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Autentica


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#1 NinaNina

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 10:43 PM

I've been lurking here for months, but I had to create an account to talk about this place that opened today, at NE 30th and Killingsworth (across Killingsworth from Cup & Saucer).

This spot may be a weekly event for me. There's chilaquiles, sopa azteca, mariscos, and weekend brunch. I ordered a simple quesadilla today and it came with Oaxacan cheese and epazote in a empanada-like wrapping. On the side was cabbage, salsa de tomatillo, and cilantro. They set me up with a small salad of pickled carrots, potato, and cauliflower. Bien rico!

I'd love to hear anyone else's opinions on the place.

Buen provecho,
Serena

#2 Luca

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 01:49 AM

I'll go there soon, the owner, Oswaldo, was my Sous Chef and he left to open his own place last year. It's a completely family-run operation and if it's anything close to the crew chow he used to make for us at Basilico... I say it's going to be as authentic Pacific Mexican as can be.

#3 ExtraMSG

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 02:53 AM

Welcome to the site.

Sounds good. I'll try to hit it when I get back to town next week. I've already got the beginnings of a Mexican report that includes some other Killingsworth spots.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#4 foodjunkie

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 06:50 AM

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for the tip.
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#5 chefken

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 07:52 AM

Are they open for breakfast on weekdays? And if so, how early? Sound yummy!

#6 ducky

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 10:37 AM

Warn me ahead and I'll do lunch woth you or dinner after work Nick. I just might check out this one on my own early in the week. I've been anxious to find something new in that area for lunch.
Pamela

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It is of great importance to the morale.

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#7 NinaNina

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 02:43 PM

I returned today to Autentica--shrimp in red broth, with homemade tortillas. They said no brunch this weekend, but next weekend they plan a full mariscos brunch--mojo de ajo, ceviche, caldo. During the week it's lunch and dinner only.

#8 thakrza

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 04:37 PM

Thanks! I will check this out tomorrow!

#9 vj

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Posted 15 January 2006 - 04:50 PM

We went on Friday night and ran into Ducky there. First we watched her get her food: taquitos, short ribs, and some carmelized pumpkin thingee. It all looked really good. Then, our food started coming. We got the cheese and chorizo antojito with fresh made tortillas - so good! And then Joe got the world's most beautiful roasted fish. He gets mojarra very frequently at mexican joints and I am never jealous, but there's always a first time for everything, isn't there. It was perch! I got the camarones with mojo de ajo which was subtle and garlic and yum. More fresh tortillas. Desserts were the pumpkin, and some ice cream, so we passed.

I can't wait to go back and try other stuff!

#10 ducky

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 07:08 PM

VJ, your fish envy was perfectly understandable. That was a beautiful fish! I was very excited to see taquitos on the menu. I know a lot of people won't understand but they serve taquitos with broth, chick peas, fresh raw shredded cabbage, avocadoes and cheese. I've had this dish so many times made by somebody's mama at work. The only drawback to ordering it here was that it was bland and they served it up with green sauce on the side so you could spice it up to your liking. I put it all in and it still didn't have the depth of simmering the chilies in the broth. Other than that, the dish was dead on target. Did my heart good just to see it on a menu. They do have some kinks to work out as a brand new restaurant to be sure but if this is what opening week is like, I think they have a bright future ahead. The girls serving need to learn to ask if you would like mild or hot sauce before they automatically serve it to you mild. And with the squash dessert, they should explain to you how to eat it since it is something that some of us might not have ever experienced before. But dinner was wonderful. I had the short ribs with potatoes and carrots. Think of a hearty plateful of mom's pot roast only with a flavorful wine sauce underneath. Delish. Appetizer, entree, soda (OLCC license in a month) and dessert ran me $25 before tip. Menu says the special on thursday will be pasole. I'll be back to check that out.
Pamela

Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life
and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship.
It is of great importance to the morale.

