Sunday, October 30, 2011

…Las Velas con Burgh Gourmand

I know what I like.

I have been raving about Las Velas for months, since my first visit before the reopening as a guest with my brother, to my second visit for dinner with my brother, through this first quarter of the school year.  I have worn my Las Velas t-shirt to school (and had to correct many people who thought it said “Las Vegas”.  Ay de mí…)  I bought a CBS Local Offer AND a Groupon to ensure that I get back there soon (and save some money).  I even had a Twitter follower, Susan Lee, DONATE a CBS Local Offer to my classes so that one of my own students could experience this restaurant that I love so, so much.

I guess my love for Las Velas shines through with effect, because after our experience at Smoke Taqueria, Burgh Gourmand suggested that we go to Las Velas, since he had never been there, and I talked it up so much.

No hesitation here.  I accepted the invitation.

Photo courtesy of Burgh Gourmand: View of the inside of Las Velas (taken from his perspective, near the windows)
 We arrived and were seated by the windows, which reveal a gorgeous view of Market Square.  It was chilly and gray outside, with a chance of heavier rain, but regardless, people were still socializing and milling about.  The ice skating rink was in the beginning stages of being built a block away, and the barriers for it could be seen in the distance.

Our waiter asked if we wanted chips and salsa, and of course we said yes, but I made sure to add, “And guacamole, too, please!”

I love the guac.

Chips, guacamole, salsa roja

Burgh Gourmand commented on the guac as well, saying that it was “so creamy” (sometimes guacamole is a little chunky when the avocados aren’t mashed too well).  I know that it still gets my vote for “Best Guac”, despite trying it in other restaurants now, too.

Burgh had this to add later:
I did blur Burgh Gourmand's real name to protect the innocent - I promise, though, this was from him!
Although I am partial to the guac, I made sure to have my chips with some salsa, since A.) salsa is fat-free, and guacamole is not, and B.) I love the way the salsa tastes, since it is made with fresh cilantro, and C.) It is not super-chunky, but not super-runny, either.

Burgh Gourmand and I had a hard time deciding upon our main dishes – I wanted to try something off of their “Traditional Mexican” menu, since I hadn’t yet, and I keep touting authenticity.  Back when I started doing this, the owner’s wife, Ginny, replied to my email about my blog with a list of items on the menu that are authentic – and anything on that part is (in addition to others).

I decided to go with “Pollo al cilantro” – basically, you choose your meat and sauce, so I chose chicken with a cilantro sauce (I had to go cilantro!).  Burgh originally decided upon “Mar Y Tierra” (Surf ‘N Turf, to put it simply), but at the last minute changed his mind to the “Pollo en Mole Poblano”, which was my choice on my last visit.

Who doesn’t love a good mole?!

Pollo al cilantro - no leftovers this time (guess I'll have to come back for more...)

Photo courtesy of Burgh Gourmand: Pollo en mole poblano
Neither one of us regretted our choices.  Burgh’s mole exceeded his expectations – I told him that I wouldn’t steer him wrong, and I live up to my promises.  My “Pollo al Cilantro” was what I was hoping for – a delicious, but not overpowering cilantro-flavored sauce encasing shredded chicken, which served as a great filler for my handmade tortillas and veggies.  The sauce was a little salty, but not enough for me to not savor every bite of my meal.

In addition to comida muy rica, the trip to Las Velas included a spectacular view of Market Square, capped off with witnessing a torrential downpour (and pedestrians scattering to avoid it) and helicopters flying dangerously close to skyscrapers around Market Square due to the filming of the Tom Cruise film “One Shot”. 

Even better?  Great conversation with Burgh Gourmand.  It’s nice to converse with someone that A.) has common interests, B.) has intelligence, and C.) can tell you things you never knew before.  If you ever get the opportunity to dine with him – do it.

At the end of my last post about Las Velas, I said:

“I left so, so full, and so, so happy.”  - I did this time, too.

“I will be back, Las Velas.” – Obviously, I came back.  Duh.

“I will try something different next time, although I was completely smitten with the meal that I had chosen.” – Totally tried something new (although Burgh did let me sample his mole poblano!  I couldn’t resist!)

“I will bring friends.” – Done.

“I will encourage others to patronize you, even if I am not with them.” – I do through my blog, Facebook page, Twitter.  I wear my Las Velas shirt to school on Casual Friday when I can.  Not to mention my contest where a student won $30 to spend at your restaurant!

Further proof that I live up to my promises.

Las Velas
21 Market Square
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Twitter: @lasvelas

Las Velas on Urbanspoon

Burgh Gourmand

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