Saturday Night Taste Test: Coyote Flaco

Williamstown - With barely seven months of operation under their belts, the Coyote Flaco owners and staff have quite a bit to be proud of. On a Saturday evening at the height of the summer tourist season, the parking lot was full of vehicles that boasted both in-state and out-of-state license plates. This is an excellent indicator that the menu of Mexican and Spanish foods have found favor with local folks and visitors alike. The restaurant is at the site of the former Captain's Cabin and Captain's Table restaurants, and I had been curious as to how readily people would welcome a Mexican restaurant in place of what had been steak-and-seafood eateries. The filled dining room and lounge sections and the constant influx of diners proved people are pleased with the venture. Arrived Early; Seated Immediately First impressions count. We arrived about 10 minutes early for a 6:30 p.m. reservation; a table was prepared for us in seconds and we were promptly seated. Almost immediately, a busperson appeared with a pitcher of water to fill water glasses. We placed a drink order with the busperson, who promptly relayed the request to a server. Beverages were delivered rapidly. Tasty Salsa, Hot Pepper Dip, And 50 Varieties Of Tequila Crisp blue, red, and yellow tortilla chips served in an attractive basket were brought to the table accompanied by a chunky salsa and a hot green pepper [chile pepper, maybe?] dip; the salsa was tasty and wasn't overpowering with spicy heat while the green dip - very thin and liquidy- was of the burn-your-mouth quality my husband adores. This is a restaurant with a nicely varied wine list - and over 50 varieties of tequila are sold on the premises. Margaritas are the specialty drink and may be purchased by the glass, the half-pitcher, and full pitcher. A half-pitcher of one "house margarita" recipe may be had for $25, and a full pitcher costs $28. A "top shelf margarita" recipe sells at $40 for a full pitcher. Daiquiris, pina coladas, and "coyote mojitos" are sold by the glass; beers including Corona, Corona Light, XX Amber, XX Lager, Bohemia, Budweiser, Budweiser Light, Coors Light, and Samuel Adams are offered. The appetizer list includes gambas al ajillo [sauteed shrimp in mild garlic sauce and guindilla] for $8, a $7 quesadilla with Monterey Jack cheese and served with guacamole, sour cream, salad and jalapenos, and chile poblano relleno [stuffed poblano pepper topped with saffron and tomatillo sauce, a choice of chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, cheese or sausage and served with a gourmet Mexican salad] for $7. An Abundance Of Flavors And Flavor In Abundance I opted for the $7 nacho deluxe with vegetables and my husband ordered a $6 chorizo norteno, a sauteed Spanish sausage served swimming in a mild chipotle sauce with bread. The main meal was pollo oaxaqueno for me and one of the evening specials, churraasco Argentino, for my husband. My meal was grilled chicken breast served with a mole sauce over a bed of vegetables with Mexican salad, guacamole and corn tortillas. My husband's meal was grilled skirt steak, Spanish sausage topped with chimichurri, red potatoes and black beans. Portion sizes are very generous. The chicken had a mellow flavor and the vegetables were crisp. My husband was pleased with the size of the steak and the flavor of the black beans. Dessert was an apple chimichanga for me and a slice of a very rich chocolate cake for my husband. The chimichanga was almost a meal in itself; the warm deep-fried pastry wrapped around apple slices proved a delicious, if a bit heavy, dessert. The cake possessed a flavor that kept the fork plunging for more. Additional dessert choices include a fresh pear tart and a kahlua cake slice. The restaurant also offers a selection of after-dinner cordials, brandy and sherry, as well as coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and other beverages. The bill for appetizers, entrees, desserts, and beverages totaled $61 before the state meals tax. Just A Little Fine-Tuning... The food at Coyote Flaco is very good and the portion sizes are very generous. The staff is eager to please and friendly. The restaurant needs to fine tune its' serving timing; we had barely been served our appetizers when both entrees arrived. And we did make a second request for coffee with our dessert. But these are things that come together with practice and attention to detail and should in no way deter anyone from enjoying the fine food, lively atmosphere and friendly staff at the Coyote Flaco restaurant. Coyote Flaco is located at 505 Cold Spring Road, Williamstown. The restaurant is open Tuesday-Thursday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.. Reservations may be made by calling 413-458-4240. Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or at 802-823-9367.

