Sunday, March 20, 2005

Maria Manso World Cuisine

1613 Fourth Street San Rafael CA 94901 (415) 453-7877

I am not going to blow Maria Manso's trumpet. She does a pretty good job of blowing it herself. The ex-chef of the Clift hotel's Asia de Cuba restaurant has opened up her own place in Marin. The other day, when the weather was a glorious temperature somewhere in the 80s, we decided to try it out. We knew about the cute little wooden deck at the back of the restaurant, where the leafy trees dapple the light from the hot sun, creating a glorious setting for lunch on a balmy day.

A representative of Maria Manso World Cuisine in San Rafael has told me she does not want me to use the beautiful pictures I took of her food, so I have decided to remove them from this site

The Lunch Menu is brief, consisting mainly of sandwiches including peanut butter and jelly with a glass of milk.

The Cubano is touted as a traditional cuban sandwich, oven roasted pork, honey roasted ham, swiss cheese, dill pickles, mayo and mustard, hot pressed on a baguette $9. If this sandwich is truly traditional, then I implore, forget about tradition and make something that tastes good instead. Fred described the sandwich as "awful, awful, awful". Vinny didn't care for it much, either. Neither did I. Tasteless bread, bland fillings, flavourless cheese, barely any pickle, mustard with no spice and meat with no presence. Never again.

The Vegetarian Wrap is advertised as a soft spinach flour tortilla filled with grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, arugula and balsamic dressing $8. Although this was better executed and much tastier than the cubano, it was still quite plain and unastounding. The veggies were nicely done and fresh tasting. They were incredibly juicy, though, making the wrap messy to eat.

There was a choice of plantain or potato chips with each sandwich. The plantains (not pictured) were much tastier than the potato chips which appeared to be nothing more than an entire family-sized bag of Lays dumped on the side of each plate.

A $40+ bill is steep for three sandwich lunches without much appeal. We don't think we'll be going back, despite the lure of the lovely deck setting. Friends have told me dinner is much better. Maybe Chef Manso is more vested in the evening meals, there certainly didn't seem to be a culinary anyone around at lunch time.
Maria Manso World Cuisine

11 Comments:

  • At 22/3/05 22:36, Anonymous ced said…

    aren't you supposed to be in England now?

     
  • At 23/3/05 16:38, Blogger Jackson said…

    I can recommend about six places that serve a good "Torta Cubano." I warn you, though, the real thing involves something akin to scrapple and halved hot dogs as well as sliced ham. Picayudos on 24th makes a fantastic one, and a sandwich and fresh-squeezed juice would only be about ten bucks. No sun-dapple deck, though, that's for sure.

     
  • At 1/4/05 12:20, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have been to Maria Manso's twice for lunch and have had a marvelous time. On both occasions the chef herself was preparing our meal. We even had time to exchange recipes with Chef Maria. My favorite thing was the cream of tomate soup that comes with the grilled cheese.

     
  • At 30/8/06 16:59, Anonymous Loso1 said…

    Can't disagree with you more. The Cubano is wonderful everytime I have it.

     
  • At 30/8/06 17:03, Blogger Sam said…

    hopefully, then Loso1, it has improved since our disappointing visit, which was a couple of years ago now. Thank you for your input.

     
  • At 23/1/07 14:39, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As a former EMPLOYEE of Maria Manso (yes, that's right), I can tell you right now that everything you have to say about the restaurant is very true. There's nothing exotic or fresh about the ingredients that go into the dishes - it's all Safeway discount and sales items. The tortilla chips served at dinner are often recycled; by that I mean that when a table is done with their chips, the server will take the basket and refill it regardless of whether leftover chips were in there, then bring it out for the next table to be seated. There are so many things wrong with that place that I could elaborate on, but that's just being a bitter former employee.

     
  • At 21/2/07 11:05, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To respond to the bitter ex employee of Maria Manso World Cuisine I know for a fact and can prove that the restaurant uses excellent food purveyors such as; Golden Gate Meat Company, Marin Produce, Costarella Seafood in San Francisco and Pacific Gourmet just to name a few,
    This all can be verified with a simple phone call that I encourage anyone to make if they really think there is any truth to this insane accusation. Furthermore about the chips, this ignorant ex employee who believes a restaurant can run out of Safeway was reprimanded for trying to serve chips that had already been served and that is why this person is an EX and Bitter employee.

     
  • At 24/2/07 20:56, Anonymous Taylor said…

    too bad they're talking about the wrong ex-employee.... I happen to know that person, they left on their own terms.

     
  • At 20/10/07 22:46, Blogger Anonymous said…

    The chef's partner/restaurant manager is all smiles and amiability until you really need service. Then, she can easily become clipped, abrupt and rude. For instance, just try to claim an incorrect bill or ask for a substitution. (After witnessing her outbursts, it's easy to see why there are so many ex-employees!) On busy nights diners are hurriedly rushed out of the restaurant. The food can be excellent, but also uneven. San Rafael deserves better.

     
  • At 21/5/08 23:28, Blogger Anna Haight said…

    The Marin IJ ran a note that Maria Manso World Cuisine is closing effective May 24, 2008...

     
  • At 16/6/08 20:36, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, I am very sad that Maria Manso has closed. I thought the food was wonderful! Maria and Yo always made me feel at home and well attended to. We spend several very special evenings there including a wine maker dinner, a film festival party and other meals.
    I think Maria and Yo worked very hard as independent persons to create a unique late-dining experience in Marin, and I will miss them a lot.

     

Post a Comment

<< Home