“A carload of carne asada”….

I warned Josh that I was going to misquote him when we went to Co-Si-Na Grill last night. It was a little loud in there, so I could barely hear him. (I still don’t know what he actually said.) You won’t care about talking though, once you get the amazing food in front of you.

The instinctual feeling that “this place is going to be good” starts when you walk in the door. The interior is tastefully done in earth tones with dimmable lights, candles and cool paintings. Very understated. When I looked at the menu, I could barely make up my mind; I wanted everything. Another good sign. So, all four of us, Laurent and I, and our friends Josh and Landi, negotiated our dinner choices, ordering four different items, so we could try as many different flavors as possible. Don’t you love that kind of dining partner? In my world, you would be nixed from future dinner dates if you are not sharers and don’t follow polite ordering protocol, which are based on my rules, of course!

Salsa. The beginning of the end. The telltale sign. Would Co-Si-Na pass Laurent’s salsa test? After Polvos, this could be a potentially impossible feat. The answer was…..

….YES! The three salsas were great! One was nice and fresh and tomato-y. One was deep, rich, smoky and spicy, but enjoyably so. Laurent’s favorite, always the salsa verde, was bright, tangy, not tart, flavorful and had a hint of roastiness. We were on the right track!

Staying on track, all entrees come with soup or salad.  How nice is that? We actually all ordered the tortilla soup, because it sounded so good and how excited can you get over a salad, anyways? I fell in love with tortilla soup at Sanborns in Mexico City years ago, and I always order it when it is on a menu. This was a lovely version, a little bit different, very light. Josh and his refined palate picked up a hint of a spice we couldn’t place at first. We all decided it was clove. You know when you have the perfect pho, Vietnamese noodle soup, and it has just the right amount of cinnamon in it, a trace, for my liking. This is what the tortilla soup reminded me of. The clove added a touch of complexity and refinement.  (I hope I am not totally lying about the clove  and it was a figment of our imaginations, but I don’t think it was. All four of us were in agreement and we’re pretty good at the “name that ingredient” game.)

Entrees. Everyone was totally smitten with their choices and with each others. The forks were flying….first into Josh’s Tilapia Hidalguinse. The tilapia was wrapped in cornhusks and filled with nopalitos, fresh herbs, garlic and onions with an arbol chile sauce. The dish was served with chorizo potatoes, which totally added bonus points. Even among all the other strong flavors in the dish, you never lost the flavor of the fish which was light and flaky and delicate.

I ordered the pork tenderloin with mole Dona Esperanza. Talk about complex. This mole, which was the chef’s mother’s recipe, had nineteen different ingredients in it. It was dark and bitter and earthy, but still somehow fruity and not heavy. I know esperanza means “hope” in Spanish. I can only hope that any other mole I come across, tastes like this! I also have to say that the pork tenderloin was cooked perfectly, tender and  juicy, probably about medium. That fact also helped to “enlighten” the flavor of the dish.

Two more entrees. I cannot write this post without going over all four of them, as they were so good, and I am thoroughly enjoying reliving each one of them!

Enchiladas Suizas were Landi’s choice. I’m thinking enchiladas are enchiladas, buried under tons of rubbery cheese. Not at Co-Si-Na. These Mexican classics had the ranchero sauce, the cheese and the sour cream, but they were quite refined. There was no smothering with cheese going on at all. You could taste all the ingredients inside; the grilled skirt steak, the adobe chicken and the spinach and cheese. Landi smartly ordered one of each. A trained professional, she is!

Mmmm….just remembering the La Oaxequena that Laurent ordered makes me salivate. The grilled beef tenderloin was covered with melted cheese, which was not even necessary, and green tomatillo mole. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare and it was juicy. I was a little surprised, because it was tenderloin. We are rib-eye people for the very reason that juicy “fat equals flavor” equation usually can’t be achieved with tenderloin. The chef at Co-Si-Na achieved nirvana with this tenderloin. And then went on to oh-so-smartly add the tangy tomatillo mole to cut the richness of the luxurious steak, all for $19!

So, to snap out of my reverie and finally wrap this post up….Co-Si-Na is a BYOB restaurant, which is just one more reason, not that you needed one, to warm up the car and drive up to Andersonville.

Co-Si-Na Grill  1706 W. Foster   773-271-7103   www.cosinagrill.com

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2 Comments

Filed under Cafes

2 responses to ““A carload of carne asada”….

  1. rachel

    you know, before i even read this post, I literally just noticed this place coming home on my bike. I almost feel like it just jumped in there…. like it’s haunting a former restaurants location, but in a good way. Now I’ll have to stop it!

    • It was a former Mexican restaurant that I never made it to. I’m telling you, this place just feels right. I liked it better than Mixteco! It is up there with Cucina Meztiza Mudial or whatever the heck it is called in my book, but more pleasant inside.

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