This week, I visit La Cantina (35 North Gore Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-968-3256), the new tapas-esque Mexican restaurant from Robert Trevino, owner of the popular Amigos Cantina (120 West Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood; 314-821-0877). Page through for a sneak preview of my review.
Your first thought concerning the "Chiles Dulces" at La Cantina might be, "Hey! Where's the cream cheese?" These jalapeños -- roasted and then beer-battered and flash-fried -- do look like deflated poppers. But without all that molten, insipid cheese, you can actually enjoy the crisp batter, and you can actually taste the jalapeños. The roasting, combined with the dusting of powdered sugar atop the finished product, imparts a gentle sweetness to temper, if slightly, the chiles' heat. A bowl of melted, spiced Monterey jack cheese accompanies the jalapeños, so you can approximate the popper experience if that's your thing.
With cheese or without, the "Chiles Dulces" make for a fun bar snack, the sort of dish that pairs well with an ice-cold Mexican beer or the restaurant's house margarita, made with Sauza tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime juice. They are also the sort of dish that might help distinguish this two-month-old spot in the Old Webster section of Webster Groves.
Visit Gut Check tomorrow morning to read my entire review and see Jennifer Silverberg's slideshow of La Cantina.