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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rollie's Mexican and Bolivian Cafe and Bakery -Tustin

Rollie's Mexican and Bolivian Cafe and Bakery
14071 Newport Avenue
Tustin, CA 92780-5172
(714) 669-8300

I really wanted to like this place. I really, really did. The woman behind the counter was so nice and friendly. We chatted about the food she made and the ingredients and love that she put into it. She proudly told me that she hand makes all the corn tortillas for their large tacos. She said that they order the finest chorizo from a specialty company up in Los Angeles. She spoke about her food with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye. Therefore, I really, really wanted to like this place....but.....well......I just didn't.

I ordered two of their large tacos with the fresh homemade tortillas ($2.50 each). I ordered one with carne asada and one with chorizo. I asked if the chorizo was served with egg or potato and she told me that it came with potato. I tried to order it without potato, but she told me that it was a very small amount of potato and it really enhanced the flavor of the chorizo. I agreed to try it with the potato. I also ordered three of their small "street tacos" ($1.00 each). I got two of them with carne asada and one with lengua (beef tongue). I ordered V a carne asada burrito ($5.99). I also decided to try one of their Salteña empanadas ($2.50) because I had heard good things about them.

While I was waiting for the food to be prepared, I walked over and browsed through the bakery cases that were full of Mexicam sweet bread. I asked if the breads were baked fresh that day and she told me that they had. I chose an elotito ($0.65), which is a cinnamon-flavored sweet bread that is shaped like a small ear of corn.

I got my food to go and took it home. When I arrived at home I eagerly unwrapped all the food. I couldn't wait to try all this delicious food that the nice lady behind the counter was bragging about.

First I decided to try the Salteña Empanada. I sliced it in half and V and I each took a piece. The filling consisted of ground beef, egg and peas. The filling was sweet...a little too sweet for me and V. Neither one of us really enjoyed the flavor of the empanada, so we didn't eat it.

I unwrapped my large tacos and immediately saw that the "chorizo" taco was really just a cubed potato taco with chorizo grease. I was very annoyed by this. The woman behind the counter had sworn that there was only a small amount of potato in the taco. All I saw was potato. I took a couple bites of this overly-greasy potato taco and then threw the rest away. A taco has to be pretty bad for me to throw it away. I then tried the carne asada taco. One thing I found interesting about the tacos here was that instead of being served with the traditional toppings of fresh cilantro and onion, they were topped with cilantro, grilled onions and grilled bell peppers. I was not a fan of this. The salsa was also tomato based and seemed like something you would eat with chips at a cheap Americanized Mexican restaurant. I didn't like the carne asada taco either, but I forced it down.

The street tacos were small, but probably worth the dollar I paid for them. The carne asada and the lengua tasted pretty much the same. It was basically just meat, covered in salt and cooked on a flat-top grill. I ate the lengua taco and then took the meat from the carne asada tacos, seasoned it up and threw it into a flour tortilla with some cheese and made a quesadilla. I ate it with some Del Taco hot sauce and it was the best part of my meal.

V said that her burrito was basically just a bean burrito. She couldn't really find any carne asada in her burrito. When she finally came across a piece, she ate it and said that it just tasted like salt.

V moved on to the elotito pan dulce that I bought for her. Keep in mind that the lady working at Rollie's said that the bread was baked fresh that day. This pan dulce was SO stale that it was as hard as a rock. V tried to bite through it a couple of times but was unable to get her teeth through it. Needless to say, she threw it away.

Overall, this restaurant might be ok if you are looking to grab some quick $1 street tacos and you don't really care what they taste like. You are much better off going to Alberto's or The Original Taco Factory which are 1-block away in either direction. I might return to this place one day to try their Bolivian food, but I will not be returning for more Mexican food.