Saturday Night Taste Test: Coyote Flaco By Susan Bush

12:00AM / Sunday, August 06, 2006 

Williamstown: Tastes of Mexico

Coyote Flaco in Williamstown

By Sally Patterson, Special to The Eagle

POSTED: 03/29/2006 03:03:00 AM EST | UPDATED: 8 YEARS AGO

Wednesday, March 29


Coyote Flaco means "the skinny coyote" in Spanish. The reference, presumably, is to a ravenous creature, which it is good to be when you arrive at this newest restaurant in town. You surely won't be hungry — or any skinnier — when you depart!

The restaurant is one of several of the same name owned by the Lopez family, whose eateries in Westchester County and southern Connecticut have been in operation for a number of years. Expanding to Williamstown was more a matter of the family branching out than of creating a franchise.

Galo Lopez purchased the former Captain's Table on Route 7 this past autumn and opened in February. He serves as both chef and proprietor and has had considerable help during startup from his brother, Luis, and other relatives. Judging by the night we went, the extra hands must be welcome, as the place was busy when we got there and even busier when we left.

It certainly is not the new decor that is the draw. The former nautical accents have been replaced with what you might call hotel neutrals — faux-stone beige with aqua and beige linens and lots of blond wood. A bit of stenciling, a lone striped blanket, a few green plants and some small prints by Rivera, Picasso and others relieve the blandness with touches of color, but not decisively.

So, of course, it must be the food and drink that fills the tables. The Latin warmth and character, missing in the surroundings, is in full evidence in glass and on plate.

The ordinary liquor offerings are eclipsed by a dazzling lineup of designer margaritas ranging in price from $5 for the basic quaff to $15 for what must be celestial top-shelf tequila.

As one of the ingredients for a blue "Coyote Azul" was unavailable, I let myself be talked into a house specialty Margarita Patron ($12), which combined Patron tequila with Cointreau and fresh lime juice. The result was rather like liquid silver — smooth, shiny and elegant.

Drinks were accompanied by complimentary — and complementary — chips and salsa. The yellow and blue tortillas were crisp-fried but not oily; the red and green salsas were hot and sassy.

The seeds of contentment thus planted came into full bloom with the guacamole. Scooped into two avocado shells, this was the genuine article — unctuous, a little chunky and very fresh with a good balance of lime and cilantro. Although more chips were provided, it was delectable and slightly less filling just by the spoonful. It was served with a mesclun salad garnished with a crumbly, slightly sharp, parmesan-like cheese called cotija.

Another appetizer, the Tamal al Azafran, featured a cornmeal tamale stuffed with cheese and mild peppers, topped with a light saffron-scented tomato sauce and sided with a ruffled tortilla dish filled with black bean, onion and cucumber salsa. It was a lively combination of tastes but left too little room for the entrée.

Dinners range from south-of-the-border standards — burritos, fajitas, tacos and quesadillas — to the quintessential Spanish paella, concocted with savory rice, sau-sages and seafood.

An order of Enchiladas Oaxaca served up two blue corn tortillas stuffed with tender spicy chicken pieces (not tasteless shreds). The Tampiqueno Combo paired a small tender skirt steak doused in mole sauce with an enchilada sui-za, which was stuffed with chicken and had a piquant tomatillo sauce. Refried beans, saffron rice and more guacamole (never too much) filled out the platos.

Unless one is dead-set on sugar, there seems no real need to save room for dessert. Better to polish off all the tasty savories and finish with a good coffee or liqueur.

We did not know that though, so we packed up the rest of our dinners to give place to what proved to be a very blah flan — a milky gelatin enlivened only by a decorative garnish of strawberry and mango purees.

The chocolate cake was better — dense with a thick chocolate frosting, and the same swirls of fruit, but it wasn't worth holding back on the first courses for. We might have found the recommended apple or pineapple chimi-changas more exciting, but we couldn't face the idea of deep-fried turnovers at the end of such a generous meal.

The menu is seasonal, and the chef expects to add more salads, fish and lighter fare during the spring and summer months. There may be more grilled items and perhaps some seviche, a marinated fish dish that is a specialty of the family's native Ecuador.

The service was very courteous, if a bit breathless; it was only three weeks after opening and, with greater-than-anticipated numbers of diners, the waitstaff had not yet perfected the timing.

The appetizers arrived separately, the entrees too soon, and there was a longish wait for coffee.

However, this should resolve itself with a little more time, and the establishment can expect to get plenty of practice.

Its winning combination of good quality and reasonable prices should attract students, locals and tourists alike.