Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Mary Ann's

116 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

One of the many perks of living in NYC is that more often than not, if you're walking around and try a new restaurant, you will leave with a full belly, a happy palate, and a new place to take friends when they visit. Most of my family and friends come from either California or Mexico, so when I have to think of restaurants to take them, I know that they probably won't want Mexican. This works out well for me because, as I've mentioned before, this city is not the go-to for Mexican, but that doesn't mean I won't stop trying to find the few hidden gems. In my quest to find more good Mexican restaurants, I wandered into a place called Mary Ann's on 8th Ave. (between 15th and 16th street). Unlike a good role playing game, I was not instructed to go there by the recommendations of a friendly quest giver. Instead, my decision was solely based on seeing a floor packed with tables of hungry villagers, which was a big mistake that cost us about sixty dollars.

When seated, guests are served with salsa and tortilla chips. The chips are freshly made and perfectly crispy, but that's not enough to distract you from their flavorless and underwhelming companion, the salsa. Not only was it watery and not spicy, but I'm pretty convinced that there was not even a pinch of salt in there, let alone spices. While putting to use my secondary talent, eavesdropping, I heard from the table next to us, "Wow! They must have changed owners. I've been coming here for years. This salsa has no flavor." That comment confirmed what I also tasted, but it also gave me hope that maybe it was just a bad batch and the main courses would be better.

The gringo boyfriend seems to always be in my party when I go on these quests for delicious Mexcan food. I guess in the world of RPGs (role playing games) I would be the tank and he is my off-tank. I'm the first to taste the food and assess the situation before handing it off to him for support and to analyze our strategy. In the case of the battle at Mary Ann's, we ordered Pork Enchiladas in Red Sauce, with a side of rice and beans. This was not a battle we were unfamiliar with, since this is typically the dish we order. In typical NYC Mexican food style, the rice was dry and bland. It had the tell-tale sign that it came from a box; the rice grains didn't blossom. The beans were not bad; they were seasoned well and creamy. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the dish. When we wielded our knives and forks and took a swing at the enchilada, we were very disappointed. The pork, although very tender, was under-seasoned. The red sauce was almost impossible to taste because it was overwhelmed by the heavy cloak of cheese that was slathered on top.

We are not the kind to step away from a challenge, so I do have to admit that we ate all of the food and left our plates clean. That's not because we enjoyed it, but because we are both gluttons that have no self-control when it comes to food. We might as well yell out "Leeeeeroy Jenkins!" before we begin any meal. Although we left Mary Ann's with a full belly, over all it was a disappointing meal that left us with no desire to go in for more attempts.


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