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TABARKA Restaurant Review

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Post by johninajijic Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:29 am

Seven of us from our Bi Monthly Dinner group dined at TABARKA restaurant last night. Some of us ordered soft drinks while others ordered wine. One person ordered a bottle of Spanish Crianza and said it was very good. Cost $ 300 pesos. There were 4 or 5 appetizers on the menu.

On the menu was Shrimp in Garlic sauce and Scallops in Cauliflower sauce. I did ask if I could get the Scallops without the Cauliflower sauce and was offered them with garlic sauce or just plain. There was 3 kinds of Paella on the menu, one was Seafood and the other was Lobster. The menu has a choice of fish for two persons for $ 260 pesos, pairing your choice of fish (eg: cod, sea bass, monkfish or whatever was fresh from the Mercado in Guad that day) with one of 4 sauces and then you choose two of 4 items for veggies (eg: potato, grilled, red peppers, asparagus or green salad.) All fish and veggies are grilled.

Very fresh bread was brought first with garlic butter. One person ordered Crimini with garlic sauce. Out came a good sized, tasty plate of crimini mushrooms and another type mushroom sautéed in garlic and oil. We each ordered our meals after asking questions of the menu items. One of us ordered Monkfish garden salad and asparagus, one ordered cod red peppers and green salad, three others ordered Sea Bass. One person ordered the Giant Shrimp in Garlic sauce, shells on, but easily taken off.

We all agreed that the meals were excellent. The fish was moist and properly cooked. The fish is the freshest fish in Ajijic as it is picked out and purchased daily at the Mercado del Mar in Guadalajara by the owner of the restaurant. Our dinner group highly recommends this restaurant.

I am told by one of my neighbors, who organizes the Shriners that a benefit will be held at this restaurant in November.

Tabarka Restaurant
Rancho del Oro Plaza
Closed Tuesday
766 1588

Food - Excellent
Portion size - Good to Large
Service - Excellent
Atmosphere - Average
Prices - $ 100 - $ 140 pesos - Average for Ajijic


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Post by CanuckBob Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:47 am

Welcome aboard John. Your reviews are appreciated.

Cheers,

Bob
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Post by Intercasa Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:43 pm

I went there with a group and we left as there are no dishes without seafood, not even a meat dish so make sure all in the group are happy only eating seafood.

We left as I wasn't in the mood for seafood and they offered nothing else, even the salads had seafood in them.

I'm sure the food is good if that is what you like but if all in the group aren't seafood lovers you'll have a problem.
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Post by johninajijic Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:20 pm

Intercasa wrote:I went there with a group and we left as there are no dishes without seafood, not even a meat dish so make sure all in the group are happy only eating seafood.

We left as I wasn't in the mood for seafood and they offered nothing else, even the salads had seafood in them.

I'm sure the food is good if that is what you like but if all in the group aren't seafood lovers you'll have a problem.

When we go with our Dinner Group, only one person doesn't like seafood, so he stays home while his wife attends the Dinner.
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Post by Peter Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:45 am

A couple months ago we ate at Tabarka as it had been recommended. We ordered the platter of three fish selections which fed the two of us plus one child, and each ordered desserts. We were well satisfied with the meal, the side dishes, and desserts and decided we would return there again. I was hoping to find scallops but there were none that day but we did hear from others dining there the following day that they were available then.

Another month and a half later we once again visited Lakeside and returned to Tabarka. Just as we were seated we saw some friends were arriving so we moved to a larger table to accomodate six of us.

This time we ordered individual items and were given the bread basket, which is always fresh and tasty, but our meals really lacked for side dishes and the fish portions were quite skimpy.

The restaurant wasn't very busy, though there were other patrons also dining while we were there. I know serving six adults can put a strain on the kitchen but it is not such a large number that should be a problem. However, there was no attempt to serve us together and our plates arrived at various times. This prompted all to begin eating at different times, but by then the bread basket had run out so those left waiting had nothing to keep occupied with.

After a time five of us had been served except for Tere and I waited for her meal to arrive before I would begin, except that was not happening any time soon so I shared my plate with her until hers would arrive, quite awhile later.

