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Monday, January 9, 2017

Avocado Mexican Bar and Grille

1857 Lower Muscatine Rd., Sycamore Mall Parking Lot, SE Iowa City

We tried out this new restaurant which is in the building Okoboji Grill used to be in. The 1st thing I noticed was that it's Mexican and using the "e" on the end of the word Grill, which doesn't seem like a very Mexican-y thing to do.

The atmosphere is basically the same as Okoboji Grill was, not a lot has changed inside. Except when we went to Okoboji Grill without a kid, we always got seated at the bar area, and when we went with a kid they always sat us away from the bar area, where we noticed other families with kids were seated. Avocado doesn't seem to segregate families vs. non families in this way.

It took us awhile to choose what to order. In my defense, it was my 1st time there and they give you a novel of a menu to peruse. Our server asked us several times if we were ready to order and we kept saying "nope". Then another server stopped by and recommend the fajitas and said "they the BOMB for real". 

I had a question about an item on the menu, which I asked our server. The question was about a word on the menu that the empanadas came with. The server basically said she didn't know what that was, and then guessed that it might be grilled veggies. That sounded good to me, so I ordered it. When the empanadas then came with just ground beef in them, I wondered if our server had previously worked at Best Buy. Because, you see, when you ask someone at Best Buy a question they don't know the answer to, they just make up an answer on the spot. And it's usually wrong. I'm saying this because it has happened to us on several occasions. If you walk into a Best Buy with more IT knowledge than the sales clerk, you can entertain yourself for hours.

Anyway, while I wasn't too pleased with our server, the empanadas were quite good. If anyone from Avocado reads this, though- I think they would be even better with grilled veggies. My husband got the enchiladas which were average, except for the one filled with liquid cheese. Real melted cheese would have been much better. And our elementary-aged son loved his kids' burrito, he loved the server, and he loved the bowl of ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate syrup he got as a bonus after his meal! He even took a photo of it before eating it.
He walked out of there declaring Avocado one of his 3 favorite restaurants (Fair Grounds and Jimmy Jack's being the other two).

The bill came to $27 with the tip, and the server brought a bonus ice cream for my husband and I for no charge. And with the free chips and salsa we had before the meal, we waddled out of there quite stuffed.

Next time (and my son INSISTS on there being a next time)- we'll get the "Guacamole at the table" where they bring a portable table and mortar-n-pestle real avocados into an amazing looking guacamole in front of you.

In conclusion, you get pretty darn full for a good price, it's very kid-friendly, and the servers might make stuff up but they're generally friendly. Also they have random things for sale by the door.

Cake #21: Devil's Food Cake with Quick Fudge Icing and Raspberry Jam

I skipped ahead in the book to make this cake, because it was January 8 which happens to be both my grandpa's birthday as well as Elvis' birthday. Any excuse to make a cake...

I chose this one because I had some leftover raspberry-rhubarb jam in the fridge that I wanted to use up and I thought this would be the perfect way to use it. Turns out I was wrong, but the taste was good!

The cake is a good one, and not too difficult to make. The odd thing about it is that it calls for a mixture of "strong coffee" with unsweetened cocoa. As usually happens on Sunday mornings, we drank all the coffee in the pot so I used instant Folgers coffee instead, which I think was fine. I mixed butter (the recipe calls for shortening and I always assume butter will work fine) with sugar (I used raw/unrefined because it didn't say not to). Then I added 1/2 of the "dry ingredients" mix of cake flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder, then all of the coffee/cocoa mixture and then the other 1/2 of the "dry ingredients" and let the kitchen aid work its magic for awhile. That's it! See, the cake is pretty easy.

The frosting, however....

I mixed semi sweet chocolate chips with a 1/2 can of evaporated milk and melted it in a make-shift double broiler. We usually use chopstick holders for this but since my mom visited I can't seem to find where the chopstick holders disappeared to. (She has a method of putting things she thinks we use and things she thinks we don't use much in very different places and we get to play a fun "Where's Waldo" type of game for several weeks after each visit.) So I used some small sauce plates which sort of worked. Anyway, the chocolate melted even though I didn't stand there stirring constantly as the book instructed me to. Then I added powdered sugar to the melted chocolate slowly and let the kitchen aid mix it for quite awhile.

Finally, the cakes were baked and cooled and the frosting was room temp, so I did the layer-method as suggested, putting a layer of frosting on the bottom cake, then spreading the jam on top, then the 2nd cake on that, then frosting, jam, and more frosting.

Turns out the jam acts as a sort of lube and the frosting was quite runny and so, the cakes slid all over the place. They looked like crap but they tasted good!

Next time, I would use a frosting that is less runny (more of the store-bought consistency), I would use a store-bought jam rather than a runny homemade kind, and my husband suggests never, ever, cutting a layered cake in half like it's a pizza. Now knowing it might slide all over the place, I'm more inclined to cut wedges out to keep the thing together.

Although, after eating this one, I'd say really you could skip the layering part all together since 1 piece of layered cake is really like eating 2 pieces of cake and when it's rich like this, you might be better off eating just one piece. The frosting is still way too runny though.