Literal Interpretations

CREMA

A reminder to always manage expectations.

I need to keep reminding myself that I’m in New York. Not California, home to the best and most authentic Mexican food (and Calexican food) in the country. New York. Home to the best Jewish and Italian food in the country.

Not Mexican food.

Crema, was unfortunately, a rude reminder of this fact. I keep hoping that one day I will stumble across a restaurant that will convince me that New York City doesn’t always ruin the Mexican cuisine.

But alas, my search continues.

Crema_Guacamole_Combo
Guacamole Combo | $14 (+$4 for House Salsas)

Before I get into the food, I just want to say something quickly about service. I don’t usually complain about service, I’m very understanding of a packed, busy restaurant, especially in the last days of restaurant week. However, I don’t think it’s acceptable that a waiter prioritizes a table that was seated 20-30 minutes later than us and fails to see us when we’re actually trying to order. This experience was made worse by a nearly altogether horrible meal.

Anyways, let’s move onto why we’re here – food.

We started with margaritas. I had ordered a blackberry margarita before my roommate came, and we ordered mango margaritas once we were seated.

But we knew that we were hungry enough that a) we wouldn’t be able to wait until our meal came and b) might actually get drunk off their margaritas, so we ordered chips. The waiter asked if I wanted the guacamole combo and I didn’t realize the level of disappointment I was setting myself up for.

$14 guacamole should be a crime. An $18 guacamole combo should be punishable by death. In what world are ingredients so expensive and guacamole so good that it is worth an $14-$18 price tag?

Crema’s guacamole combo (the guacamole plus their two “house salsas”) was definitely not worth this price. In fact, if I wasn’t so hungry, I wouldn’t have even paid $9 for this combo.

The guacamole is described as, “mashed avocados, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, lime juice served with totopos or warm corn tortillas.” But honestly, all you can taste are bland avocados.

I was alarmed by the fact that you could hardly taste the avocado in the guacamole, and it seemed to either have been aerated from being prepped in a food processor or blender, or filled with some sort of filler or cream, which caused it to, well, taste like a mild avocado sauce.

Extremely disappointing and extremely overpriced.

And don’t even get me started on the salsas. They tasted like “Mexican-inspired” marinara sauces that did absolutely nothing for the guacamole or the chips. Not worth it.

Crema_Octopus_2
Pulpo a las Brasas | $16

The appetizers we got, however, were much better. The “Pulpo a las Brasas” was perfectly charred, cooked, and seasoned, and were just as good as I remembered from my last visit. Definitely worth getting and worth every penny!

Crema_Flautas
Flautas en Trilogía de Salsas | $13

The “Flautas” on the other hand, were run-of-the mill.  They weren’t spectacular, but they weren’t bad either. One comment my roommate made was that there was far too much cream in relation to the flautas and not enough acidity to cut through it. Maybe the taquitos – “slow-cooked pork mini tacos chile ancho, jalapeño vinegar, chipotle-cilantro drizzle and crema” – would have been a better option?

Crema_Fish_Taco_1
Tacos de Pescado | $14

The fish tacos, described as, “spice corn meal catch of the day,jalapeno, jicama coleslaw, guacamole, chipotle aioli” were probably one of the worst dishes of the night. Fish tacos are deceptively simple in appearance, but hard to execute well. Most of the additions to the tacos did nothing in terms of flavor and, again, there was far too much cream in proportion to everything else. I mean, we get the name of the restaurant is “Crema” but they could use a lesson in moderation.

Crema_Steak_Taco_1
Tacos de Carne Asada | $14

The carne asada tacos, described on their menu as “adobo-marinated grilled skirt steak, black beans served in corn tortillas” is okay. Not spectacular, but not bad. When you’re used to tacos al pastor from the taco truck outside of your work, it’s hard to convince yourself anything else tastes better. Again, the pica de gallo and avocado didn’t do much, there were quite a lot of black beans and the steak, while marinated well, was overpowered by too much of its bland components. The carne asada should really be the star here, but unfortunately, it’s not.

Crema_Churro_1
Churros | $10

After an overall-disappointing (and expensive!) meal, we decided we would still order dessert (the churros were the main reason I came back in the first place). The churros are described as, “cinnamon dusted churros, chocolate and cajeta dipping sauce” and they are really good, I mean, probably the best I’ve had in New York. They are filled with some sort of filling (probably the cajeta sauce) and they are the perfect combination of crunchy and doughy. Altogether perfect.

If I came back, I’d probably just stick to a tapas menu of margaritas, octopus, and churros. Dining at Crema twice has taught me my lesson. Mexican food still sucks in New York.

Have you found any good Mexican restaurants in New York? Help a girl out:

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