None of the food was bad, but no one had really good comments to offer either. All agreed it lacked any luster, was skimpy, and if that had been our first visit it would not be sufficient to warrant a return trip.

Did any of you order the paella? I see John mentions the paella but does not comment if anyone tried it. I have been told by a number of people to pass it by or avoid it at all costs. For me it remains untried because of these warnings, but since John's review gives it mention I am wondering if anyone has tried their paella that actually has good comments about it??

For me Tabarka has been one hit and one miss. I cannot say the service was especially good because of the the time lapse in the way we were all served. The staff should know if that is going to be a problem for the kitchen then those who are kept waiting should be provided more bread or some other small appetizer during that wait.

My review of Tabarka: Catch as catch can. Don't go with any high expectations.
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Post by johninajijic Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:02 pm

Peter wrote:A couple months ago we ate at Tabarka as it had been recommended. We ordered the platter of three fish selections which fed the two of us plus one child, and each ordered desserts. We were well satisfied with the meal, the side dishes, and desserts and decided we would return there again. I was hoping to find scallops but there were none that day but we did hear from others dining there the following day that they were available then.

Another month and a half later we once again visited Lakeside and returned to Tabarka. Just as we were seated we saw some friends were arriving so we moved to a larger table to accomodate six of us.

This time we ordered individual items and were given the bread basket, which is always fresh and tasty, but our meals really lacked for side dishes and the fish portions were quite skimpy.

The restaurant wasn't very busy, though there were other patrons also dining while we were there. I know serving six adults can put a strain on the kitchen but it is not such a large number that should be a problem. However, there was no attempt to serve us together and our plates arrived at various times. This prompted all to begin eating at different times, but by then the bread basket had run out so those left waiting had nothing to keep occupied with.

After a time five of us had been served except for Tere and I waited for her meal to arrive before I would begin, except that was not happening any time soon so I shared my plate with her until hers would arrive, quite awhile later.

None of the food was bad, but no one had really good comments to offer either. All agreed it lacked any luster, was skimpy, and if that had been our first visit it would not be sufficient to warrant a return trip.

Did any of you order the paella? I see John mentions the paella but does not comment if anyone tried it. I have been told by a number of people to pass it by or avoid it at all costs. For me it remains untried because of these warnings, but since John's review gives it mention I am wondering if anyone has tried their paella that actually has good comments about it??

For me Tabarka has been one hit and one miss. I cannot say the service was especially good because of the the time lapse in the way we were all served. The staff should know if that is going to be a problem for the kitchen then those who are kept waiting should be provided more bread or some other small appetizer during that wait.

My review of Tabarka: Catch as catch can. Don't go with any high expectations.

Peter - You have been to Tabarka twice and judge a restaurant this way? Hardly fair to the owner and yourself as it can happen at ANY restaurant at Lakeside. I/we, our restaurant group have been going there many, many times and haven't found what you describe. My neighbors go with friends once a week and get treated very well. If you go often enough, he brings out Tapas of fish gratis for the table.

We ordered Paella once and it was OK. I think it varies, but cannot really comment negatively about it.
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Post by Peter Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:53 am

That is the only way I can judge it. I offer the view of a casual visitor to town and not that of a regular customer. Patronizing restaurants is our primary activity at Lakeside and reason for visiting. Your mileage may vary.

Our first visit warranted another visit to the establishment. On our second visit, and with a larger group, I do not believe it entirely unfair to mention there were some irregularities with how the service was coordinated. The food was good during either visit, though more notable the first time. It may well be your best restaurant choice at Lakeside for fresh fish.

My review of Tabarka is rather neutral, my general impression being somewhat the way you describe their paella.
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Post by gringal Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:06 am

John.........Peter's just visiting on occasion and his report actually echoes a few experiences we've had there. Slow. Last time, three of us were finished eating before the fourth was finally served, and we had delayed starting on his account.
They will bring another bread basked and the dipping sauce if you ask for it.

My paella warning came after we tried the fish version and left most on the plate.
Our friend took hers home and the dogs wouldn't eat it, either. Her pets are omnivores, and not picky. I don't understand why a "Spanish" restaurant can't cook up a dynamite Paella. Much better version at Costco.