-Elsa Schiaparelli

(Avatar is the cover of Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen)

#11 EvaB

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 09:58 PM

Wow! Just had a great meal here. Went early and were pretty much the only people there (someone came in for take-out)--hope this is not typical (for their sake). Thursday night is posole night so two of us orderd that. It was delicious. Flavorful broth w/shredded pork and lots of big fat hominy. The broth was not red, more like a meat stock. A side plate had an array of ingredients to mix into the soup: shredded cabbage, chopped onion, diced radish, sliced serrano pepper, avocado, and queso fresco. Also on that plate, for side noshing: hand made chips, small meat filled flautas, house-made chicharones. All wonderful but the chicharones were stand out--I haven't had them before. Then, also on the side, but on a different plate, were what looked like tiny chiles rellanos made with jalapenos and filled w/not sure which mexican cheese (probably fresco). Additional condiments for adding to the soup: limes, a little dish of dried oregano, and another dish of a special very hot chili sauce. Lots of food--more than either of us could eat!

Also tried an octopus coctail with lime, peppers, avocado which was very good too. Along side they brought a bottle of a kind of salsa I haven't had before called "Buffalo" which was kind of thick and very dark red and yummy. My daughter had a chicken tamale which came with a salsa verde and crema, and a chicken tostada sprinkled liberally with cojito cheese. She chowed them both down and said they were the best she's had. I didn't taste these.

Desserts sounded interesting but we were WAY too full. As I remember they included: Churritos w/hot chocolate, a fried sweet potato something, some kind of baked or carmelized squash with crema, two kinds of ice cream, and I think 1 or 2 other things as well.

Since we were the only ones there we had lots of opportunity to ask questions of the chef/owner. Liquor license coming up in a couple of weeks. Appetizers, salads, small plates in the $3-$10 range (oysters maybe more), dinners $13-$18ish. Open 10-10, lunch/dinner during the week, brunch weekends, didn't check about Sunday night. Great potential! Check it out.

#12 ExtraMSG

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 11:10 PM

Sounds like they're doing things right. There are three classic colors of posole: white, red, and green. Sounds like a "white" version. All the classic accompaniments, including the chicharrones.

Bufalo makes a few different hot sauces. Their chipotle is ALWAYS in my frig. Really tasty and much cheaper than the crappier Tabasco version.

Maybe I can get there tomorrow night on the way home from The Dalles.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#13 Leopoldo

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 09:05 AM

You refrigerate your Buffalo Chipotle Nick? I leave mine on my spice rack and have not yet had a bottle go bad on me. That might be because I use it so frequently (I always have a second bottle ready to go for when the first one gives out). I have had problems with the sauce thickening in the bottle and have learned to give the bottom a few good whacks before pouring to help mix it up. I think I have been afraid that refrigeration would exasperate this.
Incidentally, one of my favorite mixes for home made burritos is Buffalo Chipotle and Sriracha(http://www.answers.c...iracha?method=8). You get a great mix of sweet and sour with a complex after taste.
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#14 ExtraMSG

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 11:41 AM

Yeah, I refrigerate all kinds of things I probably don't need to. At least I don't refrigerate my fish sauce. Learned that lesson. It does make it a bit thick. I usually add just a touch of water to it and it loosens right up, though. You can also toss it in the microwave. With the acid from the adobo it probably doesn't need much refrigeration, but...

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#15 ExtraMSG

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 01:57 AM

Went tonight. Photos here.

It's just north of Killingsworth on NE 30th. Nice large windows offer a warm glow onto the sidewalk. The interior is simple, but pleasant with nice lighting and art. The room is fairly small, but you can also sit at the bar overlooking the open kitchen.

The menu is split into six parts (plus a dessert menu): seafood cocktails, small plates, salads, soups, large plates, and sides. Appetizers range from $1.50 to $8, things like a seafood tostada with octopus and shrimp for $7 or tamales with chicken and chiles for $3, a nopales salad for $6, or a chicken and vegetable soup for $5. Prices for entrees range from $11 to $16. These include pork tenderloin in green mole, roasted fish in adobo sauce, and panela cheese grilled in banana leaf served with green chiles. Sides, such as guacamole or chorizo, are $3 each.

