March 4, 2012

Birthday Celebrations @ Grand Electric

There had been so much hype about Grand Electric that I was surprised it took me so long to check this place out. Finally, for a double birthday celebration, we ventured to Parkdale to finally taste some much lauded tacos! We weren't too sure about the potential line up on a Wednesday, so Mel and I actually arrived an hour earlier and camped out at a cafe (The Mascot) across the street. Around 5:30, a queue started forming, so we dashed across the street and joined the line. When the restaurant opened at 6, we were able to snatch one of the two large tables for our party of 7.
Between the 7 of us, we were able to order everything on the menu, except for the ensalada electrico (because none of us were too interested in a salad that day). We each ordered our choice of tacos and shared everything else. I apologize in advance for the poor quality of the photos- the restaurant was extremely dim.
Mel started with a Grand Electric Sour, which was recommended by our waitress. I took a sip and thought it was disgusting at first. However, after a few more sips, the drink grew on me, but I must say I'm still not a big fan of this kind of cocktail that contains egg white.
While studying the menu, we ordered a guacamole and chips ($8) to snack on. This was fabulous, and probably one of my favourite items in the evening! The chips were super fresh, and the chicharrón in the middle of the guacamole was incredibly light yet crunchy at the same time. It was an immediate hit at the table.
The plate of chips disappeared very quickly. Jeremy wanted to order a second one, but we all wanted to try other items.
Next, we were bombarded by a series of sharing plates. My least favourite was probably the chipotle shrimp ($8.50), but that was purely due to personal preference. I'm not a big fan of raw shrimp, and I much prefer them to be cooked. All in all, I didn't enjoy the slimy texture.
In contrast, the tuna ceviche ($7.50) fared much better in my books. Jeremy commented that it tasted like tuna sashimi, and I thought the flavours were bright and refreshing.
I can't comment too much on the chicken fritto ($12) because I only had a bite of it. There weren't enough pieces to go around for all 7 of us, but the general sentiment was that people enjoyed it. The chicken was topped with a mountain of cilantro, which could almost be a salad itself.
I did, however, managed to devour multiple pieces of the spicy squid ($9), which was another of my favourite dish of the night. I loved the sweet and tangy sauce that coated the squid, and it was well-complemented by green onions, cilantro, and avocado chunks. Of course, it wasn't spicy enough for me, but a squeeze of hot sauce easily fixed that issue.
We also shared a large pozole rojo, a hearty pork and tripe soup accompanied with more of those delicious chips. There was a great deal of meat in the soup, making it more like a stew. My friends commented that it tasted like Korean pork bone soup. For me personally, there was too much meat in the soup, although the flavours were rich and bold. I also didn't think that the chips paired well with the soup, and I would've preferred to have some bread instead.
The tacos were a little hard to share, but I did manage to try all of the 5 options available that night between my boyfriend and myself. I was pretty excited to dig into the Baja fish, which was quite tasty. The fish was moist and fried nicely, but overall, I think I prefer the fish taco from La Carnita.
Next, the pork belly al pastor was one of my favourite tacos of the bunch. I particularly loved the contrast between the rich and fatty pork belly and the sweetness of the pineapple! It packed a mouthful of flavour and just kept luring me back for more bites!
Along with the pork belly, the beef cheek was my other favourite taco! The beef was juicy and incredibly flavourful, and the overall combination of all the toppings (green onions, jalapeños, cilantro and avocado) was very satisfying. The jalapeños gave a kick of heat, but the taco, as whole, wasn't very spicy. More hot sauce please!
The last two tacos to arrive were fried queso & poblano and spicy arbol chicken. Personally, I quite enjoyed the fried queso & poblano. The cheese was appropriately mild and didn't overpower the sautéed poblano peppers, which was very tasty. Jeremy didn't like this one at all, so I had the whole thing to myself. On the other hand, the spicy arbol chicken, for me, was not very memorable, and certainly not very spicy. That was probably my least favourite taco of the night. Even though all the tacos were individually delicious, the flavours definitely got mingled in my memory after sampling 5 of them in quick succession. Next time, I'll probably just order 2-3 varieties and eat the entirety, so I can enjoy each one fully.
We ordered mini desserts to end the meal! There were two options- key lime and chocolate & pecan. Naturally, I tried both. My favourite one was, hands down, the mini key lime pudding, which consisted of a layer of graham cracker crust, key lime filling, and topped with whipped cream. I loved the tangy filling and I loved the graham cracker crust even more! Seriously, I dug deep into the mason jar to get as much as the graham cracker crust as possible with every bite. In comparison, the chocolate & pecan pudding was rather disappointing. Even though the portion was small, the pudding resembled fudge, and was much too rich and heavy. I thought the chocolate actually wasn't sweet enough (but Mona disputed that it was too sweet for her). All in all, the key lime was a hit, but most of us did not enjoy the chocolate & pecan.
It was a satisfying meal for most of us. I had lots of fun chatting and laughing in the lively atmosphere. However, after this meal, I realized that inherently, Mexican food is not one of my favourite genres. Certainly, I enjoyed some of the food quite a lot (guacamole & chips, spicy squid, beef cheek and pork belly taco were highlights for me), but it didn't excite me to the same level that a place like Guu did. I wouldn't rush to come back any time soon, given its location and no-reservation policy. In contrast, I would be very willing to wait an hour for a seat at Guu. But of course, this is simply my personal preference, and I can certainly understand the hype around Grand Electric. Nevertheless, I had a great experience here, and I'm really glad I finally tried the food.
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  1. It's in my 'hood but the no reservation policy and line-ups have kept me away.

    1. I guess you can go try it out once the hype dies down more!

  2. Ya, it's not AWESOME but it's a good place to chill and try out (once they stop having such long line ups).



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