Saturday, October 19, 2013

Verde - Huntersville

Since the beginning of September, my mom and dad have been telling BFTB and me that we needed to check out Huntersville's new urban Mexican restaurant, Verde. Armed with a Groupon and a hankering for fajitas, we headed over to Verde this past Sunday to grab lunch before doing some football-watching with my family. 

Upon our arrival, we discovered that the restaurant offers a limited brunch menu on Sundays that unfortunately didn't include fajitas. Bummed, I asked our waiter if they could make fajitas anyway... they couldn't. The prices were also so low that using our Groupon didn't make much sense. While this wasn't exactly going according to plan, we were excited to try the brunch and decided to come back later in the week for dinner in order to use our Groupon. 


The brunch menu isn't online, so I don't know the exact names and descriptions of the items we ordered (I'm such a helpful blogger...) but I went with the huevos rancheros and a side of maduros (fried plantains) while BFTB ordered a lunch version of the pibil entree, which consists of slow-cooked Yucatan-style pork. Our waiter brought out a basket of chips and salsa for us to snack on while our food was being prepared. Being a chips and salsa fanatic, I enthusiastically dug in. The salsa was served in a tiny square bowl, which was cute to look at, but not that easy to dip a chip into. Sadly, neither the chips nor the salsa were very tasty. The chips were thick and hearty but the salsa was runny and disappointingly bland. 

Huevos rancheros

Maduros - fried, sweet plantains

Verde has an open kitchen, which I normally like. However, it was not that great in this situation because I was able to watch my food sit on the counter under a heat lamp for a solid five minutes before it was delivered. I honestly wanted to run up and grab it myself... Is that socailly acceptable? Unsurprisingly, my meal arrived lukewarm, the chips were soggy from bean juice runoff, and the eggs were dry. Regardless, it was definitely the most interesting looking presentation of huevos rancheros that I've ever seen. Concave, bowl-shaped chips contained the beans, eggs, and pico de gallo, while two varieties of sauce lined the plate. The red sauce was absolutely delicious, but the meal was otherwise kind of lame. Everything was attractive-looking but upon digging in, I just wasn't impressed. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the side of maduros, which tasted fresh, sweet, and savory and amazingly, weren't greasy at all. BFTB's pibil was really good and, unlike my food, was served at an appropriate temperature. The pork was juicy, flavorful, and accompanied by well-seasoned black beans and a spicy version of Mexican rice. All in all, we were impressed-ish, chalked most of the issues up to the slow service, and optimistically looked forward to a return visit.

BFTB's lunch order of the pibil

A few days later, we decided to return for dinner. Unfortunately, this experience was more disappointing than our brunch visit. We ordered the tres quesos appetizer, the grilled mango-citrus shrimp fajitas (for BFTB), and the enchiladas de falda (for me). 


Tres quesos appetizer

Ringing in at $7, I expected the queso to be either delicious, abundant, or ideally, both. Alas, it was none of the above. The menu says that the appetizer consists of a three cheese blend mixed with roasted red peppers and chipotle peppers (by the way, aren't chipotles roasted red peppers?). However, we didn't detect any of those flavors. Served in a tiny square bowl that was only a little bit bigger than the bowl containing the salsa, it tasted like a blend of Velveeta and the red wax that coats Babybel cheese. While we gave it a solid try, it was definitely a waste of both money and calories.

Enchilades de falda


Side of rice and beans

Unlike our first Verde experience, our entrees arrived fairly quickly. The enchiladas de falda consisted of and ancho-barbeque brisket, cilantro-poblano cream sauce, chipotle slaw, rice, and charro beans and were the better of the two meals. The slow-cooked meats seem to be Verde's specialty as, just like the pibil, the brisket was smoky, juicy, and tender. However, the best part of the meal was the insanely delicious cilantro-poblano cream sauce. It tasted fresh and rich without feeling heavy (which is pretty miraculous considering it was a cream sauce). The veggie slaw adorning the enchiladas was also nice as it provided some much needed crunch to an otherwise texturally-monotonous meal. The beans and rice appeared to be the same ones that accompanied the brunch pibil and were, once again, flavorful and well-seasoned. 

Grilled mango-citrus shrimp fajitas

Of all the meals we ordered during our two trips, BFTB's fajitas were the most disappointing. Although their description sounded delicious, they were poorly executed. The shrimp were rubbery, overcooked, and underseasoned while the mango-citrus sauce tasted like a weird, excessively sweet version of children's cough medicine. The accompanying veggies were just as lacking in flavor as their shellfish friends and were sliced so thinly that they reminded me of overcooked spaghetti noodles. Honestly, I can't think of fajitas anywhere that are worse than Verde's fajitas.

I really wanted to like Verde, but it let me down at both brunch and at dinner. The service was slow and the food was beyond lackluster, especially when considering the pricepoint. Our dinner entrees cost $16 each and the I'm-still-convinced-it-was-Velveeta queso was $7. Even though I essentially paid half price by using a Groupon, the quality and quantity of food didn't come anything close to justifying the cost. If the food was executed half as well as it was described, the restaurant would have produced some outstanding meals. Unfortunately, this just wasn't the case. Maybe Verde still has some relatively-new-restaurant kinks to work out, but for now, I can only give them a 5.5/10. 


Verde Urban Mexican Grill and Cantina on Urbanspoon

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