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Post by Peter Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:07 pm

In all likelihood we will probably be back to Tabarka. It will most likely be just the two of us and there will be a better chance our being served simultaneously will be improved. Also the 3-fish plancha for two seems like the best way to go. However, if they do by chance have scallops available at a future visit sometime then I may deviate from that plan and take the chance our serving times may vary by quite a bit.

Those of you who know the owner may wish to suggest to him that coordination of serving their guests more or less simultaneously is important to many gringo clientele.
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Post by gringal Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:20 pm

About telling the owner: Hound Dog eats there frequently.....so maybe he'll pass it on. His wife is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Just from driving past on various days of the week, it appears that most of his diners come on the weekends from Guad.

I had the scallops there. I told them I didn't want them nearly raw so they cut them in half and they were perfect (for me). Another time, I was served a fish that was still cold in the center although the sauce was tasty. This gringa likes her fish warm to hot. And the hell with sushi anywhere outside of Japan. Just a personal preference. lol. Guess I just won't be cutting it as a real gooooormay any time soon.
cheers

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Post by Carry Bean Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:10 pm

The idea of sushi makes my skin crawl so I'm with you on that.

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Post by Peter Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:59 pm

Agree, I like my fish well-cooked to over-cooked. I post a lot about food topics but am no gourmet, not by pretentious middlebrow terminology, rather, I just enjoy cooking and eating.

I was a taxi driver in Las Vegas in the mid-70's for a couple years. A common complaint by many of the visitors there was about the rare roast beef in the hotels' buffets, dripping red and sliced paper-thin.

As a taxista part of my job was steering the people in the right direction. The Showboat hotel at the head of Boulder Highway was the place for well-done and thick-sliced roast beef, perhaps the only place then. That and with their 104-lane bowling alley, they were catering to a specific clientele. Vegas has changed a bit in 35 years so I really don't know where to recommend today.

With the cross-section of folks I see around Lakeside I would think the restaurants need to be ready to serve either preferrence. There seems to be no shortage of restaurants there either so it would seem a good strategy to go an extra distance without being prompted.
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Post by gringal Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:52 pm

A bit off of Tabarka, but on Mondays, Panino's does a roast beast, and you can choose your level of doneness for either a plate, a beef salad, or a French Dip sandwich, generously filled, on good fresh rolls.
Had the latter today. When you say "medium" it's just what your would hope for. No blood. Shared it and one of their good Italian pesto sandwiches with my husband. Simple Yum.
Most of their food is definitely gringo slanted (plates of meat on white bread with gravy, peas and mashed taters) but they have a couple of dishes I consider right up there with the best in town for the price: the above-mentioned beast, the shrimp Louie and on Thursdays, a spaghetti with shrimp and pine nuts. Big shrimp. Crunchy. Nice marinara sauce.
Pies and cakes? IMO, they look better than they taste......but still.....okay.
A plus: spotlessly clean banos.

Peter: Do you suppose gamblers are more inclined to want blood? razberry

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Post by Carry Bean Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:36 pm

Thanks for the heads up about the French dip. Haven't had one in ages. I had heard about Panino's pie & had the blackberry last week. Oddly, it sort of tasted like Kool-Aid but still OK.

In my search for hashbrowns, I found them with the Migas at Sunrise. cheers

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Post by gringal Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:32 am

Breakfast at Sunrise definitely has good hash browns. I think they also have them at the Early Bird in downtown Ajijic, but the very best hashbrowns are on 16 Septiembre in Ajijic, across from the back gate of LCS at "Chimi's" tiny restaurant.......and also, for sheer sinful breakfast indulgence, there's Chimi's wife's "California omelet", with cream cheese and other good stuff within it!. Daily specials for lunch. Very reasonable prices for breakfast and lunch. Closed Sundays.

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Post by johninajijic Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:29 pm

gringal wrote:Breakfast at Sunrise definitely has good hash browns. I think they also have them at the Early Bird in downtown Ajijic, but the very best hashbrowns are on 16 Septiembre in Ajijic, across from the back gate of LCS at "Chimi's" tiny restaurant.......and also, for sheer sinful breakfast indulgence, there's Chimi's wife's "California omelet", with cream cheese and other good stuff within it!. Daily specials for lunch. Very reasonable prices for breakfast and lunch. Closed Sundays.

