R Taco headed south fast

     Here’s why you can’t write about a restaurant after only visiting it once.
     The first time we went to R Taco, one of Eagan’s new fast casual offerings at Central Park Commons, we liked it. It had just opened. Everything seemed new and fresh. The woman who greeted us was really nice and friendly.
 It seemed a perfect alternative to another Mexican fast casual chain which had had some, well, unfortunate experiences with bacteria. R Taco, short for Rusty Taco, provided an inexpensive alternative full of fresh food and smaller portions.
     Then we went back. And it wasn’t good.
     Gone was the nice friendly cashier. Instead, we were greeted by someone who seemed more interested in continuing a conversation with the crew in the back. “Just a minute,” he told us. No “Would you mind…?” Or “Excuse me.” Or “Sorry about that.” And it was longer than a minute. A lot longer.
     Had we known what was coming, we would have taken the opportunity to leave and head someplace else. But, no, we persisted, and, about $15 later, we had ordered two tacos: a breakfast taco and a beef fajita, as well as chips and queso. What could possibly go wrong?
     When the food arrived, we had to check the menu. The beef was so dried out and tough we thought we might have mistakenly ordered a beef jerky taco. The breakfast taco was lukewarm and lacked the care in presentation we had seen on a previous visit. But the worst, surprisingly, was the queso. Was that a hair on the cup? Yes, there, on the styrofoam container, was a hair. Time to go.
     Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that a new place doesn’t sustain the excitement of its opening. But, in this case, the quality of the experience at R Taco fell far and fast. It’s time to shake off the rust if this place wants to survive.

Edina's Crave is more of a compromise

   Crave or compromise?
   We’ll say one thing about Crave in Edina, the menu is broad. So, if you’re trying to plan one of those outings where no one can agree on a restaurant, Crave fills a void. You can get burgers or sushi or pizza or steak.
   The problem with such jacks of all cuisines is they’re usually masters of none. That was the case with our recent visit to Crave. The food was good, but nothing was really great, including the service. The slow service wasn’t the fault of the servers, who were very helpful when we needed them. It was just another example of profiteering by dining establishments, packing too many tables into too small a space with too few servers.
   Our experience at Crave was just fine, nothing memorable, nothing special. We ordered pizza off the kids’ menu. It was fine, but not as good as what you’d get at a pizza place. We also had a burger, which piled so high with toppings it was difficult to manage.
   The biggest disappointment was the sushi. We ordered the shrimp tempura sushi, which was served warm, far warmer than we’d expect from anything called sushi. The pieces were too large to comfortable manage with chopsticks. There were also odd vertical protrusions at the ends of the roll which made it even more difficult to handle.
   The worst feature of the dish was an unidentified sauce squirted liberally over the entire dish. It was the color and consistency of McDonald’s secret sauce. The only purpose for it seemed to be to make us wish we had saved our money and gone out for a Big Mac instead.
   Instead of spending your time at Crave, if your group can’t agree on a restaurant, you might want to spend that time working on group dynamics. Better to have some people fully satisfied than everyone wanting more.