobby: The decor of Oyamel is an example of the Caboization of things that are supposed to be Mexican style. It consists of a bright decor that is a little shabby in a fake kind of way. That being said, the restaurant is open, the tables have a reasonable amount of room, and the overall effect is fairly inviting. Oyamel doesn't break any design barriers (it's no Jonathan Adler), but it is pleasant.

Giada: Agreed, although I did notice a pretty ample amount of space around the bar, which seems like a good idea given Oyamel's downtown location.

Bobby's Decor Rating: 6.8 out of 10.
Giada's Decor Rating: 7 out of 10.


Bobby: One cannot help but compare Oyamel to other Latin places in the area: Rosa Mexicano, Jaleo, and Cafe Altantico. This is perhaps unfair as Oyamel is the most downscale of the quartet. But the food isn't as good as Rosa, as inventive as Atlantico, or as fun as Jaleo.

Giada: Bobby's dead-on here. For different reasons, I've had memorable experiences at all of the above and look forward to returning. While Oyamel was fine, it was just that and nothing more.

Bobby: We had five dishes: gaucamole, grasshopper tacos, queso fundido, tamales verdes, and a sausagy dish.

Giada: "Sausagy dish"?

Bobby: Whatever. You don't remember the name, either.

Giada: Touche.

Bobby: The tamales were very good and the sausagy dish hit the spot. But the guac was a little limey, and the queso needed to be melted more.

Giada: I was the only brave soul who dared try the grasshopper taco. Which is sorta understanding because people? This looks like a grasshopper taco. That is, it's a tortilla filled with fried little bugs. Bobby looked at it, turned a little green, and declined a sample. Also, it basically tastes like a bug-filled tortilla. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with just enough of a meaty taste to remind you that you're eating something from the Animal Kingdom.

Bobby: Overall, though, it was a pleasant meal--and while not among the best places in town, Oyamel isn't bad for a Tuesday night.

Bobby's Food Rating: 6.9 out of 10.
Giada's Food Rating: 6 out of 10.


Bobby: The service at Oyamel was non-descript. The waiter was reasonably competent, if a little slow. But for the price you are paying, you can't really expect brillant service.

Giada: Yeah, definitely a little slow. It also bugged me that he seemed incapable of filling the somewhat small water glasses beyond 2/3 full.

Bobby's Service Rating: 6.8 out of 10.
Giada's Service Rating: 5 out of 10.

Overall: Oyamel is an good value and the type of place that would be good for a group of friends. Guys, probably not the place to book for your girlfriend's birthday or Valentine's Day, but overall Oyamel is a nice addition to Gallery Place's many fine dining choices.

401 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC

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