Restaurant Week Summer 2008 Restaurant Review: Dos Caminos

Filed under living in new york is neat, restaurant ramblings

Last night, Boyfriend Kamran and I were indecisive about where to go for dinner as usual, and it was annoying me to the point that I just wanted to forget the whole thing and eat spaghetti on his couch. When our bus from his work neared the Dos Caminos on 3rd Ave., though, he asked if I felt like stopping there. Of course I did; I suggested it for dinner sometime last week and was still craving it, but I’d already mentioned another Mexican place, and he hadn’t jumped at the chance, so I figured he wasn’t in the mood for salsa. But at the last minute, he said, “Let’s go!”, and it turned out to be THE BEST DECISION EVER.

We’re masochists, so we requested a table on the patio, where the jalapeños could be sure to push our internal juices from tepid to boiling. The host led us along the side of the restaurant and seated us at the greatest booth–facing the street and all the other patrons for our voyeuristic pleasure–with burnt orange cushions to sit on and pillows to lounge with. We settled in, he handed us our menus, and we discovered that it’s the start of Restaurant Week Summer 2008! It’s the two weeks each season where all of the restaurants that usually charge $35+ just for their entrees charge $35 altogether for an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. It’s great for people like me who aren’t quite sure they’re ready to spend an entire paycheck for some almond-crusted mahi mahi that they may end up hating and a great way to find out if that chef everyone exclaims about is really any better than the guy microwaving the chicken fingers in the kitchen of your local Applebee’s.

We should’ve known, of course, because we spent an entire day at the beginning of the month choosing our restaurants, but our first reservation isn’t until Friday. And we would’ve never chosen this particular place, because it’s somewhere we can go any time, but the Dos Caminos Restaurant Week menu blew me away.

To start, Kamran ordered the Tomatillo, Pineapple, & Mint Gazpacho with spanish chorizo and pickled cucumber, which was cool and refreshing with the sweetest cucumber and little chunks of chorizo that looked like cat treats but tasted smoky and spicy and had the pleasantest chew to them. He had chosen the soup over the pork flautas simply because it looked more interesting, and we’re positive it was the right choice.

I, of course, went with the Croquetas de Queso, which the menu described as “crispy potato croquettes stuffed with cotija cheese” and Kamran described as “gourmet mozzarella sticks”. The cheese and potato oozed from their sides, the orangey-red romesco salsa was a totally new taste for me, and the greens in the center of the plate created a compliment that I didn’t know was possible as far as lettuce goes.

Kamran chose the Hanger Steak Tampiquena (grilled hanger steak, mole negro enchilada, black beans, avocado) for his entree and was really impressed. He’d ordered a steak once before at Dos Caminos and hadn’t cared for it, so I’d dissuaded him from the hanger, but I’m glad he ignored me, because this thing was fla-vor-FUL. The corn tortillas were brimming with cheese and smothered in mole, and the beans were, you know, bean-y and in a big bowl on the side.

My dish was even more phenomenal. It’s like this thing was meant for me, made with all of my favourites: chorizo-stuffed chicken breast, pickled golden raisins, toasted almond rice, and mole de xico. Bliss, bliss, and heaven!

I know I’m supposed to be embarrassed to be a chicken fanatic, but this chicken dish was THE BEST. The poultry was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, the chorizo wasn’t overpoweringly spicy, and the almond rice was fantastic on its own but even better when mixed with the mole. Just LOOK at it!

Kamran had originally decided on the Mexican Chocolate & Cherry Semifreddo with fresh bing cherry salsita, and I on the Pastel de Elote with mango-blackberry salsita and sweet corn ice cream (because I’m a corn ice cream freak), but when it came time to order, I just went with the first one on the list–the chocolate–to make it easier. We decided to split them 50-50, but when they arrived and we tasted our own and then each other’s, we found that we’d each ended up with the right dessert for us.

