Friday, October 10, 2014

Rosa Mexicano, an old favorite, comes through at a $16.95 lunch

At Rose Mexicano in Hackensack, a large oval plate holding Crepas de Cajeta -- crepes soaked in a sinful caramel sauce, ice cream and fresh strawberries -- one of two desserts available at a fixed-price, three-course lunch during (201) Restaurant Week.

The dining and bar rooms are beautifully decorated, and the kitchen makes just about all of the dishes from scratch.


After a disappointing (201) Restaurant Week lunch at The Oceanaire Seafood Room on Tuesday, I turned to one of my favorites, Rosa Mexicano, part of a restaurant row in the same Hackensack shopping center.

The $16.95 lunch at the fine-dining Mexican restaurant offers a wider choice than the meal at the pricey seafood place -- five appetizers, five entrees, two desserts or three beverages for people like me who try to avoid sugary, artery clogging food.

I met a friend there on Thursday, and for an appetizer, we shared a chunky guacamole made at our table in the beautiful dining room.

Then, each of us had a large salad with grilled salmon and kale tossed in a delicious vinaigrette.

He finished with a huge dessert, but I chose a freshly made agua fresca, a traditional Mexican drink.

I left stuffed and completely satisfied.

The restaurant's signature chunky guacamole is made with only one Hass avocado and normally costs $14, compared to $10 in January 2010. We asked the server to make it spicy, and it was terrific.

Instead of dessert, I chose a sweetened pineapple Agua Fresca. The waiter brought me a second pitcher and offered a third.

Ensalada Picada with Grilled Salmon includes Tuscan kale, roasted corn, chayote, tortilla strips and roasted poblano peppers tossed in a poblano-pepper vinaigrette. Outstanding.

Restaurant Week menus

I don't eat meat or poultry, but do eat seafood, and I managed to find a salad with heart-healthy fish to satisfy me at Rosa Mexicano.

But judging from the (201) Restaurant Week lunch menus I've seen so far, few concessions are made for vegetarians.

Before we chose guacamole as an appetizer, I asked the waiter if the Sopa de Tortilla, one of my favorite Mexican dishes, usually served fiery, could be prepared without grilled chicken.

He said it could, but warned the soup is made with chicken stock.

A word about ergonomics. We were shown to a booth, but the table was too high in relation to the bench seat. There are plenty of tables and chairs as an alternative.

Service was causal and unrushed, giving us plenty of time to catch up.

Our salads came with two side dishes, refried beans and rice with fresh herbs, evidence of the kitchen's generosity, which I recall from past meals at Rosa Mexicano and cooking demonstrations complete with free breakfasts.

Corn chips and freshly made salsa are complimentary, but I should have asked for small corn tortillas, which are made in the dining room and served warm, instead of the chips, which appeared to have been salted.

The restaurant is decorated with beautiful Mexican pottery, wall sconces and textiles.

The men's room is bigger and far cleaner than the one I encountered at The Oceanaire Seafood Room.

Rosa Mexicano, One Riverside Square (The Shops at Riverside), Hackensack Avenue and Route 4, Hackensack; 201-489-9100.

The 6th Annual (201) Restaurant Week promotion continues on Sunday and ends on Thursdays.

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