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.
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