Saturday, April 4, 2009

Review: The Tortilla Press (Collingswood, NJ)

O, Collingswood, the town that is fighting hard to redeem South Jersey cuisine from its pizza-and-Wawa reputation. Though I haven't spent too much time in the town, word from some friends and family and dining a few times at Nunzio gave me hope that culinary hope sprang on Collings Avenue. Finding ourselves in the area on a Sunday afternoon, when the Pop Shop had an hour wait to be seated for (what I contend to be) unremarkable food, we opted for a 10-minute wait at the Tortilla Press down the street.

A look at the menu, and glances at the uncomfortable amount of prefab shredded cheese on our fellow diners' tables, dispelled any illusions that we were in for Mexican that was in any way authentic. So now that we knew we were dealing with "Mexican" food, we set our sights lower and hoped for the best.

On our table was a little placard, with a photo of the chef and a quote that stated, unequivocally, his belief in preparing fresh-squeezed orange juice. "If you're not going to do it yourself, you might as well not do it all," or something of that nature. Sure enough, when he wasn't pacing up and down the joint, the chef was standing by the Zumex orange juicer in the other room, fiddling with it, making adjustments, no doubt calibrating the machine to the height of its citrus juice-liberating abilities. Maybe he should have spent more time in the kitchen.

Because while what we had wasn't bad, it was certainly nothing to write home about. My crab and avocado quesadilla was OK; though the avocado was ripe, the crab had something of a fishy taste, the tortilla was not really toasted enough, and the melted prefab shredded cheese bound the whole affair together rather ungloriously. And for a place called the Tortilla Press, the tortillas did not appear to be made in-house (though I welcome clarification on this subject). What was that about doing things yourself? Especially when you named your restaurant after the implement that is supposed to make the items that form the base of the majority of your menu?

Tortilla Press on Urbanspoon
L's chicken wrap was encased in a spinach tortilla-wrap that was with complete certainty not made on any tortilla presses within a 5-mile radius. Nothing exceptional about what was inside it. The pork posole soup was tasty and the pork was in nice big tender chunks. However, I am under the impression that the star of a posole is hominy.  Mine had none.  Not even regular corn
Service was adequate, except for a mix-up about who exactly our waitress was when we first sat down and my lack of a napkin and utensils until I asked for some.

To sum things up in a very superficially clever way, this "Mexican" outpost is not going to have me making a run for the PA-NJ border again anytime soon. Though it was preferable to Cherry Hill Mall food-court dining or a grilled cheese sandwich that would be 90 minutes in the making, this Faux-Mex was as unsatisfying as it was uninspired. +0 points for New Jersey dining.


Anonymous said...

The tortilla chips are made fresh every day.

meandtheblueskies said...

I like the Tortilla Press. A standout for brunch is the Rancho Heuvos. And yes, it's not really "authentic" Mexican food, it sure is a step ahead of most of the alternatives in the area.

conkyfilms said...

Fine and dandy if you like it, but I'll Eat You will not waver from its anti-charlatan editorial viewpoint. With regards to the comment from Anonymous the Brave, I was referring to the tortillas themselves, not the chips.

Anonymous said...

The place had a lot better ambience when the guitarist played there. It made up for the mediocre food...