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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pasta's revisited: New menu and prices to match

Lunch date #60 July 25, 2014

I wanted to take Mom to a "nice" lunch to thank her for all of the house sitting she had been doing for us this summer while we were traipsing around England and then South Carolina…so where to go? I remembered she loved the burger at Pasta's, and we hadn't been there in quite a while. After two years, we figured it was worth a revisit to Pasta's Trattoria: 540 Main St., P-town.

Updated review:

No change in location (5 points) and last time we rated ambiance as 5 points (really?) so this time we give it a 4 (no reason, just more savvy now).  We were rather late for lunch and they were willing to stay open for us, which was nice (service would have been 4-5, but see below... making it a 3 which is the same as 2012).  It was a hot summer afternoon, and though it was my choice to sit outside-it was a bit toasty, even in the shade. We were quickly served iced-tea and bread with dipping oil, making us pretty happy at the start. Then…we looked at the menu. I was surprised to see that the $10 burger we raved about in 2012 was now $14, quite an increase!!! Actually, everything was much higher than our previous review, even the turkey sandwich that Emily, our guest diner for the day, ordered was $13. I went with the $10 arugula and peach salad---no, not because I'm cheap, but because I was hot and it was refreshing. The entire menu was quite different form our 2012 experience, but had several choices keeping with the unchanged score of 4. So how was the $14 burger you ask? Well, it was pretty good, quite large, and packed with meat, such that Mom had not one, but several meals to look forward to from her take-home left- overs this time—which made her pretty happy! My salad was fair and Em's turkey also OK, but 
Mom with her giant "left-over" bag
 really not any better than the $9 roasted turkey-cranberry at Café Main next door. (Food score 4 points, last time 5 points). Our only criticism: Mom did order fries, but was served the pasta salad. I'm sure the cooks were quite done with the deep fryer for the afternoon, and the pasta salad was probably a healthier choice anyway. Value for the meal: 4 points. Our final review of Pasta's revisited: 4 points (last time 4.5 points): : clearly higher-end dining for downtown P-town, even at lunch. All in all, still a great place, but no longer such a great deal. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fernando's: Yes for Mom, but for Jan a NO!

Lunch date #59; June 20, 2014

We had our thinking-caps on; trying to figure out where to go next. I knew Mom always likes Mexican food, and I knew she liked Fernando's. Has something to do with a sister-restaurant Celia's that she used to like, or at least, it reminds her of Celia's. We had been to Fernando's (348 St. Mary's) for dinner several years ago, but couldn't remember trying it for lunch. My previous memory was not too fond, but thought it was worth a try in the spirit of the project.

Location 4 points: A bit more off Main Street than the others, but still officially downtown.

Ambiance 1 point: Really dingy and dark inside. The carpets have worn/dirty paths and the booths are the old-Formica style (one table occupied). We chose to sit outside, and found we were alone. The seating consists of haphazardly arranged basic metal patio tables but at least there were World Cup banners hanging about to give some feel of decor to the place (or I would have wanted to give it 0 points).  To get to the patio, we had to pass through the sketchy/smelly bar, where a few guys were having their lunch with a beer. The bar area definitely has that stale-old-beer on the carpets smell—quite unappealing.  

Menu selection 3 points: The usual Mexican style choices, but nothing very creative. I was trying to figure out the difference between the Tostada and the Tostada salad. Our server didn't really help with the description-other than that the tostada was served with rice and beans, so I went with the salad. Mom ordered the chili relleno—maybe she thinks the project goal is to compare all of the chili rellenos in Pleasanton!

Service 1 point: The server doubled as the bar tender. Her took our order, someone else brought out the food and then we never saw him again. I had to take my glass into the bar to get a water refill. I had asked for more water from the guy that brought out the plates, but he must have forgot. Again: there were about 4 total people in the whole place.

Food 3 points: Mom likes the food-she would want a 4. I thought it was rather poor, and would give it a 2 at most—so we're compromising. Mom did mention some concern that with the scarcity of customers, she was worried the food wasn't turned over and was probably not too fresh. Then some of the employees came out to the other end of the patio and started smoking-there was our server/bartender too! Fortunately I had stopped eating, and although not finished I had already lost my appetite!

Value 2 points: Just too dingy and dirty to give it a higher score. The price is cheap: I believe the lunch specials were $5 each, but I'd rather pay more and be able to enjoy the dining experience. As for the smoking-just couldn't believe it. 

Overall score for Fernando's 2.3 points: The lowest of any place we've tried so far! Since I'm the one writing the review, I'm exerting my bias; I never have liked that place. But I was willing to give it another try-which was most definitely my last. We wonder how the place stays in business. I suppose Mom could get take-out chili rellenos from there, and help contribute to their survival?