Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I promised my friend, Sasha, that as soon as I got a bit of extra cash I would take her out to a nice dinner to celebrate her choosing the best college major ever (a.k.a. English) and I wanted to take her to a really nice place that neither of us have previously experienced. I must have walked by Cacique on Market St. a thousand times and thought, "I should try that some day," so I used our special occasion as a great excuse to give it a go.
This little adventure actually turned out to be full of fun firsts. For one, I had never been to a restaurant that you might call "fancy" that primarily serves Mexican and Spanish food. We felt a little guilty dripping their delicious and bountiful salsa on their nice white tablecloths, but assumed they must have had at least some expectation of this possibility so we carried on. We really enjoyed this part of the meal because not only were the salsa and chips good, it gave us a chance to chat and soak in the well-decorated atmosphere.
The menu was particularly interesting not only because it was full of super-spiced up renditions of traditional Spanish and Mexican cuisine, but because it also took many items that you might think of as "American" food and added a foreign flare to them. For instance, I ordered a rack of pork ribs that they called "Yucatan Ribs," that came bathed not only in delicious BBQ sauce, but also several spices that I couldn't identify that added a unique twist that I've never encountered at another restaurant.
The presentation was spectacular. I could literally hear my food coming out of the kitchen as it was still sizzling in a cast-iron plate that I had to let cool for a moment before I could begin eating. When I did, the first thing I noticed was that the meat was so tender that it was falling off the bone at the slightest touch. All items on this portion of the menu come with a little platter for making your own soft tacos on the side. Ever have spicy BBQ ribs at the same time as a soft taco filled with fresh salsa and sour cream? I highly recommend it. If that is how they do ribs, I cannot wait to come back and try the steak.
But as with any truly great restaurant, Cacique is certainly good at introducing us to dishes that we may not normally even think about. Sasha ordered the roast duck. She didn't give me too many details other than to say it was cooked just right, which I'm told is hard to do with duck because it can become kind of chewy if you don't know what you are doing.
I normally try to avoid talking too much about price when I do restaurant reviews (Sasha says it's tacky) but I think it worthy to note that this is the place to go if you want a "classy" dining experience without breaking the bank. In addition to the nice table cloths, the waiting staff is well-dressed, there is an extensive wine list, and pleasant music playing quietly in the background. I've had special dinners in very similar settings for about three times what this delightful evening cost. In fact, it might be my new go-to restaurant for such occasions when I'm the one footing the bill. Only next time I will try the lovely outdoor seating on the bustling sidewalk of Market Street!
26 N. Market Street
Frederick, MD 21701