Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Blue Tortilla, New Hope, PA

This past Sunday, Jeff and I drove out to Bucks county to see a lady about a dog. The dog is a sweetheart and gorgeous to boot - we'll be taking her home in a few weeks. (I'd post a picture, but it was getting dark, so the few I took didn't do her justice.)

On the way home, we decided to stop in New Hope for dinner. (Well, actually, this was decided well beforehand. I shouldn't make it sound like we come upon these places by chance - there is plenty of planning involved!) Since we've gotten good at cooking for ourselves, going out to dinner has lost some of its attraction. I no longer want to go to a mediocre restaurant and pay $15 for an entree that I could have made (or worse, that I could have made even better). I want delicious food. I want food made from scratch. And I'd prefer organic ingredients. This means more planning is needed.

In looking up restaurants, I've started relying on the Eat Well Guide on my links page. Unfortunately, it has nothing for the Lambertville/New Hope area, despite its plethora of interesting restaurants. Instead, I had to wing it. This ended up working out quite well, though, because a Google map search of the area brought me to the website of The Blue Tortilla.

This quaint little place is just north of the bridge on North Main St, and right next door to a public parking lot. The restaurant is pleasantly decorated with Mexican artwork, including some cool statues. The front window displays jars of their homemade salsa. I was a little dismayed at how empty it was - we were there around 6:30 on a Sunday. When we got there a group of four were finishing their meal, and in the hour we stayed, not a single customer walked in. This could be chalked up to the weather, though - it was rather cold out and there were very few people on the street (New Hope generally has crowds of pedestrians). Despite being the only people there and being able to choose our table, I sat us in a place with no overhead lighting, so pardon the dark pictures.

When I saw homemade corn chips on the menu, I immediately ordered them. Both the chips and the two salsas that came with them (which, unfortunately, I neglected to get in my picture) were great. I thought the chips needed a little more salt, but they were perfect for the combo of salsas. I don't normally have salsa verde, so I can't critique it well, but I enjoyed it. I really liked the salsa roja, which had a rich heartiness to it. Both salsas had a fair bit of heat to them.

Jeff ordered the chicken chipotle soup as a starter. It had a generous amount of chicken, beans and avocado. I only had a taste, but I really enjoyed the mild spiciness of it. While my mouth was on fire from the salsa (I'm a weakling when it comes to heat, though I'm trying to work on it), this was a very different sort of heat that I felt in another area of my mouth. It was refreshing to have all of those different areas activated, rather than just continually burning one.

For my entree, I ordered the chicken in molé. I was very excited to see this on the menu, since it's something I've wanted to try for some time. The waitress asked if I'd ever had a molé before. When I said no, she offered to bring me a taste before putting in my order, to make sure I would enjoy it. I really appreciated this - and it was indicative of the rest of the service (although, with one table to deal with, the waitress could afford to be attentive). The molé had a rich chocolatey flavor at first that built into a medium sort of heat. Again, this heat seemed to rest in a different location in my mouth than the others. The texture was velvety and smooth. I devoured the sample - I could have eaten a whole bowl. When it came out on the chicken, it didn't disappoint. The chicken breast was juicy and practically fell apart on the thinner end. The molé was really the star, though - I would have thought chocolate and chicken didn't go together, but this was not a desserty chocolate, it was a rich, hearty chocolate. It came with homemade corn tortillas, a side of rice, and a side of delicious mashed black beans. I usually don't eat the beans at Mexican restaurants - I hate refried beans - but these were very different. They were very smooth, almost like mashed potatoes, with only a bit of that mealy bean flavor at the end. Instead of pushing them away, I ate the whole portion. It was more than I could eat at one sitting, but the leftovers reheated well, and I got to enjoy the delicious sauce once more. I wish I'd saved a bit for today!

Jeff's entree was the picaditas with cochinita pibil - thick, lightly fried corn tortillas topped with marinated pork. The pork was delicious, with a citrusy edge to it. I didn't get to taste the tortillas, but since Jeff all but licked his plate clean, I believe they were great too.

So overall, I think this place is a winner. If you're ever looking for homemade, authentic Mexican food in eastern Pennsylvania, this is the place to go. Despite being in a town that's packed with great restaurants (and just across the river from another), I think I'm going to give this one a lot of repeat visits.

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