Saturday, July 10, 2010

Poco a Poco

Just opened on Hyde Park Square in Cincinnati, Poco a Poco definitely is something different for the neighborhood. It's a casual, limited menu Mexican eatery with the slogan "Eat a Little. Drink a Little. Live a Little." (Their website is still under construction so if you click on the link, you may not find much there yet.)
We dropped in for dinner on their second night of operation and had plenty of company.
There are a few special cocktails and an array of small plates, all within about $6 - $15, along with a short wine list.
We started with guacamole and chips -- tasty, although the guac could have had more kick, IMHO. My guava cooler was perfect with the salty tortilla chips; my husband had a bottle of Mexican beer.
We split three small plates after that: excellent shrimp and calamari seviche, grilled chicken skewers with an interesting, sweet sauce, and a Mexican corn stew called pozole. We also each had a glass of wine.
Somehow, this added up to $71 plus tip. (Not too surprising, I guess, given the way that drinks and glasses of wine add up!) It was satisfying, though, and as far as we could tell, the food was going over well at neighboring tables.
I predict it will be a hit, given how people love Mexican food and this is a worthy, non-ordinary version of the cuisine.


  1. My friend and I took a look at the menu and decided to go in after a stroll around the Square. I'm an interior designer and, at first glance, the place seems neat and well thought, but further inspection proves otherwise. Start to finish this experience was disappointing. The hostess stand needs to be moved first - it was right inside the door, which means if there is one person in front of you or you have a group larger than two people, then you're waiting in the vestibule, and God forbid there be a wait because there was nowhere to wait for a table other than the bar. The outdoor patio was completely lacking and forgotten as a space, sad, considering it's the first impression of the dining experience. When we first looked at the menu we saw fish tacos for $12 and drinks for $8, pretty standard pricing for the area, but nowhere does it say "tapas style portions." So we go in expecting an entire meal for reasonable prices. We ordered the salsa and guacamole appetizer with house made chips. The guac was very standard, nothing interesting added and the salsa was not right, it tasted more like a marinara, and the chips were good but over seasoned, especially our second basket which was completely inedible. We didn't order drinks because we stopped in around 5 to make a show at 7:30. I had the fish tacos and my friend had the beef taquitos. When the dishes came out we both looked at each other like "really?" because there were two tacos on my plate and two taquitos on his. So for chips and guac, and two small plates, it was $35, completely ridiculous. Here's the thing, fish tacos and taquitos does not scream gourmet latin food, it screams standard and inexpensive. The flavors with the two main dishes were spot on, but priced twice as much as they should have been. This restaurant is trying to be something it is not. So here's what I would suggest to the owners if they wanted to stay alive more than one year - move your host stand, think about your patio area (ESPECIALLY when you open a restaurant in the summer!!), make your servers wear nice white blouses rather than hot pink $5 t-shirts, print your menu on something more substantial than a thick piece of paper (the menus were warped already from use and water damage - which adds to the cheap and overpriced factor), get rid of those awful hand painted lights, change the green tea green (to something like beige or brown or a more vibrant shade) because it screams japanese rather than latin, and above all - get over yourselves and change your prices to at least 2/3 the current rate. Look at Burgundy Room in Columbus, OH for a successful tapas style restaurant and PRICING, make sure to notice special ingredients like pate, foie gras, and olive tapenade that make these dishes worth while and they may be tapas, but they have more generous portions than poco. All in all, I wouldn't suggest this restaurant as it stands unless you really want to pay a lot of money to get very little out of the dining experience.

  2. I hear you. The pricing was a problem for us, too. We did not consider sitting on the patio due to the heat factor, so I missed any of that. Your expertise about decor would be of value to them, perhaps, but I don't know whether anyone from the resto will read this. If their website goes live anytime soon, I'll send them a link. Thanks a bunch for your comments.

  3. Went last night. This place will not last.