Lunch date #36, March 29, 2013
Wow, behind in our postings once again. It has been a busy couple of months, and while we have been getting out for a few lunches here and there, I think Mom is worried that our project is dwindling. Must put this back on top priority! Remembering back to the end of March when the weather was so unseasonably warm, we wanted a restaurant with outdoor seating. Since Mom loves Mexican food, I thought—where else but Alberto's Cantina (435 Main Street; www.albertoscantinapleasanton.com). I've had many opportunities to try the food there-always seems just so-so to me, but I wanted Mom's expert opinion!
Ambiance 3 points. I definitely prefer the outdoor seating rather than the dining room, but upon closer inspection found that even the outdoor décor was rather "old" looking. It seems time to replace the old woody-spindly plants in cheap plastic hangers. The bar area is pretty, and as Mom pointed out, the two color table linen scheme is festive. They definitely attempt to create a cantina-type of atmosphere.
Menu 3.5 points: All the usual Americanized-Mexican style entrees that you'd expect to see. Mom commented that it "covers everything I'd be interested in ordering." Nothing exceptional that stands out, but definitely can find a good assortment. There are good pairings and plate-size options. Mom ordered the chili relleno. I went with the most "popular" tostada on the menu-to really give the place a chance to "wow" me this time.
Food 3 points: Mom was happy that her food was nice and hot (temperature wise, that is). I tasted her chili relleno and thought it was decidedly lacking in flavor. She was quite happy, though and promptly ate everything-no left overs that day! My "popular" tostada was just fair. The shell was too heavy and the rest of the dish was too soggy. The chicken was not seasoned and for once I only ate half of my meal! Not worth taking the rest home, however.
Service: 3 points. Prompt in the beginning and the food was served very quickly. But then we never saw a waiter again. I would have liked more water, but didn't get a refill until presented with the check.
Value: 2.5 points. Great location and nice outdoor ambiance, however the food is not a great deal. $12-13 for very bland food. Rather on the high end from our experience, without the quality of the food to justify the price.
Overall score for Alberto's Cantina: 3.3 points. The best part of this dining experience is the location. But otherwise, as I said from the start, the place continues to be so-so. Nothing great, but not horrible. Definitely not my favorite.