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Mojito Bay

Latin fusion spot is tasty enough to make small dreams come true

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ANNOUNCER: The boys have a dream of traveling back in time to the age of the dinosaurs to eat pterodactyl eggs and brontosaurus steaks. They know this will never happen because not only has no one invented a working time machine yet, but if the boys ever did get their hands on one, they’d just go back to sixth grade and talk themselves out of those unfortunate haircuts that made their heads look exactly like a 60-watt Sylvania light bulb. Jason said he’d also use the time machine to spy on all his ex-girlfriends in the shower.

The boys also have a dream in which they chuck it all, sell the cars and the cats and turn that dough into four one-way tickets for their wives and themselves so they can escape to some blue-water island in the Caribbean where they will lie on the beach, eat barbecued chicken, drink Red Stripes all day and otherwise do absolutely nothing.

JAKE: Oddly, this last dream is the one most likely to come true — probably because its primary motivator is deep, profound laziness. It saddens me that those two dreams probably won’t come true, but I get past it the best way I know how: by eating. When I start aching for white sand and islands named after French saints, I now know where to go. To Olympia, to bustling Capital Mall, to a piece of Jamaica-in-the-mall: Mojito Bay.

JASON: Could have used a heads-up on the shower thing. Sorry honey.

JAKE: I guess the mojito — the yummy rum-based cocktail made with mint and limes — is still the “It Girl” of the current cocktail scene. Aptly named, Mojito Bay has a bay full of mojito versions.

JASON: Beside the shower thing, the pleasure I get at substituting the correct pronunciation ‘moe-he-tow’ with ‘moe-ji-tow’ the menu elevated my spirits greatly. Starting with the appetizers, I was glad to see salmon cakes with a simple Caribbean slaw of red cabbage, lime juice and sea salt, and even happier when the cakes arrived moist. The portion size seemed right for $7, enough to whet the appetite for more, but not such a huge portion that dinner became a daunting task to finish.

A twist on the standard quesadilla, quesadilla del pueblo, is made with savory, soft red beans and rice complimented by charred tomato salsa; not burned mind you, but just held over flame long enough to char the outer skin and release the tomato’s natural sugars. And manchego cheese is just plain great. Nice to see it instead of the usual cheddar and mozzarella shredded mix. Manchego pops up again in a fondue ($8). Ceviche, coconut prawns, sautéed mushrooms and shrimp and Cuban spiced angus beef round out the starters.

JAKE: A bit of discontent crept in when caldo tlalpeno arrived. The soup bowl was very shallow and seemed emptier than it should have been, plus the soup, which is described as having shredded chicken, rice and beans, appeared to be mostly broth, cilantro and pico de gallo. The flavor was fantastic — tangy, fresh and soothing on a cold night, but after having this soup elsewhere and enjoying hearty amounts of chicken, I felt like the kitchen was being run by the frugal fairy.

JASON: The mojo avocado salad ($7) is a seemingly simple affair, but the mildly sweet and tangy citrus vinaigrette covering the mixed greens is one of the best I’ve had in ages. The other seven salads are concocted with interesting ingredients; marinated hearts of palm, corn, grapefruit, mango, rum balsamic reduction, jicama, mojo onions, anise. I could go on and on. The salad price range of $5 to $8 stays in the realm of reality, too, for what is basically a plate of lettuce with carefully selected toppings.

JAKE: Entrees, entrees, entrees, oh my! Eleven very different dinner choices were presented. Rock fish, rib-eye, Portuguese sausage, sirloin, jerk chicken, pork chops. This place is a carnivore’s dream. Not dreamy was the rib-eye’s taste ($26). Arriving cooked to my specification was a plus, but the steak was devoid of any seasoning, which seemed odd after the other dishes scored so highly in the flavor department. The sea salt and lemon pepper papas fritas (thinly sliced long strips of potato fried to a golden hue) saved the dish. The bay chicken breast entrée ($19) was another story all together. Three big Argentinean prawns cooked perfectly (not mushy, not tough) accompanied the medium sized breast, which had just the right amount of herbs and just the right amount of juice. Those wonderful red beans and rice played the role of starch and won an Oscar.

JASON: I imagined the corn on the cob side dish ($4) would be roasted on the grill, not boiled, but I should have asked the server before getting my hopes up. It was tender though, and the sauce of Chile mayo, cotija cheese and lime made me forget I wanted the corn prepared any differently.

JAKE: A gluttonous platter, the postre sampler, showcases Mojito Bay’s decadent desserts. They pick four and you indulge. Brazilian coffee truffle is worth a two stint in traffic and is served with thin hard fancy pieces of dark and white chocolate with hazelnuts. It’s Bill Gates rich. The dulce de leche ice cream quickly found its way onto light sweet bread pudding like a match made in heaven, and the crema de chocolate insured extra trips to the gym. Well worth $15.

Mojito Bay

Where: 625 Black Lake Blvd., Olympia, 360.705.3227

Hours: Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Scene: Think a Cuban PF Changs. The decor is metro Caribbean. It sits next to the Capital Mall theater for excellent people watching. We    prefer its elegant lounge as our    dining spot.

Menu: Latin fusion theme restaurant. The desserts rule.

Drinkies: Full bar with many mojito options

Damage: Lunch $9-$13, dinner $13-$26.

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