Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Off the Map: Can We Have Some Forks? And Some Flavor?

Huevos Montulenos -- Golden West Cafe, Baltimore, MD
Golden West Cafe

For the record, it is not easy to eat a pile of slop sans a fork.  We now have a new respect for pigs.

Vodka and her Baltimore-residing friend, Bloody Mary, are at Golden West Cafe for the third stop on our whirlwind tour of Baltimore Best Thing I Ever Ate locations, and almost instantly, we smell trouble.
Mmm, The Smell of Deer Carcass in the Morning
Perched on the two bar stools furthest from the action, we are surrounded by images of antlers and multi-colored lanterns, and apparently, we are also "the forgotten ones."  At least that's what we discern for how long it takes us to procure two cups of coffee.
Starbucks-Level Waiting Period, Non-Starbucks-Level Results
In a wise but disheartening decision, we have agreed not to drink this round in order to try to preserve both our stamina and Bloody Mary's lack of DUIs.  However, our once chipper (okay, "chipper" is relative in this case) attitudes deteriorate so rapidly within the walls of Golden West Cafe that we soon realize we have made the wrong choice with our non-spiked coffee.
We Need Some Liquid Courage to Get Through This Decor
Placing an order for Duff Goldman's favorite WAKE UP CALL dish, the huevos montulenos, we are optimistic that this "breakfast" will turn our downward spiral around.  Unfortunately for all involved, it ends up having the opposite effect.
Ina Garten Would Not Approve of This Plating "Style"
When the platter is placed in front of us, we both stare at it blindly for two reasons:
1. We can't distinguish half of the food on the plate.
2. We are without silverware, so what else is there to do but look at the thing?
We Are Presumably Supposed to Dive In Snout-First
Vodka, ever patient (ahem), tries multiple times to get someone -- anyone -- to hand over some forks.  When we finally receive our long-awaited utensils, we are almost sorry, as they bring us to the first bite of the huevos montulenos.

And the huevos montulenos are not good.
Its Aesthetics Should Have Been a Tip-Off to That Point
According to the Golden West Cafe menu, the huevos montulenos contain whole kernel corn cakes, two sunny-side-up eggs, black or pinto beans (note: we were not given a choice and received pinto), red or green chile sauce (again, no option was given -- we had green), feta cheese, salsa fresca, a fried banana, and a flour tortilla.  You know what all of these things look like on a single plate?  A mish-mosh of mess.
The Homemade Tortilla = The Only Decent Thing about this Meal
At first, even after receiving our forks, we are unsure as to how we're supposed to eat this thing -- do we wrap up the components in the tortilla like a fajita?  Pinch bites between our fingers?  Scoop it onto our forks like civilized people?  We are at a loss.  Asking the bartender provides no help in this matter, as she "has never had it" so thinks we "can eat it however we want."  Thanks for the insight, lady.
So Even the Golden West Employees Won't Eat This...?
We decide that, rather than acting like cavemen, we will use the forks for which we have been waiting so long.  And the first bite provides us with a strong and unmistakable flavor: spice.  Not satisfying-kick-in-the-pants spice.  Not burn-your-mouth-off-in-one-forkful spice.  Just spice.  No subtlty, no nuance.  Only pure, unadulterated chiles.

The further we attempt to make our way through the plate, the more disappointed we become: the corn cakes are vaguely cold and fall apart into their respective kernels every time a fork touches them; the eggs are way overcooked and not a single hint of a runny yolk can be found (needless to say, Ginger would be pleased); the feta cheese is so minimal that we would not even had known it was present had the menu not told us so; and the fried bananas are off-puttingly sweet, forcing us  to make every effort to avoid even the sight of them.
Now Doesn't This Look Appetizing?
We believe this dish is supposed to be some form of a "hangover cure," but Bloody Mary has no qualms about stating, "I am very hungover and this isn't doing it for me."  By the end of our "meal," at least three-quarters of the huevos montulenos remain on the plate, and we are making various facial contortions to express our displeasure.  As we gather up our belongings and slither off our barstools, Vodka has only one conclusion on our disappointing Golden West Cafe outing: "This is what happens when we don't drink."

Golden West Cafe's Huevos Montulenos: 1 star


  1. Sounds to me that this should have gotten only 1 star!! Nothing worse than looking forward to eating a dish and it does not live up to expectations!!

  2. AMEN!!!!!!!!! What a nasty pile of slop that was. Mine had the added bonus of barely cooked pinto beans. One of the worst meals of my life.