Aren't you people getting way off topic? Maybe you should start a new thread?
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Post by Carry Bean Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:38 am

Rolling Eyes

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Post by hound dog Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:39 am

gringal wrote:About telling the owner: Hound Dog eats there frequently.....so maybe he'll pass it on. His wife is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Just from driving past on various days of the week, it appears that most of his diners come on the weekends from Guad.

I had the scallops there. I told them I didn't want them nearly raw so they cut them in half and they were perfect (for me). Another time, I was served a fish that was still cold in the center although the sauce was tasty. This gringa likes her fish warm to hot. And the hell with sushi anywhere outside of Japan. Just a personal preference. lol. Guess I just won't be cutting it as a real gooooormay any time soon.
cheers

You are right, Gringal, that my darlin´ wife and I have eaten at Takarka often as it reminds us very much of the seafood restaurants we are so fond of both on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. We haven´t been there lately but don´t mind complaining to the chef if the service or food is not up to our expectations since the staff there is always so pleasant and open to suggestions. So far we have had only one bad meal there and that was our first dinner there a long time ago when we ordered their absolutely dreadful paella. After the paella fiasco, we didn´t go back for months but, upon returning, had such beautifully cooked fresh fish and shellfish, we have been back many times with never a less than excellent meal.

A word about what you infer was undercooked fish and sushi. The only fish we have had at Tabarka that was served rare to the point that it was charred on the outside and cool in the middle has been their (what we consider) fabulous thick-cut tuna steaks and it has been our experience that that is the only way to prepare great fresh tuna steaks. Fully cooked tuna is always, in our experience, dry and uninteresting. We recommend to the reader who has not tried Tabarka and sees the fresh tuna on the menu when going there, that they try this dish rare as normally prepared by the chef there and, if you love tuna, you will love this dish which, prepared rare in that fashion, is typical of what one would expect whether in San Francisco, Seattle or Paris. Great stuff if that´s what you like.

As for sushi, we have never been to Japan but have eaten fabulous sushi in San Francisco, especially in Japantown and in New York and (to a lesser extent) in Paris. I´m afraid that, if we returned to San Francisco and our favorite hole-in-the-wall sushi joint there, we would go so crazy making up for lost time we would come down with iodine poisoning. Since even remotely fine sushi does not exist anywhere in the the parts of Mexico with which we are familiar, I would never recommend dining on sushi in Mexico even though what I would call "pop" sushi, (sushi which is to real sushi as Taco Bell is to real tacos) is extremely popular in Guadalajara. If your idea of sushi is California Rolls wirh cream cheese, have at it, folks.

Just as an aside, our favorite sushi joint in San Francisco is INO Sushi in Japantown. Ino is a perfectionist from the old country and a fabulous sushi chef but God help you if you are not a purist and enter his haven. We were there one day when two Florida tourists came in and ordered California Rolls and were given three seconds to vacate the premise under fear of being chased down the stree by Ino wielding a cleaver.
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Post by Peter Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:08 pm

As one who professes to like well-cooked to over-cooked fish I have to say you are absolutely right about rare tuna. Well-cooked fresh tuna is a travesty. Sashimi of thin-sliced raw tuna woke me up to what sushi can be.

I had a Japanese girlfriend in the 70's and could never quite get behind what they merely called "rice balls" and characterized them as dead fish wrapped in rice and seaweed. An alternate form of these used some gawdawful Japanese pickles instead of dead fish and were no improvement.

It was a couple decades later when someone sliced those little balls into wheels, had some better stuffing for them, added some roasted sesame seeds and sauce with soy, sake, and ginger that it became palatable.

I have since become a little more daring with what I will try and can appreciate the skill and presentation of fine sushi. However, after spending time and a small fortune at a nice California sushi bar, in another half-hour I would likely to be found at a Carl's drive-thru ordering a Super Star to get some "real food."
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