Toren’s Resto Rants: El Santo

“A Rip off” – Mom

El Santo (Mexican Restaurant)

Their blurb:  Contemporary. Social. Fresh. A restaurant experience that’s uniquely New West. This is a place for you to unwind. … And most importantly, to leave satisfied and happy.

MENU

Address: 680 Columbia Street, New Westminster, BC
Open 11:30am – 10pm
Booths? Yes.
When I dined: 6:30pm on a Thursday
Noisy? Very
Candies with your bill? Tiny spicy marshmallows
Lives up to it’s name? El Santo translates to “The Saint.” So…no.

My dear old Ma floated in to town on a cruise with a bunch of old folks. Her submarine parked in New Westminster and she asked me to come out for dinner. I skytrained out and met her at her hotel, which has a Boathouse Restaurant attached. The Boathouse got crap reviews so I polled my facebook feed to see what other dining venue we might explore. The top two suggestions were Re-Up BBQ and El Santo. I was warned Re-Up was not a sit-down restaurant so Mom opted for El Santo.

Entering the restaurant, it looked nice. They had big green booths where I wanted to sit. They did not sit us there. They had smaller tables isolated from other patrons where I wanted to sit. They did not sit us there. They sat us next to a couple who were ignoring their churros.

The menus were a bit of a chore to get through, especially if you don’t know Spanish – with the additional confusion of having a bunch of French words mixed in. The menus come on a clipboard with three sheets. To get to page 2 and 3 of the menu I had to unclip them all and suddenly I now have to clean up the table. More tragically for me, as I don’t really drink, those pages were all booze. Oh, I should probably say that part of the recommendation from my friends were the drinks. So maybe those would have been great…if I had come to New West to get drunk with my mom.

There was a starters section on the menu AND a ‘shared plates’ section AND a “to share…or not to share” section. Without looking too closely Mom assumed the $26 pollo a la granada (chicken & corn bread) plate would be ok for two people, not a terrible unreasonable assumption since the word “share” was used on the menu, and it was more than 15 bucks. I suggested ordering something else and Mom said we can order more later if we’re still hungry. When the entree showed up it clearly was not suitable for two people. The food was all prepared well and tasty. But while we were waiting the 20+ minutes for our dish a trio of musicians set up and started playing. We couldn’t hear each other. If ordering more food meant waiting another 20 minutes without being able to carry on a conversation, we couldn’t wait to get out.

BUT I had already ordered dessert, which came promptly. The chocolate empanadas were outstanding. $8 but worth it. Also could have been a bit bigger but maybe that was because the entree was so meager. Tough luck for you if you want to try this dish, as I was warned they’d be off the menu by the time you read this.

The single person bathrooms were fine and welcomed as always, except I couldn’t tell if the door was locked when I was in there, as there did not seem to be any visible mechanism. Luckily since I was only there to wash my hands after touching every clammy metal bar on the skytrain, there was no chance of Jonny Rando busting in on me with my knickers down. The downside of the single person bathroom is that after you have to put your freshly washed hand onto the doorknob to escape. Did you know that according to some probably flawed data I found on the Daily Mail site, 62% of men don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom? I couldn’t even use a paper towel as a makeshift glove to open the door, since the method of hand drying there is the space-age air-blowing dealio.

The service was very pleasant and efficient. Water flowed freely. The food while expensive was good, but this dining experience just didn’t work for us. As we walked back to my Mom’s hotel we passed Re-Up BBQ, which was just about to close up. We could have had some $10 beef brisket and enjoyed the ample seating and quietness. Next time.

Biggest Rave: Besides the dessert… the paper napkins were stellar. Firm, sturdy, and pleasant to the touch. We got three and Mom pocketed two of them. True story.

Biggest Rant: I don’t mean to single out El Santo for this, but why when there are five tables in a row does the hostperson have to sit me next to the one table that is already occupied by a couple? I don’t want to hear their conversations, and I’m damn hell ass sure they don’t want to hear mine. Put me at least one table away so I don’t have to suffer from conversational overflow. Also…restaurants with live music – cut it out.

About Toren

Illustrator, comic artist, voice and screen actor, lead singer for The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, co-author Spaceship Zero roleplaying game.
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