Rollie's Bakery & Mexican Cafe on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

We love this place and I feel like you are kind of dragging a good place through the mud because it didn't appeal to your particular pallette. In this economy, it is wrong for you to bad mouth a small business. We all know we need to help one another out. Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

You want to try something from the Bolivian menu? YOU DID. The saltena. And its delicious. Stick to "selling oc" and not your shitty opinions about food.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the review. Yes, in this economy, it's great to have reviews like these so that you don't end up spending your hard earned money on crappy food! Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

People, if you don't like this person's reviews, you don't have to read them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion! Just because someone doesn't like the same bad food you like, doesn't mean to have to be nasty to them.

Griffin said...

Anonymous 1 & 2-The great thing about living in a free society is that I don't have to agree with your opinion and you don't have to agree with mine. I do, of course, agree with anonymous 3 & 4. This is a bad economy. All the more reason to make informed decisions about where you spend your hard-earned money. I spent more than an hour's worth of wages for dinner at this restaurant and I really didn't like the food. I appreciate reviews of restaurants, both good and bad, to help me determine where to spend my money that I currently earn so little of. Like Anon-4 said, there is no reason to be nasty. Let's all act like adults here. I'm sure Anon 1 and 2 would hate some places that I love. It doesn't mean I'm going to curse them out or shame them though. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This article just happens to reflect mine.

ChristianZ said...

The truth might lie somewhere in the middle. We don't always know if we went to a restaurant on the day where things just didn't turn out so great. Maybe the next day things would be back to normal and better again. So no matter how many items we try in one visit I don't know if we can always judge a restaurant accurately based on just one visit, especially a mom and pop place that doesn't have the same precision focus on consistency that places like McDonald's and Taco Bell do.

I also think that if a bad review is written about a place and then people from that restaurant read the review and correct the errors then the public might not know the error has been addressed and might think the bad review is still accurate.

The best course of action might be to take the complaints right to the restaurant itself. If they don't then address the complaints that might be the time to then air the complaints to the public.

finky the kid said...

Anony 1&2,
Whether Griff liked the food or not, he's still being objective about what he ordered. He's not saying "I got this and it was bad" Yes, he's saying it wasn't to his liking, but he's giving specific reasons why. Those same specific details may end up being the same thing that someone else sees as "good". The point is he's giving objective data about the food as well as his commentary so that readers can make an informed decision. He can like or not like a large taco all he wants, but when he's told it'll be mostly chorizo and little potato and then it comes out nearly all potato, that's what intelligent readers make decisions off of. Whether Griffin liked it is immaterial unless you know you have a very similar palatte as he does. Getting overly defensive with negative remarks still doesn't make what he described sound any better. Besides, "in this economy", should we all get what we pay for?

Griffin said...

Christian-While I do believe that it is probably best to try a restaurant numerous times before passing final judgment, my budget just simply doesn't allow this. I don't have a newspaper or magazine paying for my meals. If I go to a restaurant and have a bad meal, I will usually avoid the restaurant for fear of wasting my money again. Also, while I do agree that a restaurant could be having an "off night," I also think that successful restaurants, big and small, are consistently good. It's not like I ordered one thing and didn't like it either, I didn't like anything I ate there. Finally, I didn't say that there was anything "wrong" with the food. It just wasn't to my liking. I'm sure other people would love their food, it just wasn't for me.

Finky-Thanks for the support!

ChristianZ said...

I just try to tone down all negativity. My general approach is to give a place either a good or a glowing review. My tactic for dealing with restaurants I don't like is to generally just not mention them.

Elmo kinda liked Rollie's:

Rollie's Tustin on Monster Munching

Griffin said...

Christian-I feel it is important to share all my opinions, good or bad. Firstly, I think it is important to be completely honest with my readers. If I only focus on the good, I don't think I come off as objective. Secondly, if I share all of my good and bad opinions, it helps regular readers to determine whether they usually agree or disagree with my reviews. This way, if a new review comes out and I hate a place, and the reader knows they usually disagree with me, then they may want to actually try the place.

I know that elmo liked Rollie's. His article was the main reason I went there.

