One expects great things from the brain trust that brought us Pi Pizzeria, so I was rather looking forward to my visits to Gringo (398 North Euclid Avenue; 314-449-1212), the self-described Baja surf lodge now occupying the corner of Euclid and McPherson in the Central West End. Sure, it's a lot to expect for lightening to strike twice, and when the bar is set as high as a special request from the president for one's wares, it is nearly impossible to live up to the hype. Still, my hopes were high. After all, how hard can it be to deliver with gusto "authentic modern Mexican food with a twist"?
See also: - Pi Pizzeria Team Opening Gringo, a Taco Joint, in Central West End - First Look: Gringo Offers Taco Options Like Al Pastor, Octopus and Grasshopper in the Central West End [Photos] - Chris Sommers (Deep) Dishes on the Changes at Pi Pizzeria
Apparently, it's quite hard. While you can check out my full review here, suffice to say it failed to impress. Word has it the cool reception is not lost on the folks at Gringo. When I called to follow up on my visits, I was informed by the woman on the phone that they were in the process of redeveloping many items. ("Basically, we are redoing a lot of our menu.")
Particularly surprising was the fact that they are no longer preparing their meat sous vide, even though this was supposed to be what elevated them above the standard taqueria. According to the woman, they were not able to get the depth of flavor they were going after by using the sous vide method and decided to nix it. (I was relieved that this was the case, as I had been racking my brain for days trying to figure out how sous vide meat could be so dry. Obviously, this is all still a work in progress). A call to the manager for comment was unreturned.
It takes a good amount of humility to admit when something just isn't going right and an even greater amount of work to redevelop a menu. If this is where Gringo is at, then I must commend their flexibility and honest self-assessment. The talent and passion are certainly there, and the rent on that piece of prime Central West End real estate is far too expensive to turn Gringo into merely a place to go for margaritas.
To read my full impression of Gringo, check out the review and accompanying slideshow here.