Cactus Rose has been open for the better part of two years now and has settled in to become a comfortable neighborhood restaurant. While there is still a faint southwestern motif in their cooking and décor, they have dropped “Cantina” from their original name. The menu items have become a bit more predictable since our first visit, with some of the early elaborateness dropped for more standard entrees, although the “most interesting clams” served in Dos Equis remains. Most of the items we ordered on our first few visits have been replaced with simpler ones.
We visited last night (Wednesday) when the restaurant was not particularly busy, but the service is still rather haphazard. Once you have your food delivered you have a lot of trouble summoning any waiter to, for example, order a glass of wine with your entrée.
We were seated at a quiet table along the wall until they suddenly seated a 8-member birthday party family next to us when the noise level increased substantially. Usually, you seat the pairs of diners away from the noisy ones.
The food seems to have dropped to middlin’ since we last visited. The main menu has the more interesting items, while the specials menu seems to be the more standard fare: Ceviche, Soft Shell Crab, Pork Chop, Sea Bass, Steak and Chicken. There was no bread provided to the table, and the original salsa dip has been retired.
We ordered Tortilla Soup ($7) and Coconut Shrimp ($13) for appetizers. The soup was really just ordinary chicken soup with pieces of tortilla replacing the noodles and was nothing special. The coconut shrimp, on the other hand, were tough and dry and pretty much flavorless.
For our main courses we ordered Lobster Enchiladas ($29) and Baby Back Ribs ($23). The lobster enchiladas were actually very good, served with bell peppers, onions and jack cheese. The baby back ribs consisted of very tender pork but a sauce that seemed to be bottled. Neither entrée was served with any vegetable or other side or plate decoration, although the ribs were served on a bed of black and white beans. We also ordered some garlic mashed potatoes ($4), which came unadorned and were also flavored with a bit of rosemary which didn’t work very well.
The drinks menu at Cactus Rose includes a number of Margaritas and Mojitos at $10-$12, but standard cocktails are only $8.00. And our wine by the glass, De Lyeth Chardonnay was only $9.
There are about 9 entries on the dessert menu and we split the Chocolate Bomba ($9), which was very good and well presented.
Our bill for two with 3 drinks and tax was $127
Overall, Cactus Rose has settled into a neighborhood restaurant niche, with now more reasonable prices than when they first opened, but they really need to improve their service and work a bit harder on food consistency.