Bien Trucha in Geneva IL

We tried to eat here last year, but the line was out the door. This time we arrived well before 5 o’clock opening on a weekday and sat outside in the crazily-warm November breeze in the al-fresco area watching traffic go by. A woman came out to light our votive candles on the table; sorry we were not able to order a drink. Presently a gentleman came out and asked if we had reservations, we did not. He explained there was the “fancy” dining room with more large-plate selections, and the main room with small plates – he would try to get us into the dining room.

Come 5 PM we were escorted by the same gentleman (who as it turns out was an assistant manager) into the small room — he was not able to get us into the main room. Bummer, On the way in he described briefly the history of the space. We sat at a nice table for two at the window – good to be early. A busboy brought wonderful chips and a black bean dip with a subtle spice — nice change from the usual salsa. I ordered a guacamole-of-the-day with pomegranate pips – one of the best guacs I have had. I will say again, chips were excellent.

The server Jessica introduced herself and her trainee at her hip, and pointed at the wall full of different tequilas. I ordered a Tradicional margarita, she asked if I wanted to try an “upgrade” tequila and described the differences. I stuck with the stock version. My wife had a Coladita, pineapple juice and coconut liquor. Both were good; the margarita was not great, and for $10 seemed small. I have trouble identifying good tequila, so it may be better than I can tell.

The server described the dishes available. I chose the Bien Trucha tacos, with grilled skirt steak & chorizo. Wonderful. My wife had the a la Diabla with sauteed shrimp and a butter-mojo de ajo. The tacos came 4 to a plate, sized to be easy to eat. We traded a taco (food is very shareable) and we both liked the other’s dish.

For our dinner drinks, I had a Michelada with Negra Modelo Dark and various flavorings in a salted glass, as I had discovered in Cancun, and it was as good as I remember – reminiscent of a Bloody Mary with a Mexican twist. My wife had the Chelada which was basically Negra Modelo Dark in a salted glass with lime. She preferred the Michelada. I forgot how good they are, especially in summer.

Summary: wonderful meal and drinks, fun, loud atmosphere, impeccable casual service. I would not hesitate to return, perhaps with a reservation to try the larger-plate dining room.  They also have a lunch time “LIL DONKEYS” menu that really looks good. Recommended.

Also reviewed on Yelp

Google Nexus 6P

I finally decided my old Google Galaxy Nexus was done. I couldn’t use the phone in the house, it was having random meltdowns where apps would kill the battery in 4 hours, and was getting text messages duplicated inbound and outbound. Surfing was a slow nightmare. I just could not trust it as I could when it was new, and could not use it reliably for texting. I don’t text a lot, but I do need it to work.

So after reading a gob of reviews, I decided to go Google Nexus 6P, the new Huawei Nexus version in the phone form factor. I ordered the 64Gb version, and the Speck case in black and white. It quickly arrived.

Phone? More like a surfboard. Large, about halfway between the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 Tablet. Fits into my hand, barely. Gorgeous display. I downloaded a selection of apps, redid the 2-factor setups on several accounts, restored a backup using Helium (was Carbon). Called Consumer Cellular (AT&T MVNO) to transfer the number – had to go to local Sears first to get the Nano-SIM, my existing Micro-SIM did not fit. After a bit I had to order cables – it uses the new Type-C USB format, and I needed USB to USB Type-C for connection to a laptop and car charger. Love the format, hate having to buy new cables, but now I won’t ever again.

It calls and texts in the basement in my pocket. Old phone did not. I spilled coffee on it today. The Speck case seals around the edge, and a ArmorSuit Military Grade screen protector prevented anything from touching the screen. I have dropped it several times, no problem. I did get the insurance.

Pros

  • Fast charge, good battery life. Phone used for 10 mins/day, some surfing, mostly WiFi.
  • Great display.
  • Fingerprint unlock is the best. Grab, unlock, go. I would never go back.
  • Android 6 Marshmallow works and looks great for fans of stock Android. No crapware.
  • Unlocked and compatible with Verizon AND AT&T. Can’t wait to try in Canada or Europe.

Cons

  • Big, sometimes gets away from you. If have small hands, it won’t be an easy one-hander. Hard to stow in pockets.
  • New cables required for USB Type-C
  • Expensive
  • That’s it. Great phone.

Prius Road Test

We rented a Prius at CLT for Sara’s wedding from National Car Rental. We showed up, the dude said “pick any car”, just like in the commercial. Took us 15 minutes and reading the manual to figure out that you have to press the brake BEFORE pressing the Power button. Or else you get an error message that does NOT explain the problem. Aargh. Here are some other notes.

Zippy. Powerful enough. Some issues up hills. We did many fast starts to beat people around turns to change lanes with no problem.

Cheap interior. Leaning on the console while rearranging your body causes alarming cracking noises. From the console, not the body. Not sure if it was broken or normal.

Fully equipped with audio aux jack and 12V plug in the console. Too bad I forgot the audio cable for the MP3 player. Lots of cup holders. Seats comfortable, normal three hour pains. Kinda low for folks with hip issues like me but doable.

We sat in traffic on the way from Charleston back to CLT for two extra hours and filled it up on $8 of gas. And that lasted enough to look full where we turned in the car, 50 miles later.

Controls sometimes confusing. Why is Reverse to the front, and Drive to the rear? Not intuitive to me. Hard to see miles till empty – small numbers, and a symbol, not letters.

Very loud – the car, not the motor. Love the shark sneakup. Hate the road noise.

Summary: If you drive a lot it, especially stop and go, and don’t care about loud – do it. I wish they would be a little clearer on the 5 year-$10K battery packs.

Wine Review – Oak Leaf Cab; Dominio de la Peseta 2002 Crianza

So on our trip to Iowa, we did our pilgrimage to Walmart, and found their $3 answer to “two-buck Chuck”Oak Leaf Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. It has no vintage. I couldn’t resist.

I drank this. Its color is very weak, does not have much aroma. Kind of a nasty start. Finish is harsh. In short, it’s probably as good as 2BC, and worth every penny.

But, I found a wine at the Armanetti’s in Woodstock which is night and day better, and is $6. It is a Spanish red blend, Dominio de la Peseta 2002 Crianza. Aged 10 months in oak. I’ll bet 2BC is aged 10 minutes in pine. Not a lot of cash, but with a powerful aroma, notes of earth and grit. I really didn’t like it much at first, but it grew on me. The wine dude at the store said it is a good wine, they got a good deal on it, but it is not a cellaring wine, and it’s already 7 years old. Good, I’d rather drink it! Considering a case.

-Update 5/21 Got a case – save 15%, and no shipping!