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For those with hollow legs...
Pedro's Mexican Cantina (Norwich)
Member Name: ermintrude
Pedro's Mexican Cantina (Norwich)
Date: 08/12/00, updated on 10/12/00 (64 review reads)
Advantages: okay food; plenty of it; popular with students (this may be a disadvantage :)
Disadvantages: all the dishes seem a bit samey; pricey; some tables cramped
Many a big eater has been stumped by a Pedro's meal. You can spot a Pedro's virgin, as they will blithely order a starter, main course, side dish, and nachos to share, not realising that this could probably feed the people of Luxembourg for a week, and still have enough left for there to be remarks about starving children in Africa who would be grateful for that food you've wasted.
Somehow, a Pedro's meal doesn't look like *that* much on the plate. A large amount of food, sure, but not abnormally so. But when you try and eat it, you find you ordered the neverending main course. No matter how much you eat, there is still half of it left. The wise just order starters, or share a main course. Some just order starters *to* share, but that's a bit extreme. Therefore Pedro's meals are legendary in Norwich, or more specifically, among UEA students.
The popularity with students gives the place a young atmosphere, although "vibrant" might be stretching it a bit. In particular, it can get loud when the later crowd arrives, the ones who've been passing time in the bar before their 9pm table. Indeed, it has to be said, Pedro's is much better when you're a bit merry (okay, sloshed) - that's when it's hilarious to order "sex on the beach" and eat the worm out of the tequila.
On looking at the menu, the first thing you do is gulp at the prices. No main dish comes in under £8.95, which isn't *that* much I know, but doesn't compare well with other restaurants in the area. Beers (330ml bottles) are £2.40, or you can go for a large range of cocktails at £4 or so. Then of course there are the ubiquitous jugs of margarita and sangria weighing it an about £17 to serve 8 (but only if the 8 aren't too thirsty). You're not heading for a cheap night out, let's put it that way.
On first glance, there's a fairly wide choice of dishes. But basically it comes down to t
his: chilli, veggie chilli, refried beans or chicken in a white sauce, served with plain or fried tortillas, or taco shells. Make up a few combinations of those, add sour cream, cheese and guacamole, and that's your Pedro's menu. Everything comes with a choice of rice or sautee potatoes, something which they ask everyone around the table, but no-one thinks to specify straight away. Or if you do, you're still asked: "I'd like the beef fajitas please, with rice." "Is that with rice or potatoes?" Argh.
The food is decent, but nothing special. The chilli's not that spicy, and the hot sauce they put on the table is from Louisiana, so hardly authentic, and it just seems to add heat rather than flavour. Personally, I would rather have a smaller portion of some tastier food. There are desserts and some dessert-like cocktails (with loads of cream) as well, but frankly, I've never had space to try them. They're nothing special on paper - the usual sorts of ice cream, chocolate fudge cake, etc. (Not that I would know a Mexican dessert if it jumped up and bit me.)
The wait staff can be pretty robotic. On a busy night they often have a number of large parties to deal with, so can rush you through, bringing the bill before you finish dessert (although they probably know from experience that that could be a long wait). Some of them are good fun, although "fun" often takes the form of landing you with large sombreros (are there any other kind?) as you sit down. Bear in mind that the hats are a good 2 feet across, and you're crammed in like battery chickens - you either lose them by the time the starters arrive, or spend the evening eating by numbers.
Y'know, maybe it's because the place is so small that the meals seem so big. It's basically in a shed in a park. A big shed, but a shed nonetheless. The tables seem very close together, and your intimate dinner for two can easily be rui
ned by the shrieking girls in gold lame 2 feet away. The loud(ish) "Mexican" music seems worse in a small area, and can hinder conversation (unless you're a shrieking girl in gold lame). The various "Mexican" knick-knacks around the ceiling don't help the feeling of claustrophobia, nor do the numerous rough-plastered internal walls with barred windows, but hey, it's authentic, right?
Authentic my bum. Pedro's, no matter how many pseudo-Latin American trinkets you hang up, you are, and always will be, a shed in a park. But we'll always love you when we're pished.