The corn ice cream was surprisingly too intense for me (and almost nothing is too intense for me); the chocolate was too bitter for Kamran (even though it wasn’t actually bitter at all and tasted awesome to me). He described his as “corncake with corn ice cream”, and if the cake was a bit dry for my liking, the the little bits of syrupy mango here and there made up for it. The most interesting thing about it was that the ice cream was bordering savory; corn ice creams I’ve had in the past have always been balanced by either a whole lotta sugar or some sort of berry swirled in, but this was straight up CORN-flavored. It was strange and delicious, and like I said, really intense.

Kamran described my dessert as “gross sour chocolate mousse”, but when I called him on it, he said, “Okay, I acknowledge that I am a neophyte when it comes to serious chocolate. I am to chocolate as you are to everything but chocolate.” OUCH! But he’s right–I’m serious about chocolate. I can take it super-dark or I can take it milky light, and the pointed curved piece on my plate was dark with a hint of fruit. The mousse was creamy at first, but when I started working toward the middle of the mound, it became colder and almost frozen; I found out why when I got to the center and found a surprise frozen cherry.

I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed the meal, especially when I’ve considered the restaurant only good and not exceptional in the past. It was the most pleasant start to Restaurant Week I can imagine, and now I’m even more pumped for our other ventures.


  1. Tracey says:

    Yummy! I imagine the chef would be very pleased with your review. Except for that part about his chorizo looking like cat treats.

  2. topsy says:

    your blog is making me really hungry :(

    • I WOULD tell you to go to Estrada, where I ate almost every night in college because it was cheap as hell and happened to be at the end of my block, but someone told me it closed (burned?) down. Which I guess I’m secretly pleased by, because I applied to be a waitress there once, and the owner told me I wasn’t hoochie enough.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I hate that your blog has turned into little more than a series of restaurant reviews.

    • I would argue that the four entries before this weren’t restaurant reviews. And then I would argue further that the seven entries before the last restaurant review weren’t restaurant reviews, either. But I understand that not being from NYC, you couldn’t care less how well I’m eating out here.

  4. spaghedeity says:

    Weird. The link to comment on this post didn’t appear on the LiveJournal entry.

    Whenever I read your restaurant reviews, I’m reminded of how inexperienced I am food-wise. I used to think I had exotic tastes–with my sundried tomato and cottage cheese crackers–but then you go and mention shit like gazpacho and mole de xico, and I feel like a n00b.

    • I noticed! (Because I pretty much stalk my blog night and day.) I’m guessing I was pinging Feedburner too much, and their spider got pissed off and decided to ignore my entry.

      I was totally inexperienced and uninterested in food until I met Kamran. He used to read cookbooks as a kid and has been watching the Food Network since its first day (nerd); couple that with the fact that he’s a know-it-all smartypants, and he’s always teaching me things. Now I’m interested in trying everything (except grubs), and it’s neat when you’ve tasted so many things that you can recognise the difference between good and mediocre. Save up $100, and we’ll go try a fancy tasting menu when you’re here! I’m pumped to get you fat!

      Your crackers sound awesome, by the way.

  5. Serial says:

    I hate you forever for getting to eat that meal.


    • Kamran was totally mad at you for saying this. He was all, “She thinks THAT was a great meal? Just wait until we go to Megu on Friday.” He’s sort of an elitist bastard, you see.

      But I think you’re right in hating me. Luckily, you’re a gourmet chef and can recreate these in your own home.

  6. Emily says:

    I want that! It’s been so long since I’ve had a nice, fancy meal. I have food envy. Poop on you and your NY restaurant experiences that I can’t have. But poop on you and your NY restaurant experience that I can’t have with love.

    • And the great thing is that while most of these so-called fancy meals leave us coming home to fill up on candy, that chicken dish of mine provided me leftovers for two lunches. Poor girl score!

      You need to let one of those rich old men who hit on you take you OUT, baby.

  7. Emily says:

    Whoa. Poor girl score, indeed.

    And for the record, it was only one rich old man, and last I heard he was toting around some Asian chick. So it looks like I passed up my opportunity to eat fancy foods with an old rich man.