They brought us a pitcher of water, a basket of bread, and a bowl of what appeared to be vegetables in escabeche, essentially pickled vegetables. The bread was exactly like what you get in Mexico. Personally, I don't think that's necessarily a good thing. Mexican versions of baguette are very soft and insubstantial without a lot of flavor, nothing like the artisan breads Portlanders have become accustomed to. The escabeche was fine, consisting of carrot slices, cauliflower, garlic, chiles, etc. They weren't very tangy, though, or very spicy. Mostly they tasted of oil, though each had a really nice flavor and texture. But I missed the zestier pickled veggies I'm familiar with.

We ordered four appetizers, one side, and an entree: ceviche acapulqueno con pescado fresco camarones y aguacate ($8); tamales de pollo chiles poblanos y crema agria ($3); tosta con tinga de pollo ($3); sopa de tortilla ala autentica con aguacate y queso fresco ($6); guacamole ($3); pollo en mole teloapan ($13).

Ceviche: This was more like a cocktail, like a gazpacho with nice chunks of salmon and whole prawns topped with slices of avocado. It was relatively sweet. I don't think it was made with ketchup like cocktails in Mexico often are, but it had that sweetness, but with a much more straightforward tomato flavor. It was served in a glass with saltines on the side. It was rather addictive with a very fresh flavor.

Tamal: Nice texture to the masa, not overly dense. High ratio of filling to masa. The chicken was lightly coated in a red sauce, but the flavor of the chiles dominated. They were quite mild, but had a lot of flavor. Sour cream and a tomatillo-avocado salsa (I think) were served over the tamal. Very tasty.

Tinga: Perfect balance of cabbage, chicken tinga, cheese, and tostada. The cabbage had a slightly bitter flavor and nice fresh crunch, while the tostada had the earthier fried corn flavor and a crispier texture. It was a very good tostada. The cheese added a little creaminess and tanginess. The tinga was light on chipotle but still tasted good having more sweet dried chile flavor.

Sopa: The only truly disappointing dish of the night. A thick tomatoey broth held soggy tortilla strips. The soup was topped with cheese, sour cream, radish slices, and avocado. I would guess this is a vegetarian dish because the broth has no meatiness and the dish comes with no chicken. The broth is tangy, but without much complexity or interest. Not very similar to other tortillas soups or sopa aztecas I've had. I'd suggest that if they're going to do it this way that they make a tomato consomme, though that would raise the cost of the dish, so that the broth is lighter. They should also serve it with the tortilla strips on the side so that at least some of them can remain crispy. Or they could pour it at the table. The cheese and crema worked very nicely, though, and they're using a good queso fresco.

Guacamole: Creamy and fresh tasting, but overly salty.

Mole: A huge dish, especially for only $13. A half chicken -- tender, juicy, but a little undercooked in spots -- covered with mole and sesame seeds. It's a well balanced mole, dark and complex. Very smooth. I think it could be more intensely flavored, but I don't feel strongly about this. It was very good. Served with white rice nicely presented in a corn husk rolled at each end.

The meal was also served with handmade corn tortillas. They had a good thickness, charred spots, and were cooked through while still being soft and tender.

The dessert menu had six items, including two ice creams. The churritos and chocolate wasn't available because the chef wasn't pleased with the quality. We ordered the calabaza con piloncillo y atole de maiz ($5). The atole was served in a cup on the side. The atole (essentially a drink thickened with masa) was served warm in a cup. It wasn't thin, but it's flavor was. It tasted too watery. Atoles usually have a stonger corn flavor and often have some seasoning. The squash was roasted with Mexican brown sugar and served cold. It looked wonderful. We were a bit surprised that it was served cold, but I'm not sure I would prefer it warm. It may have too mushy a texture. Either way, though, it tasted great. Very simple, but very good.

Overall an enjoyable meal and a very good value. I think this place is comparable in quality to the other good midscale Mexican restaurants in town. Given the menu items, I suspect the chef is from Guerrero, probably near Acapulco. I hope to see even more regional specialties. The menu notes that they have pozole on Thursdays. Since that's a specialty of Guerrero, I hope to give it a try. Maybe he'll do all three colors eventually.