Lastly, I want to say one last thing. One thing I absolutely can't stand is when a restaurant lies to me. Don't tell me that a taco has barely any potato just to get me to give you my money, and then serve me a taco that is all potato. Don't tell me that the bread was baked fresh that day and then give me a pastry that is clearly at least three days old. Be honest with me. If you're honest, there is less of a chance that I will order something that I don't like. Most people are struggling with money today and the last thing they want to do is end up wasting money on something they don't consume because a restaurant lied to them to make an extra buck.

ChristianZ said...

If I ever go again I will tell them that people think they are being lied to. I have told restaurant owners complaints that people have aired about them on the Internet. They need to have some chance to address it.

finky the kid said...

Christian, I agree with your general sentiment.It's hard for someone to "fix" something if they aren't aware it's "broken". But, in the restaurant biz, like many other things in life, sometimes you only get one chance to make a first impression. As Griffin pointed out, he ordered a handful of things and none of them came out as expected. The chorizo to potato ratio may be a subjective preference to the person eating it, but being told one thing and then getting another is not. If you order a rib eye steak and they bring you a filet, it's not "the same thing" - even if you like filet and they cooked it "right" (whatever that means to you)- it doesn't change the fact that it was a bait and switch, even if unintentional.
The super hard pastries is another objective example. Whether you like the taste of them is irrelevant - I know of no culture where pastries are supposed to be rocks. That's just objectively bad and any place selling/serving pastries should know this without ever needing to be told by an unsatisfied customer. They have to handle the food in order to put it out and again to select it for a customer. There's really no excuse for selling something like that "unaware."

Now, all that said, would it be interesting to see if Griffin has a different experience if he went back in a month- just for kicks? Maybe (mostly for his consistent readers). But, where's his incentive to do so? Besides, there are so many other restaurants.....


ChristianZ said...

Note to everyone: I don't think that nothing negative should ever ever be said about a restaurant. I do think the restaurant should be the first place approached with a complaint though. We're humans and we don't always get things perfect. I also think that sometimes negative comments left on a website will fester long past their usefulness date and influence potential customers even if the restaurant has adequately addressed the complaint. I have seen solid, concrete examples of this before and have seen restaurant owners, who themselves are dealing with a poor economy, have people decide not to patronize them based on outdated complaints made online several years earlier.

I'm not saying: "Pretend everything is positive when it isn't." I am saying: "Have a more well-rounded, nuanced view that takes everyone into account and that doesn't punish or degrade anyone beyond what is rationally necessary."

I never even said Griffin can't say what he wants to say. I did throw out other options for dealing with a less-than-ideal situation. I don't have any desire to make people eat somewhere they don't want to eat at and if they decide one negative review of a place will keep them from going there then they are free to make that decision. But logic would suggest that they should also take into account that other people have given the same place positive reviews. But if a reader wants to cling to the negative and tune out the positive then that is fine. It just seems to me that such an attitude stems from taking guilty pleasure in steering towards the negative.

ChristianZ said...

None of what I have said changes that I think it was unfortunate that Griffin had the experience he did. I really wish it had been different for him and i don't think the answer is for him to pretend that his experience was something other than it was. I do know his experience doesn't match my experience going there a couple times several years back.

Griffin said...

One other thing I'd like to point out. I would NEVER expect anyone to make any dining decision on my reviews alone. I know that I never make a decision from one review. If I am thinking of dining at a new place, I will usually check yelp and a variety of other sources. I fully expect that my reviews are just one of the many that people look at when trying to make a decision about dining somewhere.

Anonymous said...

We always review because don't like if you notice I was behind you, I just recognize you, but I wait for your review,and I ask almost the same food saltenas, tacos take home and guest what is not what you describe is excellent food,I understand everyone is entitled to their opinion my is different and also my friends, I believe you need learned more about food....Shame on you

Anonymous said...

Griff.... I'm really disappointed for your review I always expected will be professional, but now reading your input, tells me you don't know about food....Shame on you I believe you need to mature and be realistic.

Unknown said...

I'm not surprised by your review. My first (and only) visit there was HORRIBLE! I'm surprised you gave them two stars on Yelp. If there was a "no star" option, that's what they would have gotten from me.