I judge Mexican restaurants by their "Chicken en Mole" (pronounced moh-lay). Well... not exclusively. Let's just say a good Mole goes a long way towards earning my stamp of approval.
For some reason this is tough dish to prepare just right. (Or then again, I might just be too picky.) It could be too greasy. The chicken might be too dry and chewy. The mole sauce might be too spicy. Even worse - the mole sauce might be too sweet. Or there just isn't enough mole sauce! It is a dish that I would like to attempt cooking at home, but for now I enjoy ordering it.
Last night Scott and I went to the new El Rancho Grande restaurant in the Cascade Village Mall. We sat in the "cantina" where Paul Eddy, an acoustic guitarist & singer, was performing. He was playing older tunes from the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, and Tom Petty. All songs that I recognized from the first few chords, and had I been in the car with the kids would have been singing along. At one point he asked for requests; we asked to hear
...anything by Ben Harper
..."Treetop Flyer" by Steven Stills
..."Cotton Jenny" by Gordon Lightfoot
...and (of course) "House of the Rising Sun"
But he didn't know any of them. He also performed a couple of original songs, which were pretty good. Scott and I each had a Negra Modelo to drink, munched on chips and salsa, and enjoyed the music.
Then my Chicken en Mole appeared. It was served on a huge plate with rice and beans, and accompanied by a container of flour tortillas. The beans were covered with just enough shredded jack cheese. The rice had bits of red and green bell pepper. Everything was prepared exceptionally well... including my Chicken en Mole. The chicken was tender and surprisingly flavorful. The sauce had just the right combination of sweetness with a "kick". There was just a hint of chocolate flavor - but not overpowering.
We will be going back to El Rancho Grande. Scott also enjoyed his meal. The staff was attentive. The salsa that came with the chips was spicier than other restaurants - and very good. And - last but not least - the Chicken en Mole was outstanding. I would venture to say it's the best in Bend!