Where to begin? I am not even going to bother with scoring this one, but I will try to provide some context.
It was late at night, I’ll admit, around midnight, so my expectations were lower than normal. I was delighted to find a place serving late night american/mexican food, so I was willing to relax my standards. Good thing.
The nachos looked good when they arrived, piled high with cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, but it was all down hill from there.
A distinctly funky taste was noticable – which I came to pinpoint as slightly “off” (as in moldy) cheese, so there was a little “sweat socks” vibe going on. Given the context, that did not deter me – too much. I still picked around, taking chips from the bottom with less cheese.
That’s when I noticed their “secret ingredient,” a small brown bit, about the size of a peanut, but flatter.
I’m used to finding random burnt cheese bits or whatever fell into the fryer with the chips. I don’t like it, but I wasn’t going to raise a fit over that. The size and shape concerned me though, so I examined the “bit” a little closer (this is gross, but I even smelled it).
I can’t tell you exactly what it was, but I can tell you that it had legs and some kind of scaley body. Clearly (and I say this with total confidence) it was a bug. Still not wanting to make a fuss unless I was sure – I examined the specimin closer, my appetite vanished and I waited for our waiter to check on us so we could discuss this interesting nacho topping.
The conversation was in spanish, so I may not have expressed myself as clearly as I would have liked, but I got across that I had found a bug in the nachos and that I would not be finishing them. The waiter was very appologetic after looking at the bug, and took the plate away.
I figured that he would take the nachos off the bill and we could be on our way. Then the manager comes out and explains to me that it was not a bug, but a dried cranberry. He even went back into the kitchen to bring out a dried cranberry on a plate for me to inspect. They of course looking nothing alike, after all, cranberries don’t have legs, but the manager would not be swayed. They offered to bring me a free drink, or a flan perhaps.
I couldn’t even imagine eating anything else at that point, so I declined, still certain that they would not request that we pay for the nachos.
Our bill comes, and they leave the nachos on there! Of course I am then livid – wishing I had brought up the fact of the moldy cheese, but also knowing that it probably wouldn’t have made a difference to them. I am realizing more and more eating out in DC, I have to be very clear about what I want when I speak to waiters/managers at restaurants.
It’s not enough to point out that there is a roach in your food. Instead I should say, “Excuse me, there is a bug in my nachos. Please take these away, as I feel as though I might vomit. Also, could you please take these off of my bill, as that might encourage me not to call the health department about this incident? Comp-ing our entire bill actually might be the best thing. Thanks so much.”
I’ll try that next time, but not at El Tamarindo, as I will NEVER be eating there again.