Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Donde Tonio

Donde Tonio
425 7th St
Lake Charles, LA
Seven day a week 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM $3-$15
This establishment owned by a Columbian family touts Latin Cuisine on their sign. Located in the former Mama Rosa little has been done to the building. It seems to be a barebones operation that offers tasty well seasoned but not spicy food.
Starting with breakfast my particular friend, his artistic wife and I opted to split a Breakfast Tamal not on the menu. It consisted of shredded pork in white masa wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf. It could have been a meal by itself. The masa was moist with a distinct flavor and aroma and filled with tasty sweet meat. My artistic friend ordered Fried Egg, Ham and Chorizo with a baked pistolette. The chorizo was not a cured Spanish product or a wet Mexican product with paprika. It proved to be a link sausage like Louisiana smoked sausage but with a unique flavor profile, quite tasty. My particular friend opted for Scrambled Eggs with Onions, Tomatoes, and Chorizo with a bake pistolette. They both expressed satisfaction with the meal. I got the Pork Leg Sandwich with Lettuce and Tomato. I received on a half loaf of wonderful bread (nice crust, firm but soft crumb) somewhat like Italian bread two huge slices of griddled roasted pork. Delicious and tender with great flavor, I would get it again in a second.
For lunch they have daily specials which have not changed yet. Friday I ate a red jambalaya/paella with shredded chicken, peas and rice with a side of sliced avocado and fried ripe plantains. It proved OK but fairly bland. On a Wednesday I ordered Tortilla Chicken Soup, way too much tortilla with not enough of the tasty broth. My lunch companion (I ran into someone there I knew and we shared a table) got the Avocado Salad. A bed of lettuce topped with avocado and radish surrounded by red onion, tomato and cucumber slices. She loved it. I got the lunch special of shredded beef, rice, lentils and patacones (unripe plantains double fried like potato chips). Again OK but somewhat bland with the salty patacones standing out. I ended with a tasty piece of Flan with a citrusy caramel, delicious
Dinner was more successful except for the horrible tortilla chips brought to the table. A complimentary shredded beef empanada with a spicy green chile dipping sauce made up for that. Each one at the table got one of these mini empanadas. Everybody enjoyed it. My royal friend ordered what was called pulled pork. It turned out to be pork, chicken, and beef grilled then served fajita style with sauteed onions and bell peppers on an oval cast iron skillet with flour tortillas on the side. My bite proved tasty and flavorful and she ate it all. My sister and our enthusiastic friend opted for Grilled Salmon served with potatoes in a parsley butter sauce (declared delicious by all) and just right vegetable medley (green beans, carrots and broccoli). Again my taste of it revealed a different and wonderful flavor profile. Our baking friend got a grilled pork loin filet. It proved tender with lots of flavor. Finally our new food-board friend and I went with Bandeja Paisa. It is a Columbian dish of griddled then minced steak, chorizo sausage, strip of fried pork belly (cracklin), slice of fried ripe plantain, a egg fried sunny side up atop rice and a cup of red beans. I attacked it by cutting up the egg and mixing it with the rice then adding the minced steak and topping with beans. I ate this ensemble between bites of sausage and chicharron. Don’t know if this was the correct way but it worked for me. Again good flavors and something I would order again
Pricing is quite moderate. Service is erratic and a bit slow. They seem to be willing to please but likely have had little experience. The food is not spicy (I did notice Tabasco on the table last time in) but most items seemed well seasoned and tasty with a flavor profile I have not encountered before. I recommend this place for a change of pace but to enjoy it approach it with patience

1 comment:

Angela said...

I just tried Donde Tonio for Sunday lunch. I read your review and agree that it is a place for a different culinary experience - if you have the patience. However, the food was very good. I tried the tortila soup and enjoyed it. It may have been slightly too salty and the tortilas were more dumpling like. The chips were reminiscent of Hugo's in Houston, not the expected corn chips found at the standard Mexican restaurant. I found them spicy and flavorful, particularly good with the cool creamy dip. I will recommend it to my friends for a change in taste. I really want to go for Friday's lunch!