Guacamole is a very simple dish with fresh ingredients: avocados, tomatoes, onions, chilies, cilantro and lime seasoned with salt and pepper.
It is the quality and balance of ingredients that make a great guacamole. Some people love it and are passionately drawn to the creamy avocado with the tang of lime and heat of chilies. Others have an aversion to the pistachio green color, the exotic avocado or the cilantro.
In fact, recent studies indicate certain people may be genetically predisposed to not like cilantro; Harold McGee wrote about it in the New York Times last year. If you don't know if you like cilantro, guacamole provides a great opportunity to find out.
14424 Manchester Rd., Ballwin
Señor Pique is an authentic family restaurant. A large mural hovers overhead and love ballads play in the background at this restaurant. Maria, the chef and owner's mother, came to our table to personally prepare the guacamole. It evoked a feeling of sitting in a friend's kitchen—albeit a fancy kitchen. Each serving of guacamole is made fresh by hand. The avocados were smooth and sweet with a great creamy texture. The guacamole was hearty and earthy tasting, and the flavors of the different ingredients shone through.There wasn't much salt and lime, which had a twofold effect. The amount of lime allowed the other flavors to shine and contributed a sweet-and-sour background note. The lack of salt left room to taste the other ingredients as well, but the guacamole may have benefited from just a tad more. The fresh jalapeños added a smokiness and spiciness that created a authentic thread. The crumbled fresh cheese on top tied the whole dish together.
The good: The guacamole had great flavor and texture and was made from extremely fresh ingredients. Authentic and spicy, it was a great dish.
The bad: The guacamole could have used a little more salt. A larger portion would have been nice for $6.95.
17409 Chesterfield Airport Rd., Chesterfield
Espinos has a more rustic feel and our server, Robbie, was bubbly and obviously proud of the cuisine she was serving. This quaint restaurant is a cute place to stop in for a bite. The guacamole is served in a crispy tortilla cup. The large, round scoop is topped with a sprinkle of scallions, which gave it a slightly unauthentic taste. The presentation was impressive and the portion size more than adequate. The lime was pronounced and balanced with salt, giving the overall flavor more kick. However, there was a bitter undertone. The bitterness was caused by a slight excess of onions and because the guacamole had not been made to order. Overall, it had good flavor and excellent plate presentation.
The good: The generous serving of guacamole looked beautiful and had some great flavors. The guacamole was well seasoned.
The bad: The scallions made it slightly unauthentic, and the bitter components took away from the overall dish.
14559 Manchester Rd., Manchester
El Maguey is a relaxed neighborhood restaurant with interesting décor that includes bright colors and oversized images. The bar area in the restaurant had a large, flat-screen television playing a telenovela. The simple rustic flavors and atmosphere gave it an air of authenticity and unpretentiousness. The guacamole was flavorful; lots of heat and spice gave the guacamole a lot of character. The texture was very smooth, though almost mushy, and the overall seasoning was slightly salty, which overpowered the avocado a touch. Because there was no cilantro in the guacamole, the fresh herb flavor was missing.
The good: Great heat and flavor made this guacamole taste good.
The bad: The texture, lack of cilantro and saltiness took away from the dish.
The winner: El Señor Pique wins because of the freshness and quality of ingredients. The avocado was so fresh it was almost sweet.
Next week, we'll review crab rangoon. Who has the best crab rangoon in West County? Let us know in the comments.