One last note: everything was quite mild. Quite. Even given the standard for these types of dishes to be relatively mild in Mexico, much milder than what we're used to at taquerias, this stuff was mild. Fieriness was almost not existent. And I didn't get any salsa on the table. There wasn't one dish my wife even suspected as being too hot for her. Jill would have no problem with all of these dishes. They were that mild. I think it hurts a few of the dishes, such as the ceviche and the tinga. But at minimum I think they should make a trio of salsas to be delivered to the table as you would expect in Mexico.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#16 thakrza

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 09:01 AM

We stayed for a week in a teeny fishing village in Guerrero last summer and from your descriptions, I would imagine your assumption to be correct that the chef may be from that state.

One thing though, we ate out everyday and the caretaker cooked for his family and us together and (1) the food was pretty mild in general and the best dishes were the seafood (2) the ceviches were like cocktails and vice versa and (3) we never at any time got a trio of salsas offered to us at any authentic restaurant. At any restaurant, actually. Maybe that happens at the restaurants in the more tourist-y areas in Guerrero, but the only salsa we ever received with meals was a nice ajo one or basic Mexican hot sauce. The marinades seemed to be the focus, not drenching food in salsas.

#17 Luca

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 10:44 AM

Nick, you are indeed right, Oswaldo and his family are from Acapulco.

Luca

#18 ExtraMSG

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 01:24 PM

I don't really hang in touristy areas and I definitely don't eat in them. I've never visited Acapulco or Guerrero, so I'm not all that familiar with the finer points of the region's cuisine. Just the broad strokes from reading and studying Mexican food and its history, which is probably my strongest cuisine.

The ceviche is called an Acapulco style ceviche, so if that's how they do it, then that's how they do it. I know farther up the Pacific coast, ceviches are usually sin tomate, while cocktails have them. Strictly speaking, I don't know if it was a ceviche either. It's normal to have the shrimp at least par-cooked before being marinated in citrus, but I don't know that this was marinated much at all. I question whether the salmon, which had a pretty firm texture suggesting actual cooking, was "cooked" in lime juice either. But then, in Acapulco they may just use the term differently. A town like Acapulco, too, which has been built up around the tourist trade for so many years now, may have very different traditions from either a) places on the coast but not as guided by tourism, or b) places more inland, even in the same state.

I'm very surprised you were never offered salsas. I can't think of a place in all my travels that didn't have them. They're often the first thing brought out along with tortillas, whether it's a nice restaurant or just a comida corrida place. And any puesto will have salsas sitting on their counter. Like Thai and Vietnamese, usually the food itself has varying degrees of spiciness, usually not overwhelming, and it's the condiments that are used to make it fit the fire desires of each individual.

As for Autentica, the food wasn't just mild, as in the salsa at your typical Mexican-American place. It was mild as in Taco Bell mild, as in Italian mild. ie, he is going out of his way either to cut back on the amount of chiles used or is going out of his way to use chiles without any Scovilles.

Seriously, when I say Jill could eat there, that means something. There wasn't a single item my wife wouldn't eat because of spiciness. That's NEVER happened at any Mexican food place....EVER!

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#19 thakrza

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 03:05 PM

Yeah, we weren't offered them, up front. Of course, there were fresh tortillas offered up immediately, but at every place we ate at, the only salsa would be whatever the salsa was that was made with the dish (lots of ajo fish and shrimp and you could get extra "ajo salsa" if you asked for it) or the favorite: Las Salsa Mas Salsa hot sauce that they'd give you in the AM. The tortelleria in town was seriously a shack that you had to sniff out and walk through a "day care" to get to.

I found (surprisingly) that I didn't need or miss the salsas. Everything was very flavorful; you could just throw whatever was in front of you in a torilla and toss a little table hot sauce on it and it was terrific.

The town was teeny and way north of Acapulco, closer to Zihuatenejo but still isolated. Strangely, there was even a pretty good Italian restaurant run by two young Italian surfers who had given up their life to surf there! And I had the best ahi poke there in my life. Made by a Mexican woman. Great little weird town, Troncones.

#20 EvaB

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 03:34 PM

The "special" chili sauce, I got w/my posole, which was unlike any salsa I have known, was very hot (and I do like HOT food).