That was my reaction to the chicken mole I tried to eat at Perla Taqueria, a new restaurant in the old Mrs. Winner's building at 1958 Piedmont Road. (That's a block or two north of Piedmont's intersection with Cheshire Bridge.) The dish consisted of two leg quarters, undercooked and stringy, beneath a muddy black sauce whose taste was bitter without relent. When one of the restaurant's very pleasant employees came by my table and asked what I thought, I said, "I'm amazed. Is this stuff made here?" He looked at me blankly and moved on. No, it wasn't a case of a language barrier.
I also ordered a cup of frijoles charros — not bad but way watery.
I decided I should return. And, indeed, the next day I had a better meal, the best of which was a tamale stuffed with shredded chicken breast and steamed in a corn leaf. The chicken was cooked in a red chile sauce and had a nice burn. I also ordered an al pastor taco. It wasn't real al pastor pork shaved from a rotisserie, but chunks of meat and pineapple. Not bad. Ditto for a barbacoa taco featuring brisket and a tomatillo sauce.
I'm not really sure what's going on here. Along with tongue, the menu includes tacos made with "buttermilk fried chicken" and barbecued brisket with slaw. I guess this is in the spirit of Taqueria del Sol. Desserts, except for an odd tres leches cake, had nothing in common with Mexico that I could discern. Comen red velvet cake en Mexico?
These people have had a hard time getting started. Just as they were ready to open a month ago, fire required they start over. I hate that Perla is so very...mystifying. But I'll go back until it gets good. I will however leave it to others to test the mole.
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