We and Me & Julio

Deciding to check out Me & Julio’s Honourable Mention in this year’s Vancouver restaurant awards, we had dinner there last night. Overall, it it was pretty good.

Me & Julio advertizes itself as the “modern Mexican kitchen” and it lives up to that. The dishes use traditional ingredients and forms (taco, enchiladas, etc) but combine them in new ways and plate them flawlessly with modern style. The menu isn’t long, allowing the kitchen to focus on a few good ideas.

My better half chose the paella, which had also tempted me. Unfortunately, it was bland and uninteresting. It seemed to cry out for salt, but at the same time one knew that would simply change it, not improve it. I had much better luck with the bistec. It was rare as ordered and came with a fine if unoriginal prune sauce. Side vegetables were excellent and the horseradish-avocado mash was very good indeed.

They have a huge serving staff and service was polite and competent. However, they don’t seem to have the same staffing levels in the kitchen and the wait for food was too long. On a more positive note, they have used the space available really well, with a single large room. Decoration is muted and attractive, comfortable to be in. Popular, too: There always seemed to be folks at the door waiting to get in.

An aside: The short menu, the happy bistro ambience created by the one-large-space, and the dominating bar are attributes Me & Julio shares with the Reef. From the outside at least, Timbre looks to be similar. Waazubee was one of the forerunners of this style on the Drive, but their space is too dark and internal to work as well. Charlatans would like to be seen that way, I believe, but the multiple levels takes it out of the one-large-space category. With at least three new restaurants opening with this style, perhaps this is the new Drive look and feel. I don’t mind it at all.

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One Response to We and Me & Julio

  1. The Little Woman says:

    The paella was absolutely beautiful. I saw it being delivered to another patron of the restaurant and he tucked right in. The fresh stuff was fresh, not over-cooked. The placement of the shell fish was picture perfect. But the mussels were not the best, the chicken (menu said smoked) was perhaps just past its “best by” time. And the taste was flat. I wanted to put lime juice on it or salt or lemon or something…something.

    The restaurant seems to have a glow to it, rich and warm and inviting. A bronze wall with sconces sporting candlelight is really attractive. If we go back I’d like to face the restaurant instead of the work stations. That way I could see how the restaurant flows and works. The boggle between the cooking line and the servers was far too apparent from where I sat, that and the fact that people who came in long after us were served long before we were. Doesn’t matter if you’re not hungry…but we were.

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