A (Overdue) Date at The Tortilla Press

In my ongoing tradition of posting events way too late (but better than never), today I give you: The Tortilla Press! Yes, on Saturday John and I had a few hours of sweet, sweet freedom (the grandparents were ready to dote and spoil for a short evening). And speaking of “late”, we were also there to celebrate John’s birthday, which was on the 15th. We had also been there for the first time back in early September, after which I promptly forgot to write anything about it, despite our raves to friends (ahhh, pregnancy hormones…).

The service was, as it was the first time, attentive and friendly; in fact, that night our server kept referring to us as “my friends”… the first thing she did was place the obligatory Mexican restaurant chips-and-salsa on our table- but instead of plain old salsa, the dip was a cross between a thick black bean dip and a pico de gallo (very tasty).

Being that it was colder than a polar bear’s behind outside, we were both inclined to start with soup that night. The Tomato Tortilla Soup was delicious, with tomatoes, herbs and tortillas pureed into the broth, but something struck me as oddly home-y and familiar. Then it hit me: it tasted exactly like Italian bread dipped into my grandma’s simmering pot of gravy. Go figure. (???)

Since we were really hungry, we decided to get a few appetizers, too. I enjoyed the Ceviche; the shrimp and fillet were fresh, tender, and more than adequately flavored and “cooked” by the citrus juice, and the vegetables (tomatoes, onion, garlic) nicely balanced things out. What I thought was out of balance was the ratio of fish to vegetables: everything was chopped, including the chunks of fish. I really was expecting large pieces of fish marinated in a small amount of vegetables, and felt a bit gypped. Times are tough, I guess, so corners still get cut, even here. The Sweet Fried Plantains didn’t disappoint us, though, and neither did the seasoned creme fresche that came with it for dipping. They were almost as good as Azucar‘s plantains (see the website for my favorite place in North Jersey).

For our entrees, we seemed to be in an enchilada mood that day. John had Pork Enchiladas Enmoladas; for those not familiar with mole, it is a traditional “all-day-cooking” sauce, frequently laced with chocolate (think savory, complex, and spicy- NOT sweet). I thought the pork filling was tasty and tender, but the mole sauce was a bit flat in comparison to others I’ve had. My Seafood Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce and Chipotle-Laced Creme were rich and delicious. Both were served with the obligatory Spanish rice and black beans, which were fresh , of course, but a little bland. From our first trip there, however, we can highly recommend the Pulled Pork with Chipotle Peanut BBQ Sauce; it’s hard to describe, but oh, so good….

Feeling full from all that food but kind of piggy, we decided to split dessert. Crispy, straight-from-the fryer churros (fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar) served with cinnamon ice cream made us very happy. We even forgot how sleep-deprived we were for a moment!

Oh, yeah- did I mention that even though they are BYO, they have amazing virgin margaritas? I was more than pleased about that on our first trip there: it was hot out, I was pregnant, and somehow a Coke wouldn’t have gone with everything as well. Keep in mind you can do as some locals do: bring a small bottle of tequila with you to mix into the shaker it comes in.

Being that these times are tough and a lot of us are scaling back on dining out, I will mention that The Tortilla Press works hard at putting together great deals that are worth coming in for: “Home Style Classics”wraps up this week (4 courses of Mexican interpretations of popular comfort food for $30.00 per person); “Salute to Semolina” (“unique ways to use pasta”) 3 courses for $25.00; and “Date Night” every Tuesday. Check out their website for details!

The Tortilla Press 103 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood. 856.